Ah, February--the month of yummy chocolates, heart-shaped balloons, and love. But while we’re off planning romantic dinners with our partners or fun movie nights with our BFFs, we often forget about our most important relationship: the one with ourselves.
Self-love is super important for everyone to practice (especially during a global pandemic) and if you’re finding it hard to carve out time for yourself, there are several reasons why you should clear out your schedule for, well, you! Read on to learn why we all need to practice self-love and ways to do it.
Why self-love is important
Most of us can relate to being too hard on ourselves to get the perfect grade or get a promotion or be the highest earner but being an extremely hard worker is not all it’s cracked up to be (even if society says it is.) Not to get all science-y on you, but studies have shown that people who are perfectionists are at a higher risk for both mental and physical illnesses. If you’re still not convinced, a few effects of being a perfectionist includes depression, eating disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, and even a shorter lifespan. It’s even been found that it’s more difficult for those who are hard on themselves to recover from life-threatening diseases such as cancer. But what does this have to do with self-love?
Well at its core, self-love is really about acceptance. It means accepting who you are and loving that person instead of being in a constant state of stress to change. Scolding yourself for things like not being the first in your class or getting rejected from a new job lessens your own self-worth and leads to anxiety and depression. Self-love is all about accepting those moments when you are down, treating ourselves with kindness when we’ve seen better days, and doing things to pick ourselves up from the slump. It may be easier said than done, but the road to self-love and acceptance is much less bumpy than you may think.
How to practice self-love
While much of self-love starts mentally, there are many things you can do to rekindle the relationship with yourself within the comfort of your own home. For many, self-love starts with simple acts of self-care. If you need some ideas to getting on the road to self-compassion and love, we got you covered.
- Disconnect from your phone and social media. It’s hard, we get it. But taking time out of your day to put the phone down and spend time with yourself is so important to accepting who you are. Scrolling through social media can oftentimes create an unrealistic image of who we need to be, how much money we need to make, and what we need to look like which can lead to perfectionism. Use this time to read a new book series, do a puzzle, or even relax in the bath with a glass of wine. Your mind will thank you for it, trust us.
- Get moving! We’re all guilty of staring at our computer screens too long while working from home or lounging on the couch for hours to binge a new show but being active can help in so many ways! When people think of exercising, they usually only think of the physical changes it can have on our bodies when in fact, being active is so important to help relieving anxiety and depression. It also gives us a chance to focus on our own bodies and minds to practice self-care. Even if it’s walking around the block on your lunch break or doing 10-minute yoga flow, any movement is a step in the right direction.
- Eat healthy but don’t cut out your favorite foods! Like exercise, eating nutritious food is great for both your body and mind but don’t forget to indulge in your favorite foods time to time. Fad diets and ‘cheat days’ need to be thrown out the door in exchange for foods that make you feel good from the inside out, whether that be a salad or a big bowl of pasta. Listen to your body and mind to understand what you really need.
- Connect with others. And we don’t mean over Instagram! While it has been a challenge to see friends and family this past year, it’s so important to be around and talk with those who love you. We’re usually the best version of ourselves when we’re with the people we love which is a huge step to self-acceptance. Even if you can’t safely meet up with your grandparents or BFFs, call them on the phone, do a virtual cooking class over Zoom, or watch a movie together. At the end of the day, self-love doesn’t only mean spending time with ourselves, but also those who love us for simply being us!
- Let go of any toxicity. Speaking of loved ones, it’s not wrong or mean to cut people out of your life who only bring negativity or make you feel like a lesser person. We’ve all had those friends or family members that we dread talking to or seeing which is usually a telltale sign that they’re not good for your mental sanity. It can be a difficult thing to do but you will thank yourself in the long run.
- Celebrate yourself! As humans, we’ve gotten into the habit of only celebrating large events such as birthdays or promotions, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Not every day is going to bring a big change but it’s still important to celebrate yourself for the little things such as cooking a good meal or making your bed.
Don’t forget that self-love is what you make it so there will never be a right or wrong way to practice it. Figure out what works for you and make those loving moments a ritual in your daily routine. Always remember, you are perfect the way you are and we’re our own biggest critic in this world! Once you let that stress of being perfect go, you can focus on making the changes that are right for you.