Valentine’s Day. A day for love. Love is defined as, “an intense feeling of deep affection.” Love comes in many forms: partnership, friendship, hugs, kisses, food, and even solidarity. Many times on Valentine’s Day we put the focus on others in our lives. But I challenge you this Valentine’s Day to love yourself. The saying goes, you can’t love someone else until you truly love yourself. YOU are special, YOU deserve love, and YOU should practice self-love. Here are a few suggestions to show yourself some love:
Self-Acceptance – Accepting yourself for who you are is one of THE most important steps to self-love. In this world of social media there are posts/pictures all the time that can lead one to begin to compare themselves with others. Social media tends to promote “perfect pictures” and that’s not always truth. Stop comparing yourself and begin to accept yourself. We each have beautiful qualities about ourselves, whether they be physical or emotional, that attract people to us. We definitely don’t need to look like or act like anyone else but ourselves. We are unique and different. That’s what makes the world so beautiful.
Minimize – What’s minimalism? Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important – so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom. We often times begin to accumulate “stuff” and we often equate this “stuff” to love. When in fact, sometimes this “stuff” is literally weighing us down. It doesn’t mean you’re not able to own material possessions, but the problem today is the meaning we assign to our stuff. We at times give too much meaning to our things. A minimalist will search for happiness not through things, but rather through life itself. This Wednesday is Valentine’s Day. Rather than buy yourself something that will only last for a small moment in time, i.e chocolate, flowers, etc, treat yourself to an experience – something that you will be able to look back and remember – really living in the moment. Which leads us to the next way to practice self-love:
Pamper Yourself – Respect your body for the amazing vessel that it is! Take care of your body. Simple self-care techniques: exfoliate your skin, take a soothing bath, get a mani/pedi, indulge in a massage, prioritize your sleep routine – all of these are ways to show respect to your body by showing it the love it NEEDS and deserves!
Nourish Your Body – I talk about this one all the time as a dietitian. The old saying, “you are what you eat”. There is some truth to this. Our bodies naturally detoxify themselves (that amazing liver and kidney just doing their thing! You can see me talk about it here in this video I did for the New Tropic). But if we continuously put junk in, we will feel like garbage. Replenish your body with real, whole food. Food can provide the nutrients our bodies need and help sustain us by providing us with the nourishment that we need. This is just one other way to show yourself some love – choosing healthy food WILL help you to thrive!
Write yourself a note – We all have our days. Some days are busier and more stressful than others and that can get the best of us sometimes. Try writing yourself a positive note or have an inspirational quote you like written somewhere so that you can see it first thing in the morning or during the day (when you need to get over the mid-day slump). We all can use a pep talk sometimes and having the reminders nearby is helpful (so the negative thoughts don’t take over).
Be the ENERGY you WANT to attract – “Your friends should motivate and inspire you. Your circle should be well rounded and supportive. Keep it tight. Quality over quantity, always.” As we get older, the number of friends we have does tend to shrink – it’s the shift from having a large volume of friends to having those close to us that we can truly depend on. Your vibe attracts your tribe – be the energy that you want to have surrounding you: uplifting, supportive people.
Be Grateful– Finding things to be grateful for on a daily basis can help change your inner dialogue. This year I made the commitment to start my day and end my day with one thing that I am grateful for. It truly helps me change my perspective on things that I used to think would be “earth shattering” or I would let ruin my day.
We so many times tend to have negative internal conversations with ourselves. Practicing gratitude can help change this internal chatter. Are you grateful for a healthy body – that moves and allows you to be able to do exercise? Are you grateful for your sense of smell – for those freshly baking cookies in the oven –currently the situation in my house. Are you thankful for being able to learn from your mistakes? Are you grateful for this present moment? Gratitude is an attitude of practice.
Let It Go– This is definitely easier said than done. But the truth is you never really are able to move forward unless you do leave the past in the past – “You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk.” ~Louise Smith Each day is new and fresh and I do believe that’s helpful in committing to letting things go. Again, easier said than done, but a step in the right direction if you truly want to move forward.
“Me” Time– Everybody needs ME time. Taking time out of the day, even if it’s just 10 minutes is so important for us. We often times give so much of ourselves – whether it’s at work with our patients or whether it’s at home with our family – the key is to give back to yourself so you have more to give to others. If you run yourself into the ground, what good will you be to anyone else? Don’t feel guilty or think you’re being selfish, think of it as giving back to yourself. This giving back will help you recharge, reset, and reenergize! Not only is this important for you but it’s important for those around you as well.
Disconnect To Connect– In this day and age, we are TOO connected – from our cell phones that receive emails from work to our smart watches that receive text messages (thanks Garmin, but no thanks). Truly take time at the end of the day to disconnect from all of your devices. Evidence shows that our devices are creating havoc when it comes to our sleep patterns – even MORE reason to disconnect. Take time to reconnect with how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking and even what might be going on in your body – I use it as a wind down time before bed. I reflect on the day and write down in my gratitude journal a few things that occurred during the day. A calm mind helps for sound sleep.
Positive Affirmations– With time, positive affirmations can help transform our mind. Truly focusing on the positive moments in our day will help in removing that negative chatter I mentioned before. Start with something positive about yourself. It can be something as simple as your hair looks good this morning or something from the previous day that you’re proud that you accomplished – possibly handling a stressful situation at work in a positive manner. Stay consistent with your positive affirmations, over time it will help change your outlook and again remove the negative self-talk it’s so easy to get into the trap of.
Learn Forgiveness– with yourself! No one is perfect and I’ve always said that practice is what makes perfect. There are going to be some hits and misses – the true failure lies in not even trying! So be a little easy going on yourself and be proud of yourself for even trying. Today I tried making homemade chocolate candies – epic fail. Instead of getting upset with myself I already told myself I WILL be trying again (I’m already reflecting on what went wrong - pretty sure it was the recipe or the lack of a thermometer). And while candy making is not something to get uber upset about, remember this practicing forgiveness goes to the deeper stuff – not beating yourself up at the latest “mistake” you made but rather focusing on what you learned from that situation. Each struggle or mistake helps you to learn new things. This in turn helps us to be strong, amazing people – sure that have some imperfections but that make us each unique beings.
Practice Saying “No”– This one is important. Learning to say no helps you to set boundaries for yourself and helps protect you (from those that WILL take advantage of you). Believe me when I say it IS uncomfortable to say no but it IS important. There’s no way for you to please everyone and sometimes you already have enough on your plate – saying yes will only add to that stress and create aggravation. Remember the goal is to practice self-love – respect yourself by standing up for yourself – and practice saying no (so when the time comes you’ll be able to put yourself first and say no!)
Have FUN! Do not get me wrong – there is definitely a time and place for being serious. But on the flip side, make sure you leave some time for FUN! When was the last time you danced? You sang karaoke? Or went paddle boarding? I’m reading the book, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert and this is the essence of her novel – she wants you to embrace your curiosity, find what fuels your happiness, and face your fears – so you can uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Be creative and find what stokes your spirit – giving back to yourself with some fun!
So this Valentine’s day, as you may be off showing all the special someone’s in your life how much you care for them, don’t forget about YOURSELF!
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” – The Budda