People are always talking about self-love and how vital it is not only to our independent happiness but to successful relationships, careers, etc. Yet, most of us were not taught how to love ourselves in school. And even if you were lucky enough to have a supportive guidance counselor or parent who told you to “follow your heart and passions,” mainstream society was likely simultaneously encouraging you to figure out a plan to attack those passions by the time you graduated from high school. There’s a timeline in our culture. Tick tock, do all of the things and don’t dilly dally. While finding your soul purpose is another article for another time, my point is, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the things that we think we should be doing for our careers, bank accounts, family, partners, etc. Instead, we should be prioritizing ourselves first so that we can bring the best version of ourselves to everyone and everything we touch. The catch is, by not working on the things that make us feel great, we don’t feel great. And then we might make other people not feel great. And those people might end up resenting us, making us feel even worse. It’s a cycle, and the energy we put out is often the energy we receive.
However, our hectic lifestyles can become so consuming that sometimes we miss out on taking time for us. So how do we find that balance? And how do we even begin to love ourselves? I do not claim any level of expertise, but there was a time when I nearly hit rock bottom and realized that my defeat was ultimately self-inflicted. Since then, I have been testing out feasible (not extravagant, spontaneous trips to Maui type of self-love) ways to put myself first. Below are a few tried and true, easy things that you can incorporate into your busy lifestyle daily that can help you relish in your awesomeness.
Create a self-recognition list.
Write down at least one thing that you are proud of yourself for doing, each day. Maybe it’s for making it to the gym or for trying a new class or for letting that stressed-out lady cut in front of you in the grocery line. Maybe it’s for smiling at a stranger or making someone laugh. Perhaps it’s for choosing to prep your meals instead of relying on takeout for the week. Maybe you told your boss you wanted a promotion or finally enrolled in a class that will help you advance in your career. Whatever you did that day that makes you feel good inside, write it down. I keep my daily lists in my Notes App on my phone so that I can jot them down whenever, wherever.
Create a grateful list.
Another stellar list to create at the end of the day or first thing when you wake up while reflecting on the day prior is a gratitude list. Write down a few things, people, experiences that you are grateful you have. I like to keep my lists relevant to the previous 24 hours to maintain a consistent reflective, grateful attitude and to stay focused on how much good is continually flowing into my life. Staying in a state of gratitude is a great way to lift your spirits, keep you focused on the positives, and allow more good to flow into your life.
Move stuck energy.
Emotions are energy. Sometimes a buildup of repressed emotions can cause blockages within our bodies that we can feel on a physical level. I highly recommend yoga, although there was a time in my life where this would have been the last thing you found me doing. I wanted results, not to sit around chanting and holding poses. That previous mindset was another person who didn’t understand what mind/body connection meant or how beneficial yoga is for both. These days some of my hardest workouts are in the studio, overcoming mental and physical blocks that I take with me throughout my day.
Find what speaks to you and make it a priority. Physical exercise in any capacity is incredibly beneficial to our wellbeing. Other ways to move stuck energy can be through reflexology, massage, acupuncture, reiki, the list goes on here. Treat yourself whenever you can to new experiences, and you might learn something new about yourself in the process. During my last breakup, I was struggling with excruciating pain in my chest and shoulder blades, and within minutes of visiting my reflexologist she said, “So what man in your life is giving you trouble?” She explained that the right side of my body is the masculine side, hence all the tightness in that shoulder blade, and that my chest pain was the result of a wounded heart chakra. Sometimes it’s just refreshing to have someone who studies how our minds and bodies are connected explain what areas are blocked, and possible reasons why.
Monitor what you are putting into your body.
Ideally, we should be starting and ending our day with greens, limiting sugar and processed foods, and focusing on nourishment from the inside out. If this sounds overwhelming or impractical to you, then show your body love by selecting one part of your diet to adjust. Are you a habitual sugar snacker? Try cutting out any unnatural sugar (fruits, honey & maple syrup OK in moderation). Give it a shot for 21 days. Studies show that our bodies reset every 21 days, which allows change to truly occur when we cut out something or start including something daily. Make your very own 21-day challenge to show your body you love it and want it to thrive. Pay attention to any other foods or substances that are harming you physically or mentally. Our bodies are always talking to us and taking the time to tune in, listen, and make changes or compromises shows it that you love it.
Connect with your inner wisdom.
Take at least a few moments of quiet time each day to connect with inner you. I find that the word ‘meditation’ can be intimidating to some, as it was for me for years. Quiet my crazy mind for an extended period and think about…nothing? That sounded like a lost cause. However, spending a few minutes alone and just focusing on being present, observing your surroundings, and starting to notice thoughts that travel through instead of dwelling on them, can help shift your perspective, pull you out of any chaos of the mind and back into this beautiful moment.
Here are a few ideas to help you connect to that inner voice:
1) Find a place in nature to sit, listen, and observe.
2) Find a guided meditation (YouTube offers a diverse variety of free ones) and spend five minutes or an hour closing your eyes and letting someone else help guide you through visualization exercises.
3) Spend some time journaling. Organizing your thoughts is a powerful way to understand and identify with some of the most important things that often become covered up in the chaos of our minds. Journaling does not need to have any formality. It can be a list of concepts, words, a few random things that struck any emotion from you during your day.
Using whatever tools resonate with you, find a way to connect with your self and intuition. Remember that you can always call on yourself in times of chaos or trouble and look within for your answers. Tune into all the unseen feelings you have. If something doesn’t sit well, there’s a reason. Honoring your inner wisdom is another great way to show yourself some love.