Do you love yourself unconditionally?
Do you take proper care of yourself?
Do you take actions and behave in ways that are aligned with your values?
In today’s day and age, self-care and self-love are terms that are thrown around pretty frequently. But does anyone really know what the hell they mean, and what they entail?
When I was first introduced to these terms, my mind conjured up an image of a fit person doing yoga in a forest, lighting incense, taking bubble baths, using crystals, meditating, masturbating, drinking green smoothies (out of a mason jar), and hugging trees.
While loving and caring for yourself can absolutely look like meditation, yoga, etc., and, I highly recommend all of the above, there are also additional self-care and self-love practices that are less obvious, more individualized, and more creative.
So, what do self-care and self-love actually mean?
Self-care is anything we do deliberately in order to take care of ourselves, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Self-care practices should be things that refuel you, make you feel good, and that help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
Self-love is the on-going practice of giving love, acceptance, compassion, and appreciation toward yourself. It is valuing your existence and knowing that you are worthy of love and respect.
Since we all have different needs, the way in which we each practice self-care and self-love may differ.
NOTE: self-care and self-love are not selfish acts. They are key components of living a healthy and joyful life.
I have compiled a list of ideas of how one might practice caring and loving for themselves. I’m hoping that there will at least be a few things that you haven’t thought of, or tried before.
Let’s get started...
1. Instead of critiquing and hating on yourself and your body, start acknowledging and thanking it for all that it does for you, every single day. Ex: How lucky are we that we have a working body; the ability to move our arms and legs. To hug loved ones. To go on a hike. To reproduce and create new life. To feel pleasure. To breathe deeply. To watch the sun set or rise. Etc…
*Give it a try: Look in the mirror and lock eyes with yourself. Begin to express gratitude, love, and forgiveness to yourself. I find that speaking out loud has a greater impact than simply doing it in your head. What are a few things that you value and appreciate about yourself?
Take a moment to honour your existence, in whatever way you feel is appropriate.
It’s ok if it feels awkward doing this exercise. With practice, it will become easier and seem less silly.
2. Trust and believe in yourself. Follow your intuition and have faith in your abilities. Know that you can do things on your own.
You are powerful, smart, and totally capable - Sure, it’s great to get support and help from others sometimes, but also know that you are an independent bad ass who can do (almost) anything you put your mind to.
3. Allow yourself to be fully expressed. It’s important to value your own feelings and opinions, and to be confident that what you have to say is worthy of being shared with others.
When we hold things in, our frustration can quickly turn into resentment. It’s important to let your feelings and thoughts out respectfully.
*Give it a try: try journaling everyday for one week. Set aside 15 - 30 minutes daily to reflect and release. See how it feels to regularly express yourself (thoughts, feelings, fears, concerns, and beliefs) and to let go of energy that would normally remain pent-up.
4. Be selective with who you surround yourself with - this includes who you follow on social media!
Make sure that what and who you are exposed to is healthy, genuine, positive, and helpful to your wellbeing. Eliminate relationships with those who bring negativity into your life.
*Give it a try: Go through your “following” list on insta and unfollow anyone who has sketchy vibes, puts others down, or who seems inauthentic. Try following more influencers who share honestly and openly and whose message is positive and inspiring.
Let these positive images and messages flood your newsfeed, rather than photoshopped selfies that perpetuate the idea of unrealistic beauty expectations.
5. “We teach people how to treat us.” - Phillip C. McGraw - Set a good example and create boundaries that support you being treated in a way that is acceptable to you.
Know that boundaries can take many forms. Be creative! What we allow will continue, so speak up and be vocal about what does and does not work for you in your relationships.
*Ex: I no longer get in the car with certain family members, as it typically goes to shit and leaves me upset and in a negative space. Solution? I take my own car.
*Ex: I don’t like being “shushed” and my friend does it enough to bother me. I think it’s rude. So, I asked that she refrains from shushing me and instead points to her ear when she requests that I lower my voice. It’s been working very well for us!
6. Treat yo’self!! Put time aside to take care of yourself. Take yourself on a date every now and then. Pamper yourself. Eat the donut. Take a yoga class. Buy yourself a little something something. Spend time alone. Have a bath. Take a day off work.
You deserve to take a break now and then, and to get the royal treatment. Remember that, babe!
7. Take risks and challenge yourself. You are not meant to live a mediocre or boring life. You are destined for greatness.
This requires stepping outside of your comfort zone, trying new things, and letting your wall down, at times.
“If you want something you’ve never had, you need to do something you’ve never done.” - Thomas Jefferson
8. Drink a shit ton of water and don’t forget to eat throughout the day. It’s important to nourish your body and keep it hydrated.
Eating throughout the day keeps your metabolism on even keel, regulates blood sugar, and helps prevent one from overeating. Water is important for kidney function, regulating bowel movements, and more.
One More Thing
The above suggestions are things that I try to practice myself. I’m still working on learning to respect and fulfil my own needs in healthier ways.
Below is another (mini) list of ways to practice self-care and self-love. These ones may sound more familiar to you.
Here they are:
- Daily affirmations that remind you of your worth, strength and goals.
- Give meditation a try - if you’re a beginner, start with a guided meditation that is no longer than 10 minutes.
- Do something active daily - try expressing yourself through different forms of movement and dance. Don’t be shy to try different beginner classes.
- Incorporate essential oils into your (daily) routine - research has shown that aromatherapy can reduce: stress, anxiety and depression, headaches, muscular aches, and body pains, to improve sleep quality, and to boost immunity and digestion.1
- Develop a morning ritual that energizes you and sets your up for a successful day.
- Expose yourself to positive and uplifting words by reading poetry or quotes. *Check our Rupi Kaur and Nikita Gill
- Clean up your room. Put your clothes away. Organize your desk and closet. Make your bed. And get rid of the shit you no longer need or use! Removing clutter gives you clarity and space to breathe and create something new. “External clutter is intern struggle on display.” - Unknown
- Every morning, start your day with setting intentions and going over your schedule for the day. This creates a positive mindset and structure.
- Put your phone away for at least an hour. Turn it on silent and keep it in another room. Be with yourself.
1 Aromatherapy Uses and Benefits. (2018). Healthline. Retrieve on August 20, 2019 from Link