Defining your self-worth by your productivity is counterproductive. Instead, you should be aiming to love yourself more regardless of how much you accomplish. 

“I think there is a misconception regarding the relationship between self-love and productivity, one that I bought into for years. We are constantly competing for who is the most stressed, tired, and overwhelmed as if that is what makes us good at our jobs and productive,” says Chelsea Austin, an author, speaker, certified professional coach, and self-worth advocate. 

“But what I have found is that when I take some time to practice self-love and compassion, my productivity grows. When I remind myself that my worth is not in my accomplishments or in what I can do for others, but in who I am, I can take a break, show myself love, and I become more productive.” 

How more self-love translates into more productivity 

The relationship between self-love and productivity is subtle. You may not realize that when you’re beating yourself up for how much you haven’t done, you’re actually getting in the way of your productivity. “You are taking so much time thinking of all the things you could’ve done differently and playing those tapes of negative self-talk,” says Austin. “This is time that you could be spending cultivating your creativity to more effectively solve problems, get work done, create more, and love your life.” 

According to her, when you feel positive about yourself, you open up space for that kind of creativity to flow. You stop second-guessing yourself, which can be paralyzing. You take action more freely, so you end up being more impactful overall. 

Self-love is sometimes about taking what seems like two steps back on the productivity track. But those figurative steps back will propel you way further forward when you’re ready to move again. 

“A part of self-love is also acknowledging where you are in each moment. Allowing yourself to feel any way that you might be feeling is a vital part of showing yourself love. When you allow yourself to process your emotions instead of beating yourself up for having emotions (which is part of the human experience), you can get back to your work faster and be more productive,” adds Austin. 

In other words, it’s okay not to be okay. Some days, you’ll feel down and low-energy. Self-love is acknowledging that and giving yourself what you need without trying to be productive at all costs. This has immense benefits on your productivity in the long run. 

Habits to increase self-love and productivity 

Ready to give yourself a boost of self-love and improve your productivity in the process? Embrace the following habits. 

1. Take time to process your emotions

Get in the habit of feeling and expressing your emotions instead of distracting yourself and avoiding them. “If you notice something coming up and you feel safe letting it out or moving through it, do so. So often, we get caught in the tapes in our minds playing on repeat, but if we can find a way to move through [our emotions] we can feel lighter and get back to the work at hand,” says Austin, who recommends exercise, meditation, journaling, venting to a loved one or a mental health professional, or even screaming into a pillow to help process your feelings. 

2. Be mindful of your inner talk

You’ll also want to be mindful of your negative self-talk and pause when you notice it coming up. “Sometimes we forget how amazing we are and find all the things about ourselves that just don’t measure up the way we thought they would,” according to Austin. 

Here’s her tip: When you’re feeling in a good headspace, write down qualities you love about yourself. The next time you experience a bout of self-doubt, grab that list to uplift yourself. 

“Another bit of advice, if you’re struggling with body image, instead of trying to force yourself to feel good about your body, remind yourself of things you’re great at, at work or in your personal life. If you’re struggling to feel good about your work, think of things you love about yourself outside of work,” adds Austin. 

“It can feel hard to change the actual thoughts from negative to positive, so sometimes it’s worth remembering other areas of our life where we have an easier time loving ourselves.” 

3. Use empowering affirmations  

It may sound cheesy, but creating empowering affirmations that start with “I am” can work wonders during those moments when it’s harder to find self-love. 

“Things like ‘I am resilient, I am thoughtful, I am organized’ will help remind you of things you know you’re great at and help you move through that pattern of being so hard on yourself,” says Austin. For added emphasis, imagine a moment when you actually felt those things in real life. 

4. Practice self-care outside of work 

Self-care and self-love go hand in hand. And you get to define what self-care looks like for you, says Austin. “By practicing self-care outside of the office, you will start to be able to remind yourself of how worthy you are of pausing and showing yourself some love. It’ll then get easier to remember that during the workday. You’ll start to notice how taking care of yourself is changing how you feel about yourself and your work.” 

5. Remember that self-love may feel unnatural at first 

Remember that self-love may feel unnatural at first. That’s normal. Just keep showing up and focusing on nurturing yourself regardless of what others are doing or what you’re used to. 

“Remember that it’s natural to be hard on yourself, we’ve been conditioned to do so, but it doesn’t have to become your typical state of being. You can choose to start loving yourself regardless of what society says you should be doing,” adds Austin. 

“When you show yourself love and care, you will be able to access so much more productivity and create work that you feel proud of because you were able to fully show up as [your true self] in creating it.”