What is self love & why is it important?
Self love & care encompass the actions, thoughts, & practices of taking care of our physical, mental, & emotional being. Without this we would fall apart. It is about making intentional choices to meet our basic, physical, mental, & emotional needs.
We recognize that without taking care of our own needs, we can’t possibly take care of the needs of others.
If you have been on an airplane & listened to the safety talk at the beginning of the flight, what does the flight attendant say about the oxygen mask? Whose oxygen mask do you put on first? Yours… You put on your oxygen mask first because if you don’t have oxygen, you can’t possibly help others put on their oxygen masks.
Self love is like oxygen…if we don’t take care of ourselves, then little by little, we deplete our capacity to help others meet their needs. Self love & compassion should be an intentional part of our every-day lives.
Whilst there are many tools for self love, in my own personal journey I quickly learned that it is critical to first look at general lifestyle factors to promote optimal health.
NUTRITION AND FOOD as we are what we eat & the food we eat affects the structure & function of our brain & therefore ultimately our moods.
ADEQUATE SLEEP is very important as sleep is a time when essential functions of the body take place. I now make sure I get my 7 hours sleep per night!
EXERCISE is not only crucial for maintaining a healthy weight, but there are numerous other benefits of exercise as well. My personal favourites that have shown many shifts in my mental & physical health are yoga, walking & running!
MANAGING STRESS is extremely important as it is rampant in today’s society and is said to be a silent killer. For me, making changes in all of the above areas have improved my stress management as well as applying some simple techniques for emotional resilience.
Starting with these foundations for health and wellness, I quickly noticed the positive changes starting which then accelerated with my favourite self love ways:
DEEP BREATHING also called belly breathing or abdominal breaths, helps to lower stress and anxiety levels as well as encourage proper oxygenation to the body. This is widely practised in my yoga & in my daily meditation.
DAILY JOURNALING & gratitude is very important to make the time for each day to tune into self -care such as listing my daily rituals & morning routines & listing all of the things that I am grateful for.
POSITIVE SELF TALK I am always aware of the internal dialogue, making sure it is always positive as this fills me with optimism, hope, & gratitude for myself & others.
YOGA is a great self-care practice that combines exercise, stress management, breathing, & meditation. In the few months I have been learning I have already noticed increased flexibility & tone as well as a reduction in my weight!
WALKING has fantastic health benefits & is free & accessible to the vast majority of us. As I live near the mountains, I have an abundance of beautiful fresh air, nature & scenery & so spending even just a few minutes a day walking really helps clear my mind.
MEDITATION is another multi-use self-care tool that has far-reaching effects. I find meditating daily helps stress reduction, increases my emotional health, improves focus & improves sleep!
EAT PROTEIN TO BALANCE BLOOD SUGARS As I am always on the go & sometimes too busy to eat, to help sustain energy levels, help balance mood, & cut down on unhealthy snacking I always carry a protein snack. These are generally pumpkin seeds, nuts & trail mixes.
GRATITUDE is the practice of reflecting on things to be thankful for. As already mentioned above, I practise daily gratitude as this helps develop positive neural pathways in the brain to cultivate more positive emotions. Recording as little as three things each day to be grateful for can be life-changing!
LISTENING TO MY BODY Part of self-love is listening to my body. Paying attention to the signals that my body gives me & taking action. Examples include eating when my body tells me it’s hungry (before getting Hangry!), going to the bathroom right when my bladder signals, & going to sleep when I start feeling tired. Too often, we suppress these signals because we are too busy or because it’s not the right time & it can have detrimental effects.
LEARNING TO SAY NO! Over time I have had to learn to just say no to over commitments, to learn to set new boundaries & to be able to focus on my own values, priorities & needs!
SMILING!Simply smiling can release endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals in the brain. Smiling also has social benefits & can create a positive ripple effect. I know that smiling improves my mood & is a great habit to add to my self-care practice! Often when my clients struggle to practise smiling – I ask them to walk round (at home) with a pen in their mouth just for several minutes daily, this stimulates the feel good chemicals & signals in the brain – so there is no excuse not to find a way to smile.
These are just some of the ways that I enhance self- love & so now… its over to you!…There is so much that you can do to practice the art of self love & strengthen the message that you send to yourself – Take some time now to practise the art of self love & soon you will start to feel different, to be better at your work, to be the best partner, parent or friend you can possibly be!
Donna – Ultimate Retreat clinical hypnotherapist