Well, it’s that time of year again…
The day we’re supposed to be showing our love for our partners or spouses and showering them with gifts (if we have one!) Everyone starts thinking about the ‘L’ word – whether you’re in love, fallen out of love, or single and looking for love. And you can’t avoid it every time you go shopping – retailers won’t let you! What I’d like to encourage you to focus on this month, however, is self-love and showing yourself some well deserved self-care.
As Brits in general we often struggle with the idea of ‘loving ourselves’, viewing it as some kind of vanity or somehow a bit cheesy. But it’s incredibly important to create and regularly nurture feelings of self-worth in order to maintain healthy self-esteem and feelings of being valuable and worthy – which we all are! Why? Because when you hold yourself in high esteem, you’re more likely to make better choices and choose things that nurture your wellbeing and serve you well – whether that’s exercising to keep your body healthy, eating wholesome nourishing foods, or having healthy boundaries in your relationships. When our self-esteem is low or lacking we don’t tend to take good care of ourselves.
We are also usually more inclined to put everyone else in our lives and their needs before our own – be it friends, family, or even work colleagues and bosses. If we don’t look after ourselves though, there comes a point in all our lives where our cup runs dry and we have nothing left to give to others. This, of course, benefits no one and can leave you burnt out, depressed, and resentful. So looking after and caring for yourself is actually crucial not just for your own self-worth and esteem, but is also key if you want to be able to love, help, and support those around you.
There are endless ways you can practice self-care and show yourself a little love.
Here are 10 of my favourite ways to do this:
1. Sit and make a list of all your achievements to date – from losing weight, to getting a promotion, or becoming a Mother. The easiest way to do this is take a piece of paper and draw a timeline, then start filling it in chronologically – from younger you through to present day. Tip: you can always leave space further along from now to brainstorm things you’d like to achieve in future.
2. Go for a walk in nature – preferably in one of your favourite places where there’s some beautiful scenery or somewhere that holds happy memories for you. Walking is a great way to change your state on all fronts – mentally, physically, and emotionally – and getting outside in the fresh air and daylight is incredibly good for you. You could do this on your own, with your dog, or maybe even join a walking club as a way to make new friends in the process! If you’re not a fan of walking, any form of exercise or physical activity you enjoy would also be a great form of self-care.
3. Take a relaxing bath with your favourite bath salts or essential oils (lavender oil in your bath is wonderful before bedtime). If you’re into crystals, placing a piece of rose quartz in your bath water is a lovely way to practice self-love at the same time. Don’t just sit in your bathroom silently with the lights on though – light some candles, take a cup of tea with you, and play some relaxing music to really make a special treat of your bath. Tip: don’t forget to use your favourite body lotion or oil afterwards and pop on some fresh pyjamas and cosy slippers!
4. Book yourself a healing treatment to rebalance and restore your energy. My favourites are reiki healing which I practice regularly, and the more gentle crystal therapy (more information on both here), and I try to have a treatment at least every few months. It’s so important to look after your energetic system and chakras, not just your physical body and mind.
5. Block out some time to do something creative that you enjoy – ideally something you loved to do as a child. This could be anything from painting to knitting, scrap boarding or papier mache! One of my friends loves making pom poms with cardboard circles and wool like we used to as kids, and I’m a bit of a geek – I love doing jigsaws! There are so many things we stop doing as we grow up, but there is no reason we shouldn’t still ‘play’ as we did when we were younger. Have some fun!
6. Take a piece of paper and make a list of your strengths and positive qualities. Listing all the things you’re good at is a great way to flip your mood and start appreciating yourself. You can include anything from ‘I’m always there for my friends’, or ‘I’m really good at my job’, to ‘I’m a great cook!’ Don’t stop until you’ve filled at least two sides, and re-read the list any time you start feeling down about yourself.
7. Put one of your favourite albums on and play it from start to finish – the way we used to listen to albums, and really savour and enjoy every song. Singing along is also a great way to lift your mood, or if it’s an upbeat album why not have a good old dance around the living room?!
8. Treat yourself to a spa treatment, such as a massage or pedicure. Or you can do your own home pampering session for far less cost. I like to deep cleanse my skin before popping on a face mask, soaking my feet in some hot water with peppermint oil and epsom salts, and then doing my nails. Tip: don’t forget to pop on a good film or boxset you love at the same time, and light some candles or diffuse some essential oils.
9. Put your feet up with a cup of tea and a good book. Reading is such a great way to take us out of ourselves and all our day to day cares and concerns – you really can lose yourself in a good book, it’s the ultimate escapism! You could do this at home, visit the library, or find a corner in your favourite local coffee shop.
10. Make some time to meditate or practice yoga, or even go to a group meditation or yoga class. Meditation helps to slow your internal chatter, still your mind, and calm your inner world, and is a vital form of self-care. If you don’t enjoy sitting still and being quiet to meditate, you could get outside and practice walking meditation, or go to a gong meditation or sound bath. Tip: there are also plenty of apps you could try – I particularly like Insight Timer and use it for at least 10-15 minutes every day.
So whether you’re spending Valentines with a loved one, or whether you’re not, don’t forget to practice loving and looking after yourself this month. These are just a few ideas you can use to start making self-care a regular habit all year round, there are literally hundreds of others. The main thing is to do something you love – for yourself and no one else – that fills you with joy and makes you feel good.
For plenty more ideas on ways to practice self-care and look after yourself this February, my book recommendation for the month is The Little Book of Self Care by Mel Noakes.