Valentine’s Day is a great reminder to show love to the important people in your life – and one of those people should be yourself!
Day-to-day it can be easy to focus on the relationships with those immediately around you and significant people in your life, but how often do you stop to think about how you’re treating yourself?
We can often assume that focusing on ourselves or doing something ‘just for me’ is selfish, unnecessary or a waste of time. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth!
As Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project notes,
“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”
The love and happiness you cultivate in relationships relies heavily on how you treat yourself, and whether your own well-being is an important part of your life. If you feel criticised, irritated or worn out, you’re unlikely to be, or even behave, compassionately with those closest to you.
Similarly, Rubin also highlights that:
“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”
Just as you wouldn’t show your friends and family love and kindness sporadically and expect them to feel valued, you need to take the same approach to caring for yourself.
It’s not enough to schedule in a ‘self care’ activity once every couple of weeks or months and expect to see the benefit. It needs to be a regular practice, on a daily or weekly basis, for it to become a habit.
If you lead a busy life with work, family, different hobbies or projects then it can be easy to forget about creating time for yourself, but this is important for your general well-being, happiness, and health.
If you’re struggling to get started with ‘self love’, ‘self care’ or just making regular time for yourself, here are a few of my top tips.
CHECK HOW YOU TALK TO YOURSELF
This is one of the easiest things to neglect, but one of the biggest changes you can make.
Over the course of a day, observe how you talk to yourself. If you’re being judgemental, cruel or dismissive towards yourself, you could be sabotaging feelings of self-worth without even realising it.
Notice when you feel negative thoughts about yourself – and stop them in their tracks by asking whether you would talk to a close friend this way.
You deserve the same kindness you show to friends and family; and this starts with how you talk to yourself.
CURATE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
If you feel drained by social media, start curating a feed that makes you feel positive about yourself as well as motivated, informed and entertained.
Social media can be a great tool for connecting with people, but it can create unrealistic examples of life based on people’s highlight reel. Even if you don’t immediately recognise the impact of social media on your mental health, it’s worth evaluating your relationship with the online world.
Avoid solely following ‘inspirational’ accounts that make you feel like you’re not enough, or that you don’t have enough to offer. Try and mix up your feed with lots of different types of people, talking about different things that you’re interested in.
It’s important to remember that you have control over the content you consume on social media, so make sure it’s good for you. Only follow people who make you feel good about who you are and encourage you to be the best version of yourself.
SCHEDULE TIME IN (AND STICK TO IT)
If you struggle to find the time or regularly make excuses to avoid doing things just for yourself, be firm and plan it in your calendar.
Start saying no to other tasks that try to interfere with this time. If you need a reason to justify it, then remember you are making your well-being a priority.
FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
Some people need time alone, others need quality time with friends to feel relaxed and recharged.
Instead of trying (and failing) to commit to what you think should be good for you, identify what truly makes you feel happy and calm, without unnecessary pressure or worry.
It could be anything from exercising and yoga, to reading and painting. It might be going to a dance class or taking a long bath. It could be playing music, walking the dog or sitting on the beach. You could try writing or cooking a new recipe.
Whatever it is, embrace it and make this a regular feature in your life.
CHOOSE THE BEST TIME
Learning how to treat yourself with love and creating the space to relax can sometimes feel a bit like a chore… even when you know it’s good for you.
Don’t try ‘squeezing’ self-care in during a time when your schedule is jam-packed and you’re likely to abandon it, or feel stressed about another responsibility.
Just as you need to find what works for you, you need to consider when works for you. Although including self-care in your routine might start as a task, choosing a time that’s easier to stick to will help make it a habit.
Learning how to love and look after yourself is a process, and often a daily one. But it’s a worthwhile challenge. Ultimately, you have to spend every day of your life with yourself, so you may as well invest a bit of time, effort and attention into making your physical ‘home’ a happy one!