9 Ways to self-love

Self-Love

We’re encouraging everyone to practice and celebrate self-love this Valentine’s Day. No, not the kind of self-love you are thinking a women’s lubricant would be promoting (though we fully support and stand behind pleasuring yourself too)! 

“To love oneself, is the beginning of a life-long romance.”

- Oscar Wilde

What is self-love? Why is self-love so important? “Self Love” refers to our ability to hold ourselves in esteem and have confidence in our worth, no matter what happens around us or to us.

Merriam-Webster defines self-love as the love of self: such as

a: an appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue
Self-love begins when we observe our actions and words with compassion as if we were our own best friend.
— Sara M Bosworth
b: proper regard for and attention to one’s own happiness or well-being
Nurturing your body seems simple, but for me it feels like an extreme act of self-love.
— Danielle d’Entremont

The importance of self-love cannot be overstated. As the topic continues to grow in popularity, it can sometimes be hard to recognize or understand what that really looks like or is. Self-love is not a destination; it’s a practice. It’s the foundation on which we build a happy life. Without it, you have nowhere to put the love and abundance that comes to you from outside of yourself.

As every life-long love story plays out, there will be times when loving yourself is easier and times when your love is tested. When you face failure, inadequacies, the end of a relationship, or insert any one of the many other ways we all can experience difficulty in life, this is usually the time when your self-directed goodwill is tested the greatest. Often times, your internal monologue turns harsh and cold and your cognitive ability to remember all of our faults returns. When you become intentional about self-love, your own well-being and compassion for yourself is at the center.

A wealth of research and studies have shown the positive consequences of self-love and compassion on numerous aspects of your wellbeing. A 2012 study published in Clinical Psychology Review discovered that self-compassion decreases psychological distress including anxiety and depression. The study also found that a self-compassionate view reduces the harmful effects of stress and are linked to decreased mental health problems.

The benefits of self-love are abundant and easy to identify but how can you get better at it and put it into practice more often? It can be hard to recognize what self-love really looks like in practice because there are many different ways to show ourselves love. Figuring out what self-love looks like for you, as an individual, is so important.

Here are 9 ways to start practicing self-love more regularly:

Treat yourself like you would someone you love

As mentioned earlier, treating yourself like you would a good friend or loved one is something that should be put into practice every day.  It doesn’t matter who you are with or where you are, it’s vital to practice supportive and kind internal dialogue. When you’re trying to recover from setbacks, saying kinder things to yourself won’t just help you feel better, it can also help you perform better.

Retreat to your happy place

Self-love is all about connecting with and protecting yourself. One of the easiest places to do this is somewhere that makes you instantly happy and helps you clear your mind of all that life is throwing at you. Think of a place where you feel at peace to just be. This can look different for everyone. It may be a place where you can sit quietly, meditate, and just embrace the moment. Or it could be a place where you can listen to calming music, move and flow within your body and feel all of the positive energy of the earth. Identifying your happy place or places will allow you to retreat there when the time comes. 

Protect Your Energy

Research shows that positive energy is contagious, so it’s always important to have a community you value and who value you, around you always. A great way to build this type of community is to learn to set healthy boundaries that protect and nurture your relationships, with yourself and others. Identify how you’re spending your emotional, mental, and physical energy, and whether these connections and transactions are bringing you joy, are nurturing, and/or allowing you to rest. Choose to cultivate  and invest in the sources of positive energy and break ties with anything that leaves you feeling tired, overwhelmed and/or just plain done. Choose to protect yourself and your energy, even if it means you upset someone. When you recognize that a situation or person is creating a negative force in your life, choosing yourself is one of the greatest forms of self-love. 

Fail With Grace

Allow yourself to make mistakes.When you make a mistake or something doesn’t work out the way you hoped it would, give yourself some grace and remind yourself that you aren’t perfect, you are human. When those disempowering thoughts arise and your mind begins to rehash all of your past mistakes, which in turn begins to drag you into an even darker space, STOP these thoughts in their tracks and replace them with empowering thoughts immediately. Remember you can’t change the past, you can only learn from it. Failing with grace simply means to love and accept all of you, regardless of your accomplishments and successes. You’re not perfect, and you can’t do it all. You’re the same as everyone else, including those you love, so you should hold yourself to the same expectations you hold others to. It’s important to remember that if you aren’t failing at anything, that means you also aren’t trying anything either. Give yourself room to make mistakes and refrain from berating yourself when you do. Instead, choose to appreciate that you have a desire to learn and grow and offer yourself the same compassion and kindness you would offer someone you love.

Take Care of your body

Give your body the rest it needs, be physically active regularly, and nourish your body to the best of your ability. Be intentional about what you put into your body and feed it nutrient-rich foods.  Don’t do this to look good (it’s a great byproduct however) but because you want to feel good. When troubling times arise and you need some extra self-love, cook yourself a delicious favorite healthy meal. Or perhaps your body craves rest more than anything, order delivery.  Take time to enjoy the flavor of each bite and truly experience the taste and good feeling.

Pamper yourself with gratitude

Unplug from the world and give yourself a pampering session. A great way to do this is a home facial, some organic body butter to moisturize and top it off with a mani/pedi. As you move through pampering each part of your body, think about how grateful you are for each of their functions and what they do for your daily.  As you rub serum around your eyes, thank them for all the beauty they have shown you in your life. As you rub the body butter into your legs, be grateful to them for all of the places you have traveled and the celebrations where you have been able to dance (even if most don’t consider the way you move, as dancing 😉 ). When you moisturize your hands, appreciate the loved ones you have touched, the food you have been able to nourish your body with by eating and all of the hand you’ve shaken of those beautiful souls you have met along the way. Truly take the time to thank your body, show it gratitude, feel the sensations in each area and relish how blessed you are.

Stop Comparing Yourself

Comparison if the thief of joy AND yet, we all do it. It’s become so easy to scroll through social media and see our favorite influencers in the middle of a photoshoot for their new book, just after their all expenses paid shopping venture they just completed after posting about their rock hard abs. WHAT?! It can be difficult to look at everyone else’s highlight reel and not feel a level of inadequacy. It’s important to realize that we are all human and everyone has bad days. It’s important to remember that we are perfectly imperfect.  Intentionally interrupt your pattern thoughts of compare and despair and remind yourself of all you have to be thankful for. 

Do a digital detox

Social media and the internet is one of the biggest drains on self-love today. Both are filled with articles telling you all of things you lack and photos of meticulously staged “I woke up like this” photos.  many offering unrealistic solutions of how to help you be wealthier, happier, thinner, smarter, etc. Whether you take time and spend it in the real world with your people or reading a book alone, take time away from the electronics and unplug.

Surround yourself with support

As much as we would like to think we can, we can’t do it all ourselves. Surround yourself with a group of people who will support you in your time of need and remind you of all of the many reasons there are to love yourself. You need the support and love from people around you to stay motivated and on track. 

When you are at your lowest, feeling sick, or bombarded with self-deprecating thoughts, having a plan to drench yourself in self-love is the quickest way to recover. Let’s get inspired this Valentine’s Day to challenge each other to practice self-love each and every day and to have a plan should our self-love tank need refilling. Self-love is a gift you give yourself and it’s recommended that you practice it daily.

 

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