The Self-Love Challenge and its Impact on Mental Health

Oh, February. You either adore her or eagerly anticipate her departure! With the month centralized around love, there can be a lot of mixed feelings about the February 14th holiday. No matter what your relationship status is, the most important relationship in your life is the one with yourself. 

Self-love is more than just a trendy phrase; it's a fundamental aspect of fostering a healthy and resilient mind. At its core, self-love involves cultivating a positive and compassionate relationship with oneself, knowing your value, embracing your strengths, and accepting your imperfections without criticism. 

person touching a mirror making a heart with the reflection, representing the self-love challenge

According to VCUHealth, “There is a large body of psychological research that shows self-compassion and self-love do have a strong impact on our mental health and our emotional state, both in terms of decreasing anxiety, depression, anger and loneliness and also increasing support and encouragement for ourselves.” 

How Self-Love Impacts Mental Health: 

Boosts Self-Esteem: 

Taking good care of yourself and embracing self-love can improve your self-esteem and self-worth, fostering a positive self-image and acceptance just as you are. Acknowledge and celebrate your wins, it boosts your self-esteem! 

Lowers Tension and Worry: 

Allocating time for self-care activities can notably decrease levels of stress and anxiety. It allows you to disconnect from the chaos of daily life and focus on your own needs. 

Boosts Resilience: 

Loving yourself sets you up to bounce back stronger when life throws curveballs. When you love and care for yourself, you develop the strength and tools to help you to bounce back from setbacks and approach difficulties with a more positive mindset. 

Improves Relationships: 

A good relationship with yourself can improve your connection with others. When you're comfortable in your own skin, you can authentically connect with those around you. This fosters stronger and more meaningful connections. 

Encourages Positive Habits: 

Engaging in self-love challenges promotes positive habits. Looking after yourself, setting boundaries, and staying present can boost your mental well-being. 

Navigating Emotional States  

Before we jump into the Self-Love challenge, let's chat about the various states of being we might go through. Willie Higbee, Lead Clinician and Supervisor with the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic at Acenda, suggests acknowledging both positive and challenging emotions. Life is a swirl of different emotions and understanding them can be a powerful tool on our path to well-being. What we feel can be a sign of whether or not we need to change our habits.  

Positive States:  

Joyful: Experiencing joy is a beautiful aspect of life. It can be from little joys or great accomplishments. Embrace moments of joy and let them energize you.  

Connected: Feeling connected, either with yourself or others, helps create a supportive atmosphere. Cultivate connections that uplift and inspire you.  

Loved: Feel the love around you, from within and from the people close to you. Love is a powerful force that contributes to overall well-being.  

Challenging States:  

Burnout: Feeling emotionally and physically exhausted, burnout can be a sign that you've been pushing yourself too hard. Recognizing the signs and prioritizing self-care is crucial.  

Stretched and Overwhelmed: When life demands more than you can comfortably handle, you might feel stretched thin and overwhelmed. Recognizing these emotions is the first step to getting things back on track. 

As we continue, keep in mind that the challenges aim to encourage self-love and help you handle your emotions. Every moment, whether difficult or good, is a chance to learn and understand more about yourself.  

Self-Love Challenge 

I make self-love a priority in my life. When I feel anxious, tired, or irritated, I make sure to listen to my body. In 2023, I learned how to say no and about JOMO, the joy of missing out. 

It has helped a lot when I know I am stretching myself too thin and need some personal time. My favorite way to unwind is a nice bath, Epsom salts, and a good book. 

Set aside time for yourself each day. Whether it's a brief 5-minute solitude in the car for a breathing routine, or a couple of hours to enjoy your preferred film. 

Self-love can be as easy as saying positive affirmations to yourself in the mirror every morning. If you need more ideas, check out our Self-Love Challenge, where we challenge you to focus on self-love each day this month. Here are some ideas. 

Week 1 
  • Make a list of 5 things that make you happy 
  • Unfollow or mute accounts on social media that contribute to difficult emotional states rather than positive ones. 
  • Say no when you want to say no 
  • Sleep in with no alarm 
  • Watch a TED Talk
Week 3 
  • Take yourself on a date 
  • Do some yoga or other accessible forms of movement 
  • Perform a random act of kindness 
  • State 3 positive affirmations 
  • Call a friend/family member you haven’t spoken to in a while
Week 2 
  • Saying affirmative or body neutral statements to yourself in the mirror each day 
  • Buy yourself fresh flowers or something else that you enjoy and is within your budget 
  • Make yourself a snack plate full of fresh fruit, veggies, cheese, crackers, etc. 
  • Write yourself a love letter and read it when you’re feeling down 
  • Listen to a new podcast
Week 4 
  • Watch your favorite movie 
  • Make a vision board for this year 
  • Brew yourself a cup of tea 
  • Take 5 deep breaths 
  • Spend an hour in nature 
Working Through It at Your Own Pace: 

The self-love journey is personal and unique for everyone. Approach these challenges with kindness and understanding. Higbee adds, some days, you might feel ready to conquer the world, while other days, a quiet moment of self-reflection might be all you need or are capable of. 


Progress, not perfection, is the goal. 

Be patient with yourself. 

Celebrate your victories, no matter how small. 

Adapt the challenge to suit your needs. 

Listen to your inner voice and prioritize what feels right for you. 

Including self-love practices into your routine is an ongoing process. Regularly invest time in nurturing your relationship with yourself. You'll discover the profound impact it can have on your mental health and overall well-being. 

To access more mental health resources, visit our Mental Health Resource Page.

To access more mental health resources, visit our Mental Health Resource Page

About the author: 

Mariana Heyel, Communications Coordinator at Acenda, is a South Jersey native who ventured to the University of South Carolina for her undergraduate degree, where she studied Marketing and Entrepreneurial Management, with a Minor in Environmental Studies. With a passion for live music, traveling around the world, and the pursuit of knowledge, she embraces the importance of mental health in her life. In the words of Dolly Parton, "You'll never do a whole lot unless you're brave enough to try." 

 Guest Contributor:

Willie Higbee, Lead clinician and Supervisor with the CCBHC program is a New Jersey native. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in psychology and spent many days skiing and hiking through Utah. Willie graduated with a Masters in Social Work from Temple University and is glad to be back closer to the beach where he feels most at peace with himself. Willie loves to cook, bake, and eat with friends and family.