Love Yourself First - Im Happy. Youre Happy. Were All Happy!

As a teenager growing up reading 'Blue Jeans' and 'Jackie', it occurred to me that just one piece of advice was the answer to all the problems in a teenaged girl's world: Love yourself and everything will be fine. Problem was, I didn't really 'get' what that meant. By 16, I'd worked out that it was all to do with self-acceptance and being happy with who you are. But that's not the whole story, is it? The penny finally dropped a couple of years ago; a tad embarrassing since it seems so obvious now. Then again, I see so many people who clearly aren't loving themselves, that perhaps I'm not alone. It's simple:

'Loving yourself' is about treating yourself as you would treat someone who is really, really precious to you. Someone you love so much that you hurt when they hurt, for whom you would move mountains, just to see them well and happy.

It can be hard to get the balance right. Putting our loved ones' happiness above our own is common; we are only too ready to sacrifice our own needs for theirs. This is particularly so, though not exclusively, for wives and mothers - but this 'modus operandi' will nearly always backfire on us eventually as it leaves us wanting in some way.

Imagine, just for a moment, putting yourself first. It may sound selfish, but it really isn't it. It's not about abandoning everyone else, it's simply about honouring your own wellbeing. After all, how can you truly give all that you are capable of giving if you aren't properly nourished, rested, happy and well. And if you don't love and respect yourself, how can you expect others to do the same? So how can you start loving yourself more?

Ask yourself, "If I were my own best friend, what gift would I give myself right now that would make me happier, do me good?"

Of course, each one of us will give a different answer, but there are certain things that I believe we all need in order to love ourselves:

Time and treats just for you - You don't have time? You'd make time for your best friend if they were in need; you are just as worthy. Book a massage or a facial or take a walk in your favourite park - but make the time to do something for yourself. Regularly.

Get breathless - There is no getting away from it - exercise is crucial for good health and wellbeing. If you don't do any, you are storing up problems. It doesn't have to be a sport or the gym; think 'breathless'. What can you do that's fun and makes you breathless? Dancing? Walking? Cycling? Doing it for 20 mins every other day would be a great start.

Rest and sleep - I used to think sleep was for lazy, boring people. And bizarrely, I was convinced that the less I got, the thinner I'd become! In fact, the opposite is true. More importantly, when you sleep your body gets busy repairing and healing and undoing any damage you may have caused it. Take sleep seriously.

Nourishment - Each time you eat, think of the food in terms of nourishment first, mood enhancement last! I used to eat a lot of pastries, but they have next to no nutritional value. They are a combination of bad fats, sugars and bad carbs. Get into the habit of thinking this way and choose foods that nourish you.

Light and air - If you live in a town or city, you've probably noticed how much more alive you feel when you leave it and breathe country or sea air. More oxygen I guess, and without it we die. We need day/sunlight too for Vitamin D production, important for bones and general wellbeing. So take a walk outside every day - you'll sleep better too.

Fun, laughter and play - When was the last time you laughed so hard you could cry? Or fooled around like a big kid? A good giggle loosens muscles, lowers blood pressure, relieves stress and aids immunity. It feels good because blood is moved to your heart and lungs, boosting your energy levels. So have some fun and laugh like a loon!

Tackle the things that are draining you - We all have things in our life that steal our energy; things we don't want to deal with because it would take us out of our comfort zone in some way. It may be nothing more than a pile of junk or it might be something more emotive like a feud with a relation. Whatever, it is, find a way to tackle it and you'll feel so much better with the energy you release.

Nurture, honour and love your self - choose only those things that are good for you! ______________________________________________________________

Claire Raikes is a Wellbeing Coach, Speaker and Writer who 'cured' herself of a chronic, disabling and potentially life-threatening bowel condition without the use of steroids, surgery or any other traditional medical intervention. She shares her passion for natural and vibrant health by working with individuals and companies to educate, encourage and inspire people to increase energy levels, boost immunity and lead happier lives as a result.

See how much happier and healthier you could be; get your FREE Wellbeing Checklist by visiting:"> or contact Claire at