Between morning routines, afternoon homework help, and evening bath time, it’s often easy to get caught up in caring for our families while neglecting a practice that is essential to our own mental health: self-love.
You might wake up with to-do lists in your head; ask yourself – how often do you see “take ‘me’ time” on that list? Taking care of yourself helps you take care of those important to you. The saying “you cannot pour out of an empty glass” is a truth, is it not? Self-love and care are how you refill to continue caring for others.
How Can We Love Ourselves?
Self-love is expressed and viewed differently by everyone. It can be cooking or baking for pleasure, eating your favorite meal, taking a long bath, singing out loud, playing a round of golf, snuggling up with your pet, attending a concert, or even stating an affirmation out loud. Self-love can be as much or as little as you want; if it’s focused on your wellbeing, it assists with rejuvenating your energy.
Here are some concrete examples of self-love you can try today:
- Words of self-compassion These are statements we use to boost ourselves when having a hard time. These statements are positive and reassuring, and they acknowledge the effort you are making towards restorative action. Here are some examples of self-compassionate statements:“I am having difficulty obtaining the answer, but I know that with time, I can figure it out.”“I have a lot of feelings and thoughts right now, and it’s ok that I do.”Using phrases framed with positivity and realism is an important way to speak of and to yourself, which can be helpful in boosting feelings of self-worth.
- Notes of encouragement Using guidance from the words of self-compassion, write notes of encouragement and hide them in places you are likely to find them later on. Think: different pockets, your wallet, the pages of a book, inside shoes, in your work desk – both places you check regularly and places you don’t go often. You may even add a few in your cell phone as reminders that go off at different points of the day or every few days.Having these messages of positivity pop up unexpectedly will keep you feeling encouraged and motivated. You might find one at a time you are feeling low or when you need a change to a challenging day.
- Walk in the sun Take a walk outside during the sunniest portion of the day. Sunlight has been said to be a stress reliever and a mood enhancer; being in the sun boosts our serotonin levels naturally, improving our mood.
- Independent exploration Is there an area of interest that you have wanted to explore? Have you been putting it off? Take the time for yourself, explore that interest, take that class, and learn that new topic. You will feel fulfilled that you completed something that you previously put off.
- Activity purge Evaluate your daily life: is there something you engage in that doesn’t serve you? Do you have automatic negative thoughts that are attached to this action? Is it something you can let go? Self-assessments such as this are helpful in clearing out the unnecessary stuff that’s weighing you down. Decreasing or minimizing these activities is another way to improve your ability to take care of yourself, contributing to your self-love. Consciously engaging in self-love will help you feel more energized, motivated, and in tune with your experiences and needs. Self-love builds you up from the inside, it’s your strongest foundation. This February – and always – remember to take care of yourself just as much as you take care of others.
If you or a family member needs behavioral and/or mental health treatment, but aren’t sure where to start, read more here or call 888-764-4161. We’re here to support!
By Ciandra St. Kitts, LCSW
Ciandra St. Kitts is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) with over 15 years’ experience working with children, adolescents, and their families in a wide range of therapeutic settings. She specializes in helping people dealing with anxiety, trauma, death and the associated grieving process, depression, stress management and teen pregnancy/parenting. Through a strengths-based and solutions-focused lens, she draws on a multitude of treatment modalities in order to provide her patients with the most appropriate care. Ciandra provides teletherapy in New York and Pennsylvania. Learn more at pmbehavioralhealth.com