I know that everyone is talking about romantic love today, it is Valentines Day after all, but l wanted to talk about one very special type of love that deserves its own featured blog post: self-love. Don't get me wrong, I’m a hopeless romantic but I believe that the most significant relationship you will ever have is your relationship with YOURSELF! Self-Love is a pretty self-explanatory concept and is one that has been flooding social media and news feeds lately, and I couldn’t be more excited. Loving yourself and putting yourself first has so many health and mental benefits! It is also the cornerstone for having a healthy relationship with others.
I mean we can be so good to our friends and family and even our colleagues whom we barely know. In fact, we often give them much more than we ever consider giving ourselves. We’re supportive, we boost their confidence and we make sure they know their worth. We’re there when they need an ear to listen, shoulder to cry on or a helping hand. Overall, we’re a positive and uplifting influence. And it’s easy, right? This sort of behavior just seems natural because we actually do care about these people. So why is it so hard to do the same for ourselves?
Sure, being selfless is an amazing quality to hold. It’s part of what goes into being a good person. But you can’t pour from an empty cup, and when it comes to forming a true bond with someone, romantic or not, self-acceptance and self-love must come first. Can you say you have that right now? I sure hope so! And if not, well, it’s time to find it. Just why is it so important to love yourself? As I already mentioned, it has a ton of health benefits, ranging across physical, mental and emotional. Just a few of the perks it can provide include a boost in self-confidence, self-compassion, self-worth and general happiness (1) (2).
So how can you get started? There’s no clear path to take, as self-love and self-care can look very different for each individual. There are tons of ways in which you can “treat” yourself better in a casual sense. Vacations, shopping splurges, indulgent meals and pedicures are all great ideas, for example. But in order to really get to the root of things and create a connection, you have to dig deeper. Treat yourself as if you're having a love affair- with yourself. Below are some of my favorite ways to ignite that spark.
Think and speak kindly about yourself
This one is so important. I’ll be honest though, it’s also one of the hardest habits to form. Pay more attention to the chatter that goes on inside of your head. If you do, you’ll likely be surprised at how often negative and self-defeating thoughts pop up. Try your best to be more conscious of this and instead turn them into kind and loving words. Be your own cheerleader!
Listen to and trust yourself
Also be sure to listen along to what your body and mind are telling you. They often know best and have unique ways of making these needs known. Maybe it’s more movement and fresh air you’re yearning for or some relaxing alone time amongst a bustling social calendar. We often try to “go” too much. Slow down and tune in to what feels right.
We’re all human. None of us are perfect- contrary to what your Instagram feed may lead you to believe. And we’re all always deserving of a second chance (or a third or a fourth if needed). If you don’t learn to forgive yourself for mistakes you’ll never be able to move on and make progress in life. Whatever it may be, big or small, put it in the past and look towards the future.
Be mindful of surrounding yourself with those who support you, motivate you and help bring out the very best version of yourself. On the same hand, remove toxic relationships and habits that do the opposite. This may mean learning to say no more often and learning to set boundaries. Just remember, you are the company you keep.
Take care of yourself
This one probably seems obvious, but taking care of your physical and mental health plays a big part in learning how to love yourself (3). Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of water and be sure to get a few sweat sessions in each week. Try to create an environment free from stress and consider practicing meditation our journaling to beat what you can’t control.
Seriously, don’t be afraid to spoil yourself regularly. This is just the same for how a lover may shower you with flowers and notes from time to time. Maybe it’s in the form of a fancy coffee before work, new black dress that makes you feel pretty or going the extra mile to cook a nourishing and satisfying meal. Whatever makes you feel good will surely do some good.
Have fun with yourself
It’s important to learn how to have fun on your own. Yes, that’s right- totally on your own. Set aside some time each week to dedicate to this (probably) new activity. Consider a solo lunch date or even a movie. While it may seem a bit unnatural at first, you’ll eventually learn to become more confident in doing it. And I think you’ll find it to be quite empowering, too.
Challenging yourself can be healthy in so many ways. For example, it can help you become more adaptable, test your limits, grow and find new personal hobbies and talents. Perhaps you can share your creativity through words outside of a personal diary, or apply for that job you’ve always felt under-qualified for. Just go for it, and see what happens is my advice.
If you spend a little bit of time each day focusing on a couple of these steps, I promise you’ll journey down a path that leads you to so much more love than you currently have. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s definitely worth it. And there’s no better time to begin than today! What’s your favorite way to love yourself?