This Valentine’s Day we ask that you take some time to practice ‘self-love’.
Self-love means accepting yourself fully, treating yourself with kindness and respect, and nurturing your growth and wellbeing. It means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing yourself to please others. But most importantly, it means not settling for less than you deserve.
Self-love isn’t about being selfish, it’s about making sure you have time to recharge and have the energy and resources to be there for others. To practise self-love, take some time out for yourself and do the following…
Listen to your body
These days everyone lives a fast-paced life - at work, we have urgent deadlines to meet, in the evenings we have chores to do, at the weekends we have people to see, etc. But regardless of how preoccupied you are, to be able to enjoy the life you need to take some time out to listen to your body and its needs. If you feel tired all the time, you may be overworked and need to rest. If you feel achy all the time, you may have to adjust your exercise routine. If you are irritable, you may actually be stressed. We have normalised feeling down in our day to day lives, but if you simply listen to your body, you’ll find what you need to do to feel your best again.
Meet your own needs
Once you know what your needs are, it’s vital for your well-being to prioritise them. Many people consider putting others before yourself a virtue, and while it’s good to be selfless, you should never sacrifice your own well-being for others. It’s important to make sure your own needs are met, otherwise you’re just going to suffer. Make your needs a priority in your life, so that you can be happy and healthy, and so that you have the energy and resources to care for others properly.
Switch off your phone and connect with yourself or others
Many of us rely on our devices to shut off after a hectic day, but in reality, these devices keep our brains whirring and actually prevent us from getting much needed ‘downtime’. Instead, spend the time you would normally spend mindlessly scrolling through social media or binge-watching a show, to connect with yourself or others. To allow your brain to rest and recover, connect with yourself by going for a walk, or taking up a relaxing hobby, or just spending the evening pampering yourself. And to improve your sense of happiness and well-being, connect with your loved ones by meeting up for coffee, or doing an activity together, or just giving them a quick phone call.
Set realistic expectations
It’s good to have dreams and aspirations in life, just so long as you don’t get disappointed when things don’t work out as you want them to. That’s why it’s important to set realistic expectations so that when things go well they actually exceed your expectations rather than just meet them.
Recognize your strengths
A big part of self-love is appreciating yourself. Recognising that you have your own unique set of strengths and positive qualities and that there isn’t anyone else like you. In that spirit, don’t worry what others think of you and try not to compare yourself to others - everyone is different, so instead of trying to be someone else, focus on your journey and be the best possible version of yourself.
Let go of toxic people
A sad truth about life is that you’re bound to meet toxic people, who will try and take advantage of you and make you feel worse about yourself. And, so long as you keep these kinds of people in your life, it will be hard to feel confident or good about yourself. Which is why one of the first steps to loving yourself is letting them go.
It’s not always easy to identify toxic people, but as a rule of thumb, if you feel insecure or down when you’re around them, then they’re toxic. Another thing to look out for is whether or not they make an effort. If their words differ from their actions, or if it's always you reaching out to them, then they don’t care about you as much as you care about them, and you should cut them out of your life. Instead, surround yourself with people who raise your self-esteem and who make you feel happy. Self-love is the foundation that allows us to be assertive, set boundaries and create healthy relationships with others and ourselves.
So, make the effort to incorporate these into your daily life and love yourself!