The concept of self-love has always been hard for me to grasp because I spent so long at war with myself. I always equated self-love to having the perfect body, and because I could never achieve that (Newsflash: No One Can) I felt that I could never truly love myself. I spent a lot of time looking for love and validation in other people, which put me in some really unhealthy relationships. It wasn’t until I realized that I am capable of living in a state of love all on my own that my life started to change for the better. We spend so much time focusing on our relationships with other people that we often forget about the one we have with ourselves. We’re willing to jump through hoops to please others, but how often do we do that for ourselves? We would never fathom putting up with an abusive relationship with someone else, but how often do you talk down to yourself on a daily basis? How often do you really give thought to your relationship with yourself? If you haven’t done that in a while, I suggest taking some time out to really tune into that relationship. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it abusive? Once you’ve tuned in to the current state of your relationship with yourself, here are some tips to improve that relationship, and to cultivate the self-love you need and deserve.
- Create and Commit to a Morning Routine
Mornings are powerful. You can make or break your day by how you spend your morning, so why not dedicate some serious time to it? When we spend our mornings rushing to get out the door we set ourselves up for a hectic day right off the bat, but if we slow down, and take our time getting ready for the day ahead, it’s much easier to take that mindset with you the rest of the day. Wondering how you’re going to find extra time in the morning to slow down? Start with just five minutes. Set your alarm five minutes earlier than you normally would and start from there (without pressing snooze!)
- Self Care
This one seems like a no brainer, but you can understand where this gets hard. Showering, brushing our teeth, doing our hair, all of these things have become second nature to us at this point, but sometimes when we’re down on ourselves, or spend an entire day in bed these things get pushed to the back burner. Make self care a priority in your life. No matter what your day looks like, make sure you’re taking time out to physically take care of yourself, and when you do that, take a little extra time to do something special. For me, putting on lotion is a big one. It’s something small and simple, and something most people do without even thinking about it, but I often skip it because I’m in a hurry. When I get out of the shower and moisturize, I feel like I’m doing something good for myself, and that’s really important. It’s not anything huge, but it’s something small I can do on a daily basis to show myself that I’m worth the extra time, and I care about myself.
- Date Yourself
I love this one because it’s fun! Often times we think that dating is strictly for people in relationships, but let’s take a second to break down that idea. We go on dates with our partner to spend time with them and enjoy their company. If we think about the idea of having a relationship with ourselves, don’t we also deserve that time alone to enjoy our own company? At first, this can sound scary, it’s really hard to be alone with your thoughts, especially if you aren’t used to it, but once you get used to the idea it can be extremely therapeutic. Take yourself out to a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. Go to that museum you’ve been wanting to check out. That art opening? Take yourself! When we constantly look for other people to experience things with, we’re sometimes subconsciously settling. We’re worrying about whether or not the other person will enjoy the activity, instead of just spending our time in the moment enjoying it ourselves. When you do things on your own, you only have to do things that YOU like and enjoy. You can be present in the moment, form your own opinions on the experience, and I believe that’s really important in discovering our true selves. I challenge you to try it once a month. Even if it’s just an hour at a coffee shop you’ve been wanting to try. I promise you’ll end up loving it, and looking forward to your monthly date.
Ok, I won’t spend much time on this one, because we all know how important exercise is, but because it is important, I wanted to touch on it. We all know that exercise releases endorphins, that natural chemical that makes you feel good, and self-love is all about feeling good. Many people get caught up in the word exercise and write it off because they don’t enjoy lifting weights or running, but exercise can be anything that gets you moving and increases your heart rate. Yoga, walking, rollerblading, dancing with your kids, all of that is exercise, so find something you really enjoy doing and dedicate just thirty minutes to it a day.
Meditation has started to become more mainstream, which I’m loving, but I still feel that people have a skewed idea of what meditation is, and the time it takes. Put simply, meditation is just focusing on the moment that you’re in while you’re in it. Seems simple and complicated at the same time, right? I promise you, once you start it won’t be as complicated as it seems. There are a million ways that you can go about meditation, but if you have access to a smartphone, I recommend trying the Headspace app. It’s available in the Android marketplace or on the iTunes store, and the app itself is free to download. Once you download the app you can get ten days for free, which I think gives you a really great base, and a good idea of what meditation looks like. After the ten days, you can continue to use Headspace by paying for a subscription, or you can start meditating on your own with your new found skills. If you don’t want to mess with Headspace, there are also tons of resources on YouTube that you can check out, but I really believe that Headspace and apps like it (Calm, Aura, etc) give you the most education about meditation, and lays it out beautifully with really zero effort on your part, outside of the whole meditation part of course.
So, now that you have a few tips on how to make your relationship with yourself the best it can be, try them out! Set some goals, maybe focus on just one of these each week. Start to create a healthy relationship with yourself and see how your life changes!