There is a lot of talk about self-love these days, but also a lot of confusion as to what it actually is and how to do it. Do you have to suddenly become the kind of person that writes herself a weekly love letter and spends the weekend pampering herself with bubble baths and solo brunches?
No, not at all. Self-love doesn’t have to have anything to do with bubble baths and gifts for yourself, although for some people those things are definitely on their list of self-love activities and treats.
The key is to get to know yourself and what you need to feel loved, special and cared for.
And then to give that to yourself.
Loving yourself is about treating yourself the way you wish a romantic partner to treat you, whether you have a romantic partner right now or not.
It’s about being there for yourself in a kind, loving and compassionate way. It’s about accepting yourself fully and all of your imperfections. It’s about listening in to what you need and making sure that you are meeting those needs. It’s about making sure your deepest desires, thoughts, fears and dreams are being listened to…by you.
Ultimately it’s about cultivating a loving and connected relationship with yourself.
So how do you do that?
By breaking it down into practical steps and actions.
Because self-love, just like love, is a practice. It is something that you DO.
The big myth that gets us all tangled up in modern society, is that love is something that you can only receive from another. And in particular one special romantic partner.
This confused understanding of love is preventing many people from recognising that THEY are the ones that have the power to make themselves feel fully loved and cared for.
Because love isn’t something that you must wait to be given by one other special person in life. It is something that you cultivate. It is something that you have the power to give to yourself. And when you start to use that power and fill yourself up with love, everything changes, from the inside out.
Because self-love in action is about putting your wellbeing and happiness as a top priority in life, designing a life that you love, doing meaningful and fulfilling work, nourishing yourself and surrounding yourself with people that nourish you and clearing the blocks to love so that it can flow fully into your life on a day to day basis – through your relationships, your actions and the choices that you make.
So how do you do it?
Well let’s look at seven simple ways to get you started on your self-love journey:
Daily acts of love
Daily acts of love can be really simple, from making sure you have a nutritious breakfast and taking the time to sit and eat it, rather than shovelling it in while getting ready for work. Or making yourself a nourishing smoothie, or going for a morning run or fun exercise class. Try out a new recipe for dinner, or listen to an uplifting podcast on the way to work.
Write to yourself
This can be a really powerful one. Write yourself a letter from eighty year old self. You have become deeply fulfilled in your life and ended up living the life you dreamed of, doing work that you loved and you lived in a way that made you truly content. Your older self knows that everything works out well for you in the end and right now they want to give you some encouragement, knowing the challenges and desires you have at this time in your life. Write what you think your wise older self might want to say to you, advice, love and support. Once you’ve written the letter, pop it in the post and you’ll receive a letter of encouragement a few days later to light up your day.
Make yourself breakfast in bed, or a pamper night while watching your favourite rom com. Do your nails, or even better, have them done. Start reading a new book, or spend an evening listening to your favourite music. Or how about a pyjamas and trashy mags night?
Take yourself on a date
Take yourself out somewhere special, to an exhibit, or a re-release of your all time favourite film. Perhaps there is a restaurant or popup you have been waiting to find someone to go with? Take yourself and savour the experience. It could be simply taking yourself to somewhere that really inspires you, out in nature or a particular landmark that you find interesting. Or how about spending an afternoon photographing some of your favourite things or places?
Check in with yourself
You could put a post it note on your bathroom mirror asking ‘What do you need today’, or set a reminder on your phone each day asking what it is you need, it could be that you need to step outside the office for five minutes and clear your head, or make a quick plan to do something just for you that evening, even if it means cancelling an event or social engagement.
Buy yourself a small gift, or a box of dark chocolates. Have a luxurious nap, or an extra long Sunday lie in. Borrow someone’s dog for the day, learn to roller skate or hula hoop, something that really makes you smile. Take yourself for a cup of coffee or tea and cake, and watch the world go by.
Start and end your day with love
Bookend your day with mini self love rituals – This could be as simple taking 5-10 mins reading a few pages of a book or journalling, or watching an inspiring TEDTalk while eating a healthy breakfast and then a little five minute routine when you get home from work like doing some yoga stretches to get rid of the days tension, or dancing round to a song on the radio while waiting for your dinner to cook. And if you have even less time, you could spend a minute thinking about all the things you are grateful for when lying in bed (this is lovely a one to do).
It’s always important to keep things simple and not to overcommit. So choose ONE thing from this list that you are going to start doing this week. Then get it in your diary – book in a date and time that you’re going to do it this week – and feel the love grow.
If you would like to learn more about Self Love for Busy Women, download our free podcast now.
Selina and Vicki xx