With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I wanted to talk a little bit about love. More specifically, love of you. Companies, schools, doctors, and the media all push the idea of “self-love” without giving much detail on how to practice it. Contrary to what many say, you don't need candles, fancy soaps, or new clothes to practice self-love. What you do need is time, and effort.
Self-love is all about taking care of and valuing yourself. Why should you value yourself? There are so many reasons, but chief among them is simply because you’re awesome! Think of all the things, big and small, that you accomplish on any given day (work, laundry, cooking, caring for children, reading, etc.). When you start to list them, you’ll realize that your mind and body do a lot more each day than you often realize. Because of all this, it’s important to place value on your time and self-care needs. Prioritizing your time can mean setting boundaries, knowing your limits, and allowing yourself time to simply breathe. When you know the extent you can exert yourself without going overboard, you’ll find it easier to build time into your schedule where you can relax and recharge.
Now, valuing your efforts can feel a little bit trickier than valuing your time. We are often quick to tear ourselves down, or minimize success, but slow to give ourselves compassion and self-praise. If you want to begin a cycle of self-love, it is critical to work on reframing your brain to accept your own accomplishments. When you make progress, acknowledge it, and celebrate it. If you face a lapse or setback, allow yourself grace, and take comfort in the idea that you’ll be right back on your feet in no time.
You might be someone who prefers to put others' needs before your own. You may even be happier providing love and actions for those around you. Allow me to explain how self-love is important in your life, too. After a long day, when you’re emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted, the smallest inconvenience can be enough to send you over the edge. When you reach this point, it is nearly impossible for you to help anyone, much less show them the kind of love you would normally want to convey. In short, taking care of yourself is critical if you want to be able to take care of anyone else.
This can be scary. Change is hard, and learning to put your own needs first is foreign to a lot of people. If you find yourself anxious about making changes, I encourage you to read a past post entitled Take the First Step. Perhaps even pair it with a hot cup of cocoa for a little self-love.
Amelia is a student at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. She is majoring in English and is working on growing her freelance writing. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.