Love is in the air! It’s that time when many people make plans to demonstrate their feelings of love to others. Some are romantic gestures and others are actions to express appreciation to loved ones for being a meaningful part of their lives. The month of February can also be a trying period for many when they realize that some of their deepest needs for love and companionship are not being met; and a sense of sadness can set in.
As social beings, we thrive on sharing time with one another; and it is understandable if there’s a feeling of emptiness when we cannot express our love to others in a satisfactory way. Sometimes we look to others to feel good about ourselves, but doing so sets us up for disappointment and hurt feelings. No-one, no matter how loving they are, is able to make us feel good all the time. However, that does not doom us to frustration and unhappiness. All it means is that we need to find ways to feel loved and loving regardless of what is happening around us. In this week’s blog, I want to share five ways in which we can practice self love so that we have control over how we feel and how we demonstrate love to the people in our lives.
1. Eat well. This may not seem like a way to practice self love at first glance, but think about it carefully. When you take the time to put healthy foods in your body, you prove to yourself that your physical well-being is important; and taking care of your body leads to improved mental and emotional function. Consider how you’d feel if you went through a day without eating or eating only junk foods. You would probably not have enough energy to take care of your children or your brain would not have enough nutrients to help you make wise and intelligent decisions. Relating to others would be less effective simply because you’d have very little energy and patience to deal with them. So when you eat well, your body gets nourished; your brain functions better; your patience increases; and instead of feeling moody and lethargic, you’re better able to express love and appreciation to those around you.
2. Rest well. This seems the opposite of what the superwoman mentality that you may have wants you to believe. With your busy life, you are often strapped for time to get enough rest. However, resting well is one of the best ways you can practice self love. I know that when I try to live on less than the amount of sleep that my body needs, the immediate feeling is a massive headache. My brain seems to go to sleep; my concentration lags, and I move slower. Sleeping well is important in practicing self love. If you accept that you cannot be all things to everyone and you will not be able to help others effectively while disregarding your own health, then sleeping well will become important to you. Get the amount of sleep your body is asking for and see the difference that makes in how much love and appreciation you feel toward yourself.
3. Engage in a hobby or find another way to relax. Did you just say, “Yeah, right!”? The thought of using your already limited time to paint, play a board game or go ice-skating probably fills you with anxiety, because your to-do list will not get done. However, imagine how differently you will feel after an hour of relaxation in whatever way you choose. You give your brain some much needed rest; you relax physically, and you get the time to re-connect to your inner desires and abilities that go beyond taking care of others and feeling rushed and unfulfilled about living. You feel much stronger and you remember to connect to the real you often. Nourishing your inner being is an essential way of showing self love, and participating in a hobby or a relaxing event can certainly do that.
4. Spend time with people who lift your spirits. I know it’s not always easy to do this; but it’s important that when you have a choice about who to spend your time with, you choose company that you enjoy: people who make you laugh; those whose views about life complement and strengthen yours; others who appreciate you for who you are rather than how you can be an asset to them; and individuals who make you feel, after your time with them, that it was really beautiful to have spent the time together.
Sometimes you may have to firmly excuse yourself from situations and people who are negative; and other times you will need to stop yourself from behaving in a negative manner. For others to appreciate the beauty that is you, you need to cultivate your beauty; and getting rid of negativity is a great way to attract like-minded people to you and repel negative ones from you.
5. Practice introspection. One of the keys to self awareness is to practice introspection. You are the expert on you, so spend time reflecting on what makes you happy, what pushes your buttons, how you relate to others and where improvements can be made to your life. When you look for the meaning in the situations you face rather than react in fear or desperation, you harness your internal strength to create your life just as you want it. Taking these actions releases others of the responsibility to live to please you. You know where you are going and the steps you need to take to get there; and you also choose who you’d like to accompany you on the journey.
With physical strength from eating and resting well; practicing a hobby and deliberately choosing who you spend time with, you will realize that you’re well on your way to not only loving yourself but also enjoying your life.
I trust that you will take the time to love yourself first so that you show up in the world as the best version of who you are up to this point.
Have a great week and a wonderful Valentine’s Day if you celebrate it.