It’s that time of year again…Valentine’s Day. You either love it, or you hate it, or couldn’t really give a shit about it. Valentine’s Day is usually a day of focusing on expressing your love and gratitude for your significant other or other significant people in your life – which is nice. But, when do you ever get a chance to focus on what’s really important? YOU! Valentines day is a day for you. A day to love yourself and focus on just how amazing you really are (cringe, I know).
Self-love is not just a concept or hashtag on twitter or Instagram but something that can be expressed in many different ways. It’s about letting go of those negative thoughts and self-criticism and embracing more loving and compassionate thoughts. My line of work supports the idea that our thoughts create our actions and therefore affects how we feel and how we live our lives. Personally, I find it very difficult to allow myself to be loved and more importantly, to give myself love. I find it a very hard thing to accept at times. But sometimes, if you can’t choose to love yourself for whatever reason, it’s just about simply making that decision to not hate yourself.
It seems to be an unspoken rule in today’s society that if we aren’t constantly working hard, taking care of others and putting our needs aside, then we are being selfish. So much so, that the thought of even taking care of yourself and putting yourself first is something that is stigmatised and questioned. But we have to remember that we cannot pour from an empty cup. It is so important to take time out for yourself, otherwise you will be burnt out and have no time (or energy) to help any one else – least of all yourself. After all, taking care of yourself is taking care of others.
Here’s 14 things you can do to express your love to yourself today (and every day after that), and just remember it really is the small things that make a difference:
1. Take Time For Yourself
Sometimes (or mostly), life can be really stressful. We can find ourselves battling between maintaining a good work life, social life and family life, whilst trying to eat well, sleep well, save money etc. so it’s no wonder we can feel exhausted and run down by the stress of it all. With so much to deal with it’s easy to forget to take time for number 1. So how about waking up a little bit earlier to do some yoga, mindfulness, get a massage, deep breathing, guided meditation or whatever will help you to feel grounded and centred for the rest of the day.
2. Take Yourself Out On A Date
Treat yourself and take yourself out. Go see your favourite film, that new exhibition, visit a museum, eat at that new cafe or restaurant you saw on Instagram and have always wanted to go to – just do it! Even though we are alone most of the time (i.e. in the shower, going to bed, travelling to work), taking yourself on a date is a little bit different because you are deliberately taking the time out to take yourself out. If you enjoy being in your own company then this shouldn’t be too difficult but if you don’t then I promise you it’s not as scary as it seems because there are so many other things to focus on other than being alone. There’s also a lot less pressure: you can do what you want and when you want!
3. Cook Your Favourite Meal
Feed your soul with some good food. Take more time this evening to treat yourself and make your favourite meal. Cooking is not only a great way to pass time but it can also be a great opportunity to try something new. If the thought of cooking doesn’t excite you, how about listening to music as you go along or picking out a recipe with your favourite types of food? The other night, I went through the many saved recipes I had ‘saved’ on Instagram and gave one of the recipes a go and I honestly enjoyed taking that time to try something new (and the eating bit was pretty fun too!)
4. Treat Yourself
Buy yourself something nice and don’t feel guilty for it! Whatever it is you’ve been wanting just gift it to yourself. Obviously try not to make it an excuse to buy everythinggggg (after all, we are still a little while away from payday), but often we have little hesitations to spend our money on other people and not really on ourselves.
5. Express Love
Express love to those around you in as many different ways you can. Sometimes expressing love to others really does make you feel good in yourself and the more you give out, the more it builds inside of you and the more you get it back. Also, show your friends, family and those around you that you appreciate them. Be good to them, by being good to yourself so you can give them the best of you. You cannot be ‘too’ loving!
6. Express Gratitude
Being grateful is more than saying ‘thank you’ and being polite to others; the attitude and practice of gratefulness is the act of being generous, courteous and showing concern and appreciation for others. In exchange for expressing gratitude, you are gifted with the calming effect that comes with positive thoughts and strengthened behaviours and relations with others. Each night before you go to bed, try and think of at least 3 things you are grateful for that day. Or, buy yourself a gratitude journal like Kikki K’s Gratitude Journal or the Happiness Planner. Remember to keep things simple and start small. This way it will eventually become a habit and you will begin to notice more things that make you feel grateful everyday.
7. Be Compassionate
In the world we live in can be a real effort to show compassion to other people, let alone ourselves. Research suggests that being compassionate can improve our physical health, emotional wellbeing and as a result it can improve our relationships. Being compassionate is a practice that (like expressing gratitude) will take time. Therefore, it’s best to start small and the best way to learn how to be compassionate towards others is to firstly be compassionate with yourself. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, praise yourself for your successes no matter how small, focus on your strengths and all the positive qualities. Then, being compassionate to others will come naturally and you will begin to better understand human nature. You will also notice yourself feeling a lot more peaceful and a lot less stressed!
8. Pay Someone a Compliment
Spread the love and compliment someone today! The right compliment can create so much positive energy, not just for the person receiving it but also for the person giving it too! I don’t think we give (or receive) compliments enough and I really feel like we should do both a lot more. Don’t keep it to yourself: tell them. Tell your colleague you love their shoes, tell that person on the train you love their coat or whatever. And if you’re lucky enough to receive a compliment: thank them. Really mean it and really try to accept what it is they’ve complimented you for. Allow yourself to be complimented!
9. Digital Detox
Give yourself the joy of the sheer and utter peace and quiet. No phones, no social media, no distractions. Have a read of my previous blog post ‘Detox, De-Clutter and Determine Your Life‘ to find out how!
10. Get Sexy
Treat yourself to new underwear. I promise you it’s an amazing way to feel sexier and confident. Whatever you decide to do afterwards is none of my business but I know personally I feel 100% more confident and motivated at work or going to the shops when I have a good set of underwear on – and the best part is no one would have a clue! My personal favourite place to shop has to be from ‘Boux Avenue‘. Treat yourself!
11. Dress Up
Dress yourself up in something nice. Wear the things that make you feel happy, confident and at your best! But most importantly, dress up for yourself. Don’t dress to attract a mate or to impress your friends or peer group; wear things that you like and things that make you happy. That way, you also wear an extra layer of confidence that no one else can take away from you and I promise you that’s a lot more attractive than any new jacket or new pair of shoes will be!
12. Have Your Cake (and eat it too)
Treat yourself. Allow yourself to have that piece of chocolate, cake, whatever your sweet tooth desires and savour every minute of it!
13. Get Sweaty
However you choose to get your heart rate today, get sweaty! Work it out, go for a run, twerk, dance – whatever gets you hot and bothered! Sweating has a number of benefits like: strengthening our immune system, giving us healthy-looking skin, flush out your body toxins and boosts your endorphins!
14. Rest Well
Have a good night’s sleep. Sleeping well directly affects your physical and mental health. The idea of getting 8 hours sleep is an absolute myth because our bodies our all different and require different amount of sleep. Sometimes we can get 8 hours of sleep or more and still not feel refreshed. What we can all benefit from though is a good, quality night’s sleep. The preparation begins in the day – try to stay active, no napping and limit your alcohol, caffeine and nicotine intake especially just before bed. Then at night, swap the TV for a book and avoid bright lights! Put extra care into your bedtime routine (or lack of) by making those small changes.