Whether you’re all for the rose-coloured romance of Valentine’s Day or dread the capital consumerism and unfulfilled expectations of February 14th, most of us can agree that love is something to be celebrated.
This February, as the world spends the day basking in affection and making grand romantic gestures, we’re shining the spotlight on self-love. What is self-love? Many reduce it down to ‘Treat Yo Self’ culture that revolves around manicures and 10-hour binge watching sessions, but self-love, at its core, is about placing importance in valuing yourself and holding your wellbeing in high regard.
It’s one thing to be told, ‘you need to love yourself more’, and another to actually practice it consistently. To serve you in your self-love journey, here are some practical ways to show up for yourself every day.
It’s easy to fall into autopilot mode in the routine rush of day-to-day life. Self-love requires you to be present in the moment, and open to your own thoughts, feelings, desires so that you can reflect and act on them in a clear and balanced way. Start with some breathing exercises, journaling, and practising gratefulness. The act of slowing down and paying attention is counter-cultural in this non-stop modern world, yet crucial if we are going to embrace ourselves and our lives with compassion and kindness.
It may be a cliche at this point, but it’s true that comparison is the thief of joy. It is a human tendency to measure ourselves by where we stand in relation to everyone else, whether that’s with our appearance, career, or relationships. With the constant barrage of curated, picture-perfect filtered lives filling up our social media feeds, our image of ourselves and our own lives gets more and more distorted with each scroll. Recognise that you’re seeing the highlight reel of others and not the full reality, acknowledge your own strengths and accomplishments, and focus your comparisons on yourself – how far you’ve grown, improved and progressed over the years.
Taking time to care for your essential needs is undoubtedly an important part of self-love. Spas and bubble baths may spring to mind when the term ‘self-care’ is uttered, but the concept of taking care of yourself encompasses far more than that. From eating well and exercising, to creating a routine and regulating your me-time, practicing self-care is about filling up your mental, emotional and physical tank so that you are at the best possible space to then also care for others.
Challenge self-defeating thoughts
Often when a negative thought pops up in our heads that tells us we’re not good enough, we let it pass through without questioning if these statements are really true. Next thing you know, you’re in a downward brain spiral of self-doubt and despair. Sometimes a degree of scepticism is necessary when it comes to self-defeating thoughts. The next time that happens, hold that thought and critically examine whether it’s a factual assessment and reflect on what made you feel this way and how you can correct your thought pattern to focus on your successes.
Failure is an inevitable part of being human, and yet we have a habit of beating ourselves up for our mistakes. While it is important to take responsibility for our actions, it is also equally crucial to recognise that getting things wrong is how we learn and grow. There is value in embracing failures, forgiving yourself, and moving forward with the lessons learnt. Part of loving yourself is to be kind and gracious to yourself, which means not carrying the weight of guilt with you everywhere you go. Make a conscious decision to not dwell on past actions and know that you’re not defined by your mistakes.