How to practice self-love as a form of self-care
It’s the season of love. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, each of us has love on our mind, be it romantic love, familial love or self-love.
While I’ve never really celebrated Valentine’s, over the last couple of years I’ve put in particular effort in practicing self-love. This has gone beyond buying myself nice things or eating at a fancy restaurant or going on a night on the town. Don’t get me wrong, I still do these things but showing myself love has meant much more. It has meant building a life from which I don’t want a break, one that I wake up to with excitement each morning.
I know that there will be those who read this article who will roll their eyes and proclaim that only those who are single talk about self-love at this time of year. Hear me out. This is not something that I practice when February rolls in. I practice it all year round and only intensify my efforts when the world is trying to tell me that I’m somehow incomplete because I don’t have a partner.
A few years ago, I was in a bad state. I wanted to be in a relationship so badly. I remember asking the universe how come it didn’t give me somebody to love and yet I had so much love to give. However, when the fog cleared from my brain, I began to think, why not give myself this love that I’m so keen to give to someone else? So I started to explore this whole concept of self-love. Up to that point in my life, I thought that loving myself was selfish. I didn’t know how important it was to be content in oneself, to be happy and feel loved from within before extending that love to others.
One of the most important things I did was to take the time to find out what it was I needed most. I wanted a boyfriend because I felt that I was incomplete. This didn’t seem like the right reason to date anybody. Also, I had come from an emotionally abusive relationship and, although it took me time to get there, I needed help sorting through all that before I was ready to be with anyone.
It was this realization that forced me to work on myself. I sought out a therapist and with their help, I’m beginning to understand trauma and to heal. I’m unlearning and relearning many things including how to put my needs first.
Self-love is about that, putting your needs first. I’m not talking about being self-centered or using others to get ahead. I mean looking deep within and realizing that you need to fill your cup so that you can give to others. You have to nourish yourself so that you have the energy and right mental capacity to nourish others.
Do what makes you happy
Another thing that I’ve worked hard to do is ensure that I am happy. Happiness comes in different forms but from what I have learnt recently, for lasting happiness, you have to enjoy the little things of each day. The best way to do this, I have found, is to fill your day with things that make you happy.
Start with your job. Try as much as possible to get a source of employment that makes you happy. You might not be a billionaire but, if you can pay your bills and put something away as your savings if you get a thrill when you go to work when even hurdles in your work don’t put you down, that’s half the work done. We spend the majority of our time at work so why not get a job that makes you happy.
And the rest of the time? Find activities that you enjoy or that you’ve always had an interest in. Do you like to bake? Try out some new recipes. Start that workout you’ve been postponing. Get working on your kitchen garden, even if it’s on a tiny balcony or verandah.
Surround yourself with friends and family who uplift you. It’s okay to cut contact with family who drain all your energy. Your mental health is priceless. Don’t give it up for anything.
Make your space your own. I know this sounds obvious but think about how many times we say, I’ll do that when I build my own house. Since none of us knows how much time we have here on earth, why not do those things now. Paint that wall, buy a new sofa, sign up for that dance class, buy the KitchenAid. Don’t keep for later what you can do now.
Make time for yourself
My goal this month is to set aside one hour every day for myself. During this time, I do a 15-minute workout, meditate, read something inspirational, journal and read a chapter of my novel. Even on days when my day is hectic, I don’t get stressed out because that hour I gave myself in the morning energized me for the rest of the day threw at me.
Ask for help
And when you feel like you can’t do it anymore, ask for help. There’s no shame in admitting that you’re struggling. It took a lot for me to even get the phone number of a therapist let alone call and make an appointment. But it was the best decision I ever made.
So, if you feel like you need to vent, speak to a friend or trusted family member. If you need to, I know a good therapist!
Always remember to extend grace to yourself. Love yourself. You’re the only consistent person in your life so why not love the one who’ll be with you always, you?
How do you practice self-love?
Thank you for stopping by.
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