Many people see February as the ‘month of love for others’, due to it being the home of Valentine’s Day, as well as Leap-Year traditions that see ladies getting down onto one knee. And yes, all that’s true.
Yet, we think that February should be about expressing just as much love to yourself as you do to others (though you should do all these things all-year-round!).
Self-love is a concept that involves having an appreciation for and respect for yourself. It includes taking care of your own mental and physical health and having regard for your own contentment – things that often get waylaid when work or life is busy, and we have other people to care for.
If you’re new to the whole ‘self-love’ thing, don’t worry, we’re here to help – and it’s not as cheesy as it might sound. Read on to discover why self-love is so important, and simple ways to exercise it.
The importance of self-love
It’s vital to take time to nourish and treat yourself with love and kindness. Why? Because – and we’re trying not to sound corny, here – you are your own longest relationship.
If you’re not healthy and happy, how can you help the other people in your life to be? How can you expect to excel at work, or complete your studies? Practising self-love will allow you to feel more fulfilled, calmer, and better able to function in your day-to-day life.
A lot of self-care proponents suggest that people do things like take long baths, get their hair done, or go for a massage, but loving yourself goes much deeper than merely indulging or buying yourself nice things. Splurging on yourself every now and then won’t bring you lasting happiness.
Rather, self-love should be a daily activity or daily activities in which you take actions to support your own physical, psychological, and spiritual growth. It’s about taking care of your needs and recognising that you as an individual, have value.
Not sure where to start? Here are three ways to show yourself more self-love this week.
1. Spend some alone time with yourself (without looking at your phone or computer!)
Depending on what type of person you are, spending time truly on your own can be either uncomfortable or a joy. If it’s the former, try to stick it out – soon enough, you’ll find being alone no trouble at all.
In a similar way to getting to know a new colleague or friend, we need to spend time with ourselves to really understand what makes us tick. Start by allocating yourself just 10 minutes each day – whenever you can grab a quiet moment.
It might be grabbing a coffee from your favourite City café before work and enjoying it on a quiet bench in a nearby park. It might also be taking yourself for a walk around your local area, or travelling a bit further afield to somewhere filled with nature. It might even be 10 minutes simply sat alone with your thoughts, wherever you are, letting whatever ideas, troubles, and cares come into your head, and letting them drift away just as easily.
If sitting alone like this feels ‘weird’ or difficult, ease yourself in with some meditation. Find a short, guided meditation audio (yes, you can look at your phone, but only to source the audio, then it needs to go away again!) that will give you something to focus on. Inevitably, thoughts will still come and go – and that’s the point. You want to spend time alone with yourself, protruding thoughts and all.
Try to schedule these 10 ‘me minutes’ into your daily routine, and don’t skip a session. If you can, gradually increase the time you spend doing this activity or similar ones until you are comfortable alone in any situation. It will push you to confront your own needs, dreams, troubles, and emotions – almost like a little check-in with yourself. Only then will you be able to act on the things you discover.
2. Show yourself some appreciation
Many of us judge our ourselves purely on how others perceive us and our accomplishments, never taking time to praise ourselves for ourselves. But why do we value the praise of others above our own?
More often than not, we tend to mentally home in on things that have gone wrong in our days, forgetting about the good stuff – big and small. So, let’s change this.
Get yourself a journal or notebook, and at the end of every day, write down three things that you think you did well or qualities about yourself that you or other people appreciate. Don’t worry about your appreciations being about seemingly insignificant or small things. The only rule is to focus on positives, not negatives.
It might be tricky at first to find three separate things, but consistency is key and it takes time to break bad habits – like not giving yourself the praise you deserve. But we’re going to alter that.
3. Make time to do things that you love to do
This is easier said than done when we have friends, families, and work commitments to juggle, but you’re also entitled to do the things that make you happy as an individual – and on a daily basis.
Stop putting your joys second and start prioritising time for yourself. Love to swim? Join a local pool or take your family to the coast at the weekends. Enjoy dancing? Enlist in weekly lessons or spend 10 minutes each morning watching a class on YouTube. Like running? Head out for a jog on your lunchbreak or join a nearby running club.
You can do these activities with other people – the more the merrier – but ensure that you are regularly pursuing something that you want to do for yourself, not because you want to make someone else happy.