Self-love is defined as “a high regard for one’s own happiness and well-being, taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing them to please others.” It also means not accepting any less than what you deserve.
Self-love is a great practice to get into the habit of doing this year, and what better time to start something new for yourself than in January. Practicing self-love is critical to our well-being and our overall happiness, and something I think should be prioritized. It can help you become more self-aware, recognize patterns in relationships, make better decisions that align with your best interests, and help frame how you think about yourself.
I’m an over-analyzer, and I spend hours upon hours upon hours reliving moments and conversations I’ve had, wishing I had done something different or said something different, or wondering if I hurt someone’s feelings or came across rude or was completely misunderstood. I focus on all of the things I feel I did wrong, and it truly affects my mental state through the next day.
I’ve learned over the years how important it is to forgive yourself. It’s okay to make mistakes or say the wrong things sometimes. No one is perfect, and as long as you learn from mistakes you’ve made, you are growing. Give yourself some room to grow and be forgiving.
Do something nice for yourself
We all deserve to feel special, and I like to do things for myself that make me feel that way. I love fresh flowers, so I buy myself flowers regularly. I feel much better mentally when my office and home are organized and clean, so I make sure to make time to do both at least once a week. I love a good spa treatment, so even if I can’t afford to go to the spa regularly, I make time for at home spa treatments once a week — whether it’s a facial, hair mask, or foot soak.
Write encouraging notes on your mirror
I’m someone that loves a good affirmation or two, and I like to leave them on my mirror since that’s when I usually engage in negative self-talk the most. I leave little notes to remind myself to love and accept myself, and it helps me remember to do just that, even on days where I struggle with how I’m looking or feeling.
Wear clothes that make you feel good
I’m also someone that really struggles mentally and emotionally when I don’t feel comfortable in the clothes I’m wearing. Anytime I am self-conscious about my outfit or how I look in the clothes that I’m wearing, it completely takes over all of the space in my brain and I can’t focus on anything else, especially enjoying an event or other people.
Wear clothing that makes you feel good about yourself so that you can not only be comfortable, but confident in every setting. Focus on attributes that you love about yourself and your body and use your clothes and accessories to highlight those. I’m very self-conscious of my arms for many different reasons, so I know that I’m not going to feel overly confident in anything sleeveless. I am more comfortable showing off my legs than my arms, so I try to find outfits that highlight my legs instead. The important thing is feeling good in what you’re wearing so that you can carry that confidence through whatever you are doing and be able to enjoy each moment.
Engage in movement that makes you happy
I’ve spent a large amount of time forcing myself to workout, engaging in activities I didn’t enjoy, that sometimes even felt torturous, on the mission of exercising. I was always of the mindset that I had to push my body to its limits and a workout had to fall into a specific category.
Now I look at physical activity a little differently. I stopped forcing myself to do things I didn’t enjoy, and instead, engage in movement throughout the day that makes me happy. Do you love being outside? Go for a long walk or hike and connect with nature. Are you someone that enjoys getting aggression out and the endorphins that come along with it? Try a kickboxing or boxing class. If you would rather work out at home, there are so many workouts available for free on YouTube. Do you love to dance? Set aside 20-30 minutes to put your headphones on and dance your heart out. Adding physical activity to your day that makes you happy and brings you joy is so much more worthwhile that forcing yourself to lift weights or run those 5 miles, unless you really love to do either. Exercise comes in many different forms and there is no right or wrong answer to what makes you feel good.
Set healthy boundaries without guilt
As someone who feels pressure and responsibility to please everyone, this has been a learning for me, and continues to be something I work on regularly. It has been incredibly empowering to set boundaries with all of the relationships in my life and not feel guilty about it. Trying to make everyone happy usually causes stress and frustration, and eventually resentment. By learning to say no to people and things, you are embracing only the things that make you happy and bring you joy. I’ve learned to engage in activities that energize me rather than exhaust me. I say no to events that cause me stress, and I don’t allow people to take advantage of my friendships. I don’t feel guilty doing any of these things because I’ve learned that it’s not only okay, but it’s important to put your own well-being first. If you aren’t feeling well and healthy, you’ll never be able to offer the best part of yourself to the people that deserve it.
Write a love letter to yourself
This is something that helps you focus on all of the wonderful qualities you have to offer the world, because you have so many no matter who you are. Take some time to write a letter to yourself, highlighting all of the reasons you are loved — as a boss, coworker, mom, dad, sister, brother, son, daughter, friend, wife or husband. What makes you unique and what do you offer those around you?
A part of the letter should also focus on the things you deserve. Talk to yourself as though you are talking to your closest friend, and describe the types of relationships and the things you deserve in this life. Affirm all of the things that make you, you, and why that is wonderful.
Whenever you have a bad day, are feeling emotional, are stressed in a situation or relationship, or are doubting yourself and your abilities, take this letter out and read it. Read it over and over again to remind yourself how much love you deserve from yourself and others.
Try the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
The Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, is an alternative treatment for emotional stress and physical pain. It’s a therapeutic psychological tool that is often referred to as “tapping”. It focuses on energy hot spots throughout our bodies to restore energy balance. Restoration of energy balance relieves symptoms of negative experiences and associated emotions.
EFT works by using the fingertips to tap and/or apply pressure to your energy hot spots, reducing stress and anxiety. You can Google EFT to find a chart of the hot spots in your body, and practice EFT on your own.
One of the fundamental principles of EFT is that you acknowledge issues you are facing and accept yourself despite them.
Being mindful means being aware of the present moment. Rather than getting caught up in or distracted by things that have already happened or stress about things to come, mindfulness focuses on things happening her and now, in order to focus on emotions, thoughts, surroundings and body sensations.
Self-love is enhanced when we are aware of what we think, feel and want. Being aware of your emotions and wants helps you to focus on goals of self-interest, rather than what other people may want for you. It also allows you to act on what you need, rather than what you want, and the wisdom and awareness to recognize the difference.
Try taking 10-15 minutes each day to practice mindfulness. You can try this through meditation, writing in a journal, or just taking a few moments to pause and reflect in a moment to recognize how you are feeling and why.