Practicing self-love is hard! Maybe that’s because we live in a “bigger, better deal” world, and we’re often looking outside of ourselves in search of the very thing that we only find within. We’re also inundated with all kinds of recommendations from books, podcasts, etc. Instead of expecting to be achieving 100 out of 100 self-love tasks per day, it might be helpful to think of building a practice of self-love into our days as a lifelong process. It’s cultivation that takes time, devotion, and discipline. (Am I an expert on this? NO! I have days that this seems easy – and others that it feels impossible to build in these steps. But when I do – I feel pretty great.)
Sometimes we may even avoid ourselves at different times and need to feel that slight shift to open up to loving ourselves more. A new perspective can give us the grounding we need to deepen our self-love practice.
One of my favorite teachers, Byron Katie, says, “Do you want to meet the love of your life? Look in the mirror.” That may feel uncomfortable, but it’s true when you think about it. All of the love we feel comes from within our hearts, so we need to take the time to nurture and care for our tender hearts properly. When we balance and feel that loving openness within, we can radiate love, wellbeing, and happiness to those around us.
Oscar Wilde once said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
So how do we start that romance? How do we learn to love ourselves? Here are eight practices to ease us more into the mode of caring for ourselves- mind, body, and spirit, so that we can begin to flourish in all areas of our lives:
1. Carve out time for leisure – every single day.
Shrug off the never-ending expectation to continually be connected. Challenge yourself to think about how you can carve out time in your day to do the things that make you feel good. You can take 20 minutes to read a chapter of your favorite book with a cup of hot tea, take a long walk, or do absolutely nothing at all. Do whatever you want to do that feels nourishing for your body and soul, and make it happen – today.
2. Daydream, open your mind, and welcome in the happiest version of yourself.
Taking the time to explore our spirits is a deeply self-loving practice. You can do this by taking a moment to stop, meditate, and even daydream of the days you felt most beautiful and happy. Focus on why you felt that way in those moments. This simple practice will help you create a path to rediscovering and replicating these special times in your daily life. Connect with your spirit and allow it to lead.
3. Pamper yourself as a form of self-love.
You might think this is superficial, but it’s crucial to our self-esteem—so many ways to get started. Consider booking yourself a massage, painting your nails at home, or taking the time to draw yourself a luxurious bath surrounded by scented candles. Enjoy putting your phone away and putting yourself first.
If you want to splurge on some luxurious bath soap, consider trying Milk and Honey.
4. Keep a gratitude journal near your bed and use it every day.
“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.” – Amy Collette
We all love to make lists to keep track of what we need to do, but it’s also therapeutic to notice what we have in our life right now. Try keeping a journal by your bed, and note the things you feel lucky to have. Jot down everything from your comfortable, cozy bed to feeling grateful for that friend who called and brightened your day.
Making the effort to build this into your life as a practice is worth the effort. Maybe set a reminder on your phone to go off every 2-3 hours and take 20 seconds to think of what you feel grateful for at that moment. Gratitude has a way of raising our vibration to the highest level, attracting even more things to be thankful for. Consciously feeling grateful and writing things down in the morning and night is good, but feeling the emotion of gratitude throughout the day is a key component of self-love and a habit worth making.
5. Reduce and cleanse your social media – a self-love must.
Whenever you start to feel anxious while on Instagram, Facebook, or whatever social media feed you find yourself on, disconnect from it. Make sure you only follow people who bring you joy, lift your spirit, and inspire you. Anyone else, unfollow.
Most often, people on social media only report on their success, so it can be tricky when you’re comparing your entire life to everyone’s feeds. Take the time to break away from social media, and allow yourself to focus on the beauty of the moment; that’s perfect as it is.
6. Eat healthily and mindfully as a self-love practice.
When you can take the time to cook something delicious for yourself, think of how you are lovingly caring for your body – that has been so good to you. Be sure that whatever you are preparing is healthy and filled with the nutrients that are right for your body. Then, sit down and mindfully enjoy eating your meal at your leisure.
7. Move your body as a practice of self-love.
Exercise improves our moods by releasing endorphins. As part of your self-love routine, choose something that you enjoy to feel you aren’t forcing or punishing yourself. Consider yoga, walking your dog, or dancing around the house like J.Lo! It doesn’t matter. Just move your body to care for your body, mind, and spirit.
8. Loving ourselves goes hand in hand with creating healthy boundaries.
Overcommitting and being too busy are primary causes of stress and exhaustion. You are not an unkind, selfish, or rude person for saying no. Women especially seem to yell out “yes” when thinking “no, no, no” inside our heads. By saying no to others, you say yes to yourself and free up space to do what you want to do.
Bonus: Care for yourself as a mother would care for her child. Mother yourself.
Our days are filled with so much pressure to manage this and that. Yet, inside there is a part of us that needs to feel loved and cared for. For a moment see yourself as a child that you enjoy taking exquisite care of. How would you want that child to feel at the end of the day? What kind of words would you use to speak kindly to her when she is anxious, tired, or sad?
Try seeing the innocence inside – and prioritize caring for yourself every day in this way.
Remember that practicing self-love takes time, patience, and a level of commitment. It may take some effort to lean into building these loving and caring habits into your daily routine, but it’s worth it every time.
“It shows, you know. That you’re glowing from the inside and out. That love you have for yourself and your life adds a beautiful spark in your eyes.” -angelica moone.
I hope these tips and practices serve you as we move through this season together.
(This post was originally published on February 4th, 2021, and has been updated for more thoroughness.)
For another powerful self-love tool, consider writing morning pages.
And, for a feel-good workout, consider trying Taryn Toomey’s the Class.