I first heard the expression “self-love” a few years ago but to be honest, I didn’t give it much thought. As I began to delve more into my personal growth and emotional development, I kept encountering this expression.
What exactly is self-love? It seems pretty self-explanatory. You love yourself, right? But how come many of us aren’t taught this behavior or how to practice it? If you Google it on Wikipedia, it is defined as regard for one’s own well-being and happiness. Profound, yes? Or perhaps just a polite way of saying “selfish”.
And that’s just it. Many of us feel guilty for putting our own feelings and needs first. For doing this for ME. I am sure those that are parents, in relationships or caregivers can relate to this and can admit that at times they struggle with this concept. How can one make time for ME when there are others that depend on ME? I once heard someone describe the importance of taking time for yourself using this analogy- If you had a car that was running low on gas, you wouldn’t wait for the tank to be empty before taking the TIME to refill the gas. You wouldn’t run your car into depletion. Apply that analogy now to you- if you are a mum, a nurse, a manager, a teacher and so forth, would you wait until you are in depletion before taking the time for yourself? The logical answer is no but the reality is we often don’t take the time we need for ourselves, and if we do, some of us feel guilty for doing so. It isn’t that we disregard our own happiness or that we don’t love ourselves, is it? Or is it that we feel so guilty and we can’t prioritize and feel “better” by giving more… by doing more.
I know I am very guilty of this. I am by nature a giver and I feel that saying no and not putting others before me has made me feel like a terrible friend, girlfriend, daughter, health care provider etc. But at times I get to the point of being emotionally and physically exhausted, that I feel the weight of the world is on my shoulders and the guilt turns into me withdrawing from the world. If you are like me, how can we tip the scale so that it becomes more balanced? How can we starting taking care of ME and loving ME?
For me, self-care is a huge component of self-love. While I am not an expert in this area, it is one where I have spent some time trying to understand in recent years and I would like to share with you a few recommendations for things that you can do to improve your well-being; to practice some self-love.
For more information about self-love, refer to the following websites:
- Reflective Practice & Journaling
Reflective practice, simply put, is taking a moment to consciously reflect on what you have done, and maybe what you continue to do. Journaling is a great way to document these thoughts and behaviors as it can be therapeutic. There is evidence that supports the positive impact journaling can have on your physical well-being.
Start by taking a few minutes daily and just write whatever comes to mind. If that seems too overwhelming and non-focused, one of my favourite journals is “The 5 minute Journal”. And just as the name suggests, it takes no more than 5 minutes a day.
First thing in the morning, take 5 minutes to yourself and in this guided journal, write down what you are grateful for, what would make today great and end with a daily affirmation. At the end of the day you have another opportunity to reflect by documenting 3 great things that happened that day as well as what could have made the day better. Doing this every day is super helpful for transitioning your mind to thinking positively especially about yourself.
For those of you who aren’t particularly fond of writing, you can download the “5 minute journal” app on your smartphone. Personally, I enjoy having a tea while writing in my journal as they are a complimentary start and finish to my day.
Meditation is a practice that takes a lot of work. A LOT. It is definitely something I personally need to improve but when I do engage in this practice, it makes me feel calm and allows me to “reset” myself.
I try it for 10 minutes a day, and just focus on counting my breaths in and out. This is especially great after having a highly stressful or negative encounter and you want to calm yourself down (to my mummy and daddy readers, this is a great practice to zoning out your nagging kids. Even better, maybe try to engage them in this practice so everyone can gain a few minutes of silence).
During my time at Blooming Lotus where I did a 1 week yoga and meditation retreat, I encountered the practice of yoga nidra- a form of guided meditation. It isn’t for everyone but for me it works.
For more information on how to practice yoga nidra, please refer to the following website:
For a guided script, please refer to the following you tube video link:
Another App that I do recommend is one called Head Space. It can guide you through meditation from your smartphone so you have it with you on the go.
You can also refer to their website for more information:
I also want to share an infographic that demonstrates the science why meditation makes you so much happier:
3. Reading a book
This is probably a go to for many as it is a quick “me” time activity that can be done at any time in the comfort of your bed or sofa. Better yet, in the summertime grab a spot under a tree or by the beach and get lost in someone else’s world. If getting through a book is too much, perhaps a magazine or blog.
Here’s a public service announcement- if you live in Toronto (and I’m sure many other cities offer this), sign up for a Iibrary card and you can borrow e-books for free! You can read these books off a smartphone, iPad or tablet.
4. Sports, Fitness or Social Activity
You can take ME time that doesn’t necessarily mean isolated time. It can mean time away from the norm or a break from taking care of the family and work. Take that salsa class, go for that body pump class at your gym or join that volleyball league. Do you!
5. At home pampering or a visit to the spa/ salon
Us ladies are a sucker for this. I used to think this was a pointless activity and a waste of money. But as life’s demands became more stressful, I developed an appreciation for some pampering. I may not be into manis and pedis but I definitely enjoy a massage. I treated myself to a massage at the Four Seasons Spa in Toronto for my birthday and it certainly lives up to its reputation of being one of the best spas in the city.
For more information on this spa, please refer to their website below:
If you have benefits for massage, use them! And if you don’t, treat yourself to one once in a while. You don’t have to wait for a special occasion. For those watching your $, companies like Sutherland-Chan offer student rates i.e. their students in training so MUCH cheaper than at a spa. Or check out Groupon for reduced rates for spas in your area.
Photo taken at Four Season Spa in Toronto
You also don’t have to go to a salon or spa to get some pampering. You can do it at home. Schedule some ME time once a week or every other week and give yourself a hair and face mask, do your nails, all while listening to some music. Maybe take it a step further and light some candles. Draw a bath and zone the world out. And here’s a game changer- you can make your own flower bath just as if you are teleported to a fancy spa in Bali. Most florals shops have bags of petals and don’t advertise they sell them. Ask them! I bought enough to fill this entire tub for $3 at the flower market in Yorkville in Toronto. Take a time out from the world for 30 minutes, fill the bath with water, flowers, some essential oil like lavender, light some candles, play some music and relax!!
After reading these suggestions, I hope I have encouraged you to take some time to practice some self-love.