Practicing self-love is hard! Maybe that’s because we live in a “bigger, better deal” world, and we often look outside of ourselves in search of the very thing we only find within. We’re also inundated with all kinds of recommendations from books, podcasts, etc.
Instead of expecting to achieve 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 straightforward – 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, well-being, 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:
Practice self-love by carving out time for leisure every 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 nothing.
Do whatever you want to do that feels nourishing for your body and soul, and make it happen – today.
It feels so good to focus on your well-being!
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.
Studies have shown that slowing down opens to door to more creativity. And according to Deanna Ritchie of calendar.com, “There’s another advantage to letting your mind drift; it allows you to reflect. While that’s an asset to your creativity and problem-solving, this allows you to become more self-aware. As a result, you’ll be able to increase your emotional intelligence.”
This simple practice will help you create a path to rediscovering and replicating these special times in your daily life. Practice self-care by connecting with your spirit and allowing it to lead.
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 a massage, painting your nails at home, or drawing yourself a luxurious bath surrounded by scented candles.
Enjoy putting your phone away and putting yourself first.
Self-care has never felt better!
If you want to splurge on some luxurious bath soap, consider trying Milk and Honey.
Keep a gratitude journal near your bed and use it daily.
“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. The spark 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 an 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 raises 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 gratitude throughout the day is a critical component of self-love and a habit worth making.
Reduce and cleanse your social media – 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.
People on social media often 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!
It’s good for your mental health. And it shows that you’re prioritizing your self-esteem.
Removing yourself from the hamster wheel of social media allows you to focus on the beauty of the moment that’s perfect exactly as it is.
Eat healthily and mindfully as a self-love practice.
Eating healthily in many ways is a form of self-respect.
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 prepare is healthy and filled with the proper nutrients for your body. Then, sit down and mindfully enjoy eating your meal at your leisure.
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 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.
Remember, exercise is good for your mental health!
Loving ourselves goes hand in hand with creating healthy boundaries.
Overcommitting and being too busy are the primary causes of stress and exhaustion. And these behaviors suggest a lack of self-worth.
Women seem to say “yes” when thinking “no, no, no” inside their heads. You aren’t an unkind, selfish, or rude person for saying no. Instead, learn to set boundaries as a powerful self-love practice.
By saying no to others, you say yes to yourself and free up space to do what you want to do.
Nurture positive emotions by practicing affirmations daily.
Sometimes we need a tiny reminder throughout the day to keep us on track. And you can make positive affirmations work for you with the right attitude and a little optimism!
Affirmations help keep us motivated and remind us that creating a life full of joy and peace is possible.
According to Mara Santilli at Forbes, “Motivational positive affirmations can also help bolster confidence, activating certain areas of the brain associated with reward in order to remind people of their self-worth, according to a study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.”
Read some powerful affirmations here.
Focus on cultivating healthy relationships.
There’s no better self-care tip than surrounding yourself with healthy relationships.
In fact, according to amherst.edu:
“Having supportive relationships has a significant impact on our health and well-being. One of the most apparent findings emerging from research into happiness is that we need close relationships to thrive.
Friends help celebrate the good times and provide support through the bad times. They even help us live longer!”
Making the time to nurture your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues may help you feel more secure and supported.
This doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming – it could be as simple as catching up with an old friend over a cup of coffee, scheduling regular check-ins with family members, or even sending a kind message to someone in your network.
Whatever form it takes, healthy relationships can make all the difference to your self-care routine!
Practice reframing negative thoughts as an act of self-love.
“Every time we have a thought, we make a chemical. If we have good thoughts, we make chemicals that make us feel good. And if we have negative thoughts, we make chemicals that make us feel exactly the way we are thinking.” -Joe Dispenza.
We covered the idea of planting seeds of positivity with affirmations. But what happens when our thoughts are negative?
There are many ways.
In fact, According to the stress and development lab at Harvard University, “Positive reframing involves thinking about a negative or challenging situation in a more positive way. This could involve thinking about a benefit or upside to a negative situation you had not considered. Alternatively, it can involve identifying a lesson to be learned from a difficult situation.”
You can try writing down the thought and then challenging it. You might even question if it’s true. Or, if you find that it is true, you can try seeing it in a new light.
An example might be, “Maybe this situation is here to help me grow. I’m open to learning the lesson I need to learn.”
By reframing your thoughts, you can take control of situations and focus on self-care. And with more self-care, you’ll find it easier to manage stress and live a happier life!
Remember that self-forgiveness is one of the greatest steps to self-love.
One of the most impactful ways to demonstrate self-care is through self-forgiveness. Because let’s face it: we all make mistakes.
And we’re given a choice. Are we going to learn from our mistakes and move forward with clarity? Or will we beat ourselves mercilessly over a mistake made six months ago?
Self-forgiveness is critical to loving ourselves and allowing ourselves to move on from our mistakes.
It’s a practice we can learn to master through practice and dedication.
Why not give it a try? It may do wonders for your mental health and well-being!
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, a part of us needs to feel loved and cared for. For a moment, see yourself as a child deserving of your exquisite care.
How would you want that child to feel at the end of the day? What words would you use to speak kindly to her when she is anxious, tired, or sad?
Try seeing your innocence inside – and prioritize caring for yourself every day in this way.
Remember that practicing self-love takes time, patience, and commitment. It takes effort to develop these self-love 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.
Or are you interested in experiencing a fascinating walking meditation? Learn more about MindTravel here.
And, for a feel-good workout, consider trying Taryn Toomey’s the Class.