Love is in the air. Valentine’s Day is here and we’ve got love on our minds. We purchase special gifts, go out for dinner, or do something that demonstrates our deep affection for our loved ones. This February 14th, while you acknowledge all the people you love, include yourself in that equation. Think about it. Do you have affection for yourself? Do you appreciate yourself? If not, it’s time to turn up the heat in the relationship you’ll have until the end of the time: the one with yourself.
When we learn to practice self-love every day, it’s amazing how our lives transform. Self-love isn’t simply a state of feeling good and it’s not a one-time occurrence. Self-love is a dynamic state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological, and spiritual wellness. When we act in self-caring ways, we begin to accept our weaknesses as well as our strengths, we have compassion for ourselves, and we’re more centered our life’s purpose. There’s only one thing that heals every problem, and that is to know how to love ourselves.
How can you bring more self-love into your life? Any good relationship requires attention and needs to be nurtured over time, and the relationship with yourself is no different. Try these simple strategies to foster a deep appreciation for the wonderful, unique person you are:
- Forgive yourself. The downside of taking responsibility for our actions is punishing ourselves too much for mistakes we make along the way. There’s a tendency in all of us to hold ourselves more accountable than we do others. Accept your humanness and your imperfections. Take the present moments you have now and use them in joy and love, not in anguishing over what you should or shouldn’t have done. Forgiving yourself is every bit as important as forgiving others.
- Understand that failures, mistakes, and set-backs offer valuable lessons. Look for the opportunities to grow professionally and personally from your past and be mindful going forward of how to use these lessons.
- Get into the gratitude habit. Reap the benefits of gratitude by noticing new things to be thankful for each day. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to chronicle all of the positives in your life, no matter whether they’re big or small. Reviewing your journal entries can also serve as a powerful mood enhancer anytime you’re feeling low.
- Practice acceptance. If comparing yourself to others is how you evaluate your worth, you’ll always be losing in this game of life. You can never reach a point where you’re better than others in every way, and why would you want to be? Instead, focus your energy on being the very best version of yourself.
- Learn to set boundaries. You’ll love yourself more when you set limits or say no to things that deplete you physically, emotionally and spiritually. One of the most courageous elements of self-love is valuing your time, energy and how much of yourself you are giving to others. That doesn’t mean you can’t still be kind and giving. In fact, by adding parameters to your time and energy, you’ll probably be more valuable to those who mean the most to you.
Practicing self-love may be even more important in the winter. Cold temperatures, shorter days, and less sunlight can put a damper on our moods, so it’s wise to make a deliberate effort to practice self-care rituals at this time of the year. Exercise improves our outlook and helps regulate chemicals in the brain, so why not take a brisk walk and enjoy nature’s beauty? And because Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with seasonal depression, it’s important to spend time in the sunshine on those warmer winter days.
This Valentine’s Day, find new ways to love and nourish yourself. Make self-care a daily habit for your continued happiness, well-being, and success.