When you Google what self-love means, you will find varying definitions because it’s multifaceted. Self-love is much more than just treating yourself and experiencing that short-term “feel good” after a new hair-do, buying new clothes, or enjoying a spa day or girl’s weekend.
Self-love encopmpasses appreciating your worth through consistently supporting your psychological, spiritual, and physical health. Per the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, that means truly recognizing and caring for your own needs, not sacrificing your well-being to please others, and not settling for less than you deserve.
Self-care can have a variety of meanings from one person to the next because we prioritize and tend to our needs differently. There is no “right way” to take care of yourself, it’s just important that you do it!
Consistently neglecting caring for your psychological, spiritual, and physical well-being can lead to battling mental and physical health issues and can negatively affect your relationships with EVERYONE – yourself, friends, family members, co-workers, and even strangers in the store or on the road.
Caring for your well-being is critical and should not just happen every now and then or only when you’re about to snap – it should happen often to grow your self-love, nurture your health and sanity, and avoid reaching those breaking points. It should happen often so you can maintain a healthy balance between you and everything else in life like work, family, friends, and the never ending to-do lists.
We are all guilty of pushing our self-care aside to avoid taking time off of work, to get to-do’s done, to help out friends and family members, or partake in recreational activities that may be fun and enjoyable, but are not tailored to supporting our well-being… frequently bumping that self-care aside can promote a never-ending go-mode/work cycle, which at some point leads to the good ol’ crash and burn. We know focusing all of our spare time and energy on everyone and everything else and not even taking a sliver of that time to support and strengthen our self-love is detrimental to our health because we can feel it – but we typically do 1 of 2 things:
- We recognize where we’re headed → take action to support our psychological, spiritual, and/or physical health before reaching a breaking point → hop back on the go-mode train (until we recognize where we’re headed again later)
- We let ourselves crash and burn → take time to recover to support our psychological, spiritual, and/or physical health → hop back on the go-mode train (just to crash and burn again later)
Fortunately, there is a 3rd option → act to support our psychological, spiritual, and physical well-being frequently to promote a healthy work/life/self balance. We tend to overlook this option because it can be difficult to start, may feel too time consuming, and take a real effort to maintain… BUT each of us deserve the time to actively support our well-being to strengthen our self-love. It’s a form of preventative care, just like your regular check-ups with your doctor which you need and deserve.
Take a true moment to think about everything you just read.
Where do you stand? Are you consistently taking care of yourself or are you stuck in a vicious cycle?
Wherever you may stand, it’s important to remind yourself life isn’t perfect. The following tips can either act as reminders or goals to work toward. Strengthening your self-love is not about creating and maintaining a picture perfect self-love routine – things will always come up and routines will change.
What matters most is making a consistent effort to take care of yourself and love yourself.
When starting out and looking at the overall picture, here are some basic tips:
- Acknowledge your limits – if you always bite off more than you can chew, you may not be doing yourself a favor. Dial back if you are managing more than you can comfortably handle. There’s a big difference between a good challenge and preemptively knowing you’ll struggle and sacrifice your well-being.
- Make a real effort to get the sleep your body needs. Check out these pro-sleep habits and natural remedies to help you fall asleep and stay asleep!
- Recognize your own temperament and what triggers irritability, stress, or other negative feelings. Find ways to manage and communicate your reactions in a healthy way and remove any triggers possible from your life. The 4-7-8 breath Relaxation Exercise is a quick go-to any time of day to help relieve stress and calm nerves!
- Check-in daily with your mood and outlook as it may help you identify self-care focus points for that day or week. Spend just a few minutes alone in a calm and quiet place away from electronics to reflect upon your day and decide how you will go on about the rest of your day, night, or even the next morning.
- Be true and nice to yourself. There’s a difference between positive constructive criticism and constantly nagging on yourself. Appreciate your achievements and encourage realistic goals.
- Get fresh air daily to clear your mind, boost your mood, improve your concentration, and encourage exercise.
- Create a healthy eating pattern. Getting the vitamins and minerals you need through whole foods promotes your psychological and physical health – we all know the benefits to eating healthy are endless!
If you’re looking to specifically focus on your psychological, spiritual, and/or physical health, here are some ideas to help you dive in:
- Practice mindfulness by paying attention to what’s around you and re-synchronize yourself with your senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, sound) to help you slow down.
- Incorporate positive affirmations (tell yourself positive phrases or statements) throughout your day or week to overwrite negative and limiting thoughts in a number of areas in your life like work, self-confidence, motivation, challenging times, eating or exercise habits, relationships, etc. Here is a great Affirmations app that provides daily affirmations to start your day off right.
- Maintain a realistic schedule and plan ahead to promote a healthy work/life/self balance. Planning also helps to avoid feeling overwhelmed and disappointed in yourself.
- Set electronics aside for specific time frames daily to truly appreciate life itself, the people you are surrounded by, and be 100% in the moment.
- Forgive and accept yourself when you make mistakes. Don’t continue to kick yourself – learn and grow from your mistakes instead.
- Decompress in your own way daily to give yourself a mini reset and mix it up throughout the week! Whether that means staring into nothingness while sitting in your car before entering your crazy household, going for a walk, taking a longer than usual shower or bath, diving into a good book, scrolling through old pictures, daydreaming, watching your favorite show, going out for a date night, or enjoying a conversation with a good friend – whatever can help you unwind and de-stress from the day!
- Communicate with your partner, children, and/or loved ones you live with daily to connect with them, grow your relationships, and promote feelings of mutual love and respect. Whether it’s sharing about how the day went, struggles, accomplishments, a learning moment, a teaching moment, or sharing personal views about a specific topic, in-person communication is fulfilling and will help ground you.
- Ask for help when you need it. This can be very difficult, especially if you’re accustomed to never asking for help… even when you’re in dire need. However, it’s important to accept you just can’t do it all ALL THE TIME – take a lending hand for your mental health!
- If you’re holding on to any grudges, think deeply about the importance of them. You never know what tomorrow will bring, so consider moving beyond them for your own health, heart, and sanity.
- Live purposefully to cherish yourself. There is no clear cut answer as to how, but you can create meaningful habits to lead a fulfilling life and positively influence not only yourself, but every person you come in contact with. Practice realistic goal setting, focus on 1 task at a time to avoid overloading your brain, start making beneficial changes in your life TODAY – not tomorrow, connect with your higher power if you believe in one, appreciate your past as it’s helped guide your future actions, and think about your relationships – if you’re not bringing each other up, is it healthy to keep?
- Get outside to surround yourself with the environment. Watch the sun set or rise, walk through a park, or experience breathtaking views whenever possible to feel connected with something greater than yourself.
- Carefully consider who and what you affect daily by your thoughts and actions. Are your thoughts and actions positively influencing the relationships with yourself, others, and your higher power?
- Think about your full potential and take healthy risks to live up to what you’re truly made of and who you want to be. Don’t let yourself negatively compare yourself to others – focus on YOU.
- Practice meditation, Tai Chi, or Qigong to let go of everything and everyone around you to fully connect with yourself.
- Take several mini breaks throughout your day to stretch your arms, legs, neck, and back.
- Get 20-30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least 3 days per week through enjoyable activities! Whether it be dancing, swimming, running, lifting, yardwork, tennis, biking – any activity that’s enticing all on it’s own to get you moving.
- Listen to your body – whether it’s to get up and move, get outside, relax, go to sleep, talk with someone, get healthy foods in, or indulge in a favorite food (moderately, of course 😉 )
- Stay hydrated and choose water as your main drink of choice – spice it up with some lemon, ginger, lime, or however you like!
- Adjust open-mindedly to your physical abilities as they change through injuries, surgeries, and simply with age. Stay positive and continuously seek ways to safely and healthily stay active throughout life.
- Embrace your physical body shape and image. Maybe you want to lose weight, get rid of scars, stretch marks, or wrinkles, maybe you don’t like the way your arms or legs look – maybe it’s a combination of things you can and can’t change. Regardless, hating your body never results in anything positive! Your body has been through a lot. Be kind to yourself, accentuate and focus on the positives of your body, and make realistic goals to improve things you can change.
- Embrace your inner child – go do something you enjoyed doing as a kid to bring back good memories, improve your mood, and help you remember what it feels like to have some real fun!
Like I mentioned in the beginning, there is no “right way” to take care of yourself! There are no specific research recommendations or a rule of thumb on how to take care of yourself or how often, it’s just important that you do it to strengthen your self-love and promote a healthy work/life/self balance.
If you’re struggling with where to start, connect with me! I can help you nurture and strengthen the love you have for yourself through your mind, body, and soul.
Yours in health and wellness,