February 14, 2023
The Power of Self-Love: The Art of Loving Yourself First
By: Carly Peterson, BASc
Valentine’s Day is here. The time of year to celebrate relationships with those closest to us, including ourselves. We devote a lot of precious time to our loved ones but rarely take a moment to reflect inward. While it’s common to get caught up in the effort of pleasing others, it’s important to take care of ourselves and our own needs. (1) Everyone knows the saying, “You can't pour from an empty cup” and this couldn’t be more true. It is essential to prioritize self-care in order to be the best version of you!
What exactly is self love? Self-love means something different to everyone as we all have different needs (2). Practicing it in our daily routines is not something that always comes easily, it takes practice and repetition. Self-love can mean setting boundaries, meeting our personal needs and understanding our own self-worth (1). It's also about treating ourselves with kindness and compassion and evolving our mind and body.
A good rule-of-thumb when it comes to showing yourself some love is to treat yourself as you would treat others, or wish others would treat you. If you hope to be complimented, compliment yourself first. If you want to be motivated, motivate yourself first. If you wish for flowers, you can buy yourself flowers! (Right Miley?!) Be confident in yourself, and although it’s great to have a village, it is also great to know you can rely on yourself as well.
You are evolving and changing all the time. What makes you happy and feel fulfilled? What is important to you? Take time to turn inwards and get to know yourself better. Doing so can boost your confidence and self esteem (3).
Write in a Journal - even for a few minutes a day. Write about how you are feeling and things you are thinking about.
Vision Board - create a board filled with your dreams and goals (4). Use this masterpiece as a form of motivation and refer to it often. Update it as your intentions change and hold yourself accountable to at least work towards them.
Affirmations - positive self-talk can be difficult to do, especially if we are not used to it. Talk to yourself like you would a friend. Be kind and forgiving. You can try writing love notes to yourself on little sticky notes and leave them around your home.
Meditate - incorporating even a few minutes of meditation daily can help train your mind to be aware of old habits and help build new positive ones (3).
You are worth the same energy you give to others. You wouldn’t criticize a friend who was sad and having a bad day. You also wouldn’t let your child go the whole day without eating anything, and you shouldn’t do that to yourself either. The world is filled with critics and mean people, however, we are the voice we hear the most (4). This makes it doubly important that the voice in your head is positive and shows self-appreciation (2). As unnatural as it can feel to speak gently to yourself, you are deserving of kindness.
Social media makes it easy to compare our lives to the tiny glimpses we see of other people and their seemingly perfect lives. We as a species are naturally competitive so it’s only human to compare ourselves to others (5). Ideally though, the only person you should gently compare yourself to is past versions of yourself. If you are going to be on social media, try to only follow accounts that bring you joy and motivation.
Self-love isn't just about mental health; it's also about physical health. There are many great things you can teach your body or do for yourself that benefits your overall well-being.
Skill Building - try new activities or improve on old skills.
Be Active - do whatever motivates you to move. Maybe it’s going for a run, cleaning your house, fixing your garden, a midday dance party or simply a walk.
Spend Time Outdoors - fresh air is known to clear away negative energy and open the mind (4). Whether you are going for a walk with the dog, having a picnic in the park or climbing a mountain.
When we take care of ourselves, we're more likely to engage in healthy behaviors like exercising, eating nutritious foods, and getting enough sleep. When we do these things, we improve our physical health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and feel better overall.
There is a word in the Scandinavian languages called lagom. It means, “Not too little, not too much, just the right amount.” It is great to experience some luxuries in life, but everything should be done in moderation.
- Hold yourself accountable and don’t over-indulge.
- Learn from your mistakes but don’t beat yourself up when you make them.
- Love yourself deeply, without holding yourself on a pedestal above others.
Self-love is a balancing act that can be difficult to master. Set boundaries for yourself and stick to them whenever possible. Nurture your mind and body, and accept yourself as you are (2). Surround yourself with small moments of joy and take rest when needed.
In conclusion, self-love is important because you deserve it! We so often put the needs of others before our own, but it's time to start putting ourselves first (6). So, whether it's taking a yoga class, treating yourself to a massage, or simply taking a nap, do what makes you happy and feel good. Spend today and everyday blasting some self-love songs, decorating your mirror with love letters to yourself and doing the things that make you feel good. Get outside, eat good food and make plans your future self will be grateful for. Self-love is more than just a luxury; it's a necessary part of maintaining good mental and physical health and you'll feel better for it. And remember, self-love is an ongoing process, so make sure to make time for it every day. Your mind and body will thank you!
- 1. https://psychcentral.com/blog/imperfect/2019/05/what-is-self-love-and-why-is-it-so-important
- 2. https://www.bbrfoundation.org/blog/self-love-and-what-it-means
- 3. https://www.headspace.com/mindfulness/self-love
- 4. https://blog.alomoves.com/mindfulness/7-ways-to-start-practicing-self-love-right-now
- 5. https://www.healthline.com/health/13-self-love-habits-every-woman-needs-to-have#1.-Stop-comparing-yourself-to-others
- 6. https://www.forbes.com/health/mind/how-to-practice-self-love/