February is the month of love and although, according to the stores and Hallmark channel, that means finding the man or woman of your dreams, true love starts with one very important person:
That’s right. Whether you are in a place in your life when you’re looking for love, whether you are overwhelmed with the love of little hands from your kids, or even if you are trying to give more love to the people you already have in your life, loving others starting with loving yourself. And I know what you’re thinking–you’re rolling your eyes about the concept of “self-love” because you think it involves doing something frivolous like taking a bubble bath or indulging in a manicure. But the truth is, self-love is anything but selfish. Self-love can sometimes be very hard and real work. So in this month of love, take some time to dig in, do the work, and love yourself so that you can be the best version of yourself to love others too. Here are some (totally not frivolous) ways to love yourself this month:
Change your self-talk
At the risk of sounding too cheesy on you, we need to have a serious talk about your self-talk. Think about the inner voice that is inside your head all day long. Is it saying things like, “You’re so fat?” or “You’re pathetic?” What about things like, “You’re such a screw-up, you’ll never actually do that”?
Consider how you would treat someone who talked that way to your best friend. You wouldn’t tolerate it for a second, right? So why in the world do we allow that kind of self-talk in ourselves? Pay attention to the little voice in your head; write it down if you have to, but really take the time to listen to that voice, because after all, it’s the most influential voice in your life.
Make a vision board
I am not a crafter. I’m not the type of woman who finds things like scrapbooking or DIY crafts fun or relaxing. (Although I will say coloring with the preschooler is kind of nice…) But I am a believer in being intentional about the kind of life you want and that starts with actually visualizing it first. How can you know what you want out of life if you’re too afraid to actually speak it out loud or write it down? Vision boards can be a fun way to decompress and let your subconscious guide you to the type of images, words, and phrases that spark something inside of you.
Talk to someone
Today, there are so many options for talking to a professional about any issues you may having in your life. There are online apps, websites, hotlines, even therapy-by-text that you can utilize to talk through a tough spot in your life. And seeking professional help, whether it be from a therapist or even a life coach, doesn’t have to be a signal that you have a mental illness. Instead, think of it as a mental health tune-up. I mean, think about it: we get our car checked regularly, we get our physical bodies checked every year, heck, we probably even clean our fridges out more often than we check in with our mental selves. Finding a professional to help us assess where we are and evaluate where we need to go from here can be a loving gift to ourselves. And as a side note, if you are in a place where getting help truly feels like too much, ask a friend or a loved one to help you find a phone number or other resource. Love yourself enough to know when to ask for help.
Take a “me” day
Last year, my daughter, who was in first grade at the time, came to me in the middle of the school year and asked me if she could stay home.
“Mom, I just need a day off,” she sighed. “I’m so tired.”
I let her stay home from school the next day and she took full advantage of her day off, spending the day in her pajamas, reading a book, coloring, and even watching a movie with me later. We joke to this day about her “me” days because every now and then, she’s just in need of a day off. Seeing her be in tune with herself to know when she needed a time-out from life was such an important reminder to me that the wisdom of kids can teach us so much. We’re all in need of a little “me time” now and then, aren’t we? As adults, we’re so quick to keep pressing on through exhaustion and responsibilities, but the world will not stop spinning if we stop for a day off to nap in our pajamas and read a good book.
Move your body in a new way
Moving your body doesn’t have to be all about exercise or punishment or a way to control what you look like. Moving your body can be a powerful form of loving yourself by giving it permission to do what it was designed to do: be active. If you’re a die-hard runner, consider mixing things up with a yoga class. If you’re a yogi only, try a weightlifting class with a friend. Or if you’re a gym rat, try taking your workout outside and go for a refreshing hike. It’s all about surprising your body and ultimately, yourself. Just think of it as a date for your #1.