Self-care is very much in vogue nowadays. Sales in bath bombs, journals, and face masks are soaring and YouTube is flooded with tutorials and self-care vlogs.
But what about self-love? Self-love runs much deeper than self-care and can change your life for the better.
Learning to love yourself can help you flourish in your career, your relationships, and help you to make the most of your life.
In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at self-love, and some great self-love activities which can set you on the path for positive life changes.
Self Care Vs. Self Love
While self-care can be an act of self-love, self-love is not an act of self-care. What do I mean by this?
Let me explain! Many blogs and articles use self-care and self-love as interchangeable terms, but this isn’t correct. To clarify:
What Is Self Care?
Self-care is the act of looking after yourself in a physical (such as pampering), mental (resting), emotional (journalling), or spiritual (meditation) way. Self-care is taking the time out of your day to look after you.
Self-care is all about being aware of your own needs and doing what is needed to look after your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual well-being.
Self-care may be a full day of spa pampering, or it may be a few minutes taken out of your day to browse the internet or indulge in your favorite snack.
Self-care is definitely important, and can be one of the stepping stones to self-love, but does not replace learning self-love entirely.
What Is Self-Love?
Self-love is something which can take years and even decades to form, and very few of us will ever feel self-love 100% of the time.
Self-love is the ability to accept yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It’s being comfortable in your own skin and being grateful for who you are.
As mentioned, self-love may include self-care but is also about a change in mindset, celebrating your quirks and differences, and learning to overcome and heal from past events and traumas.
The ultimate goal of self-love is to love yourself without apology. As self-care makes you feel good in the short term it can be a great catalyst for taking the next steps in your journey towards self-love.
My Own Self Love Journey
Now, let’s pause for a moment before we move on to some activities and ways you can start to change your life for the better through cultivating self-love.
I feel the need to pause and talk about my own self-love journey because it seems like all the self-love guides out there come from a place of superiority.
The writer feels like they’re a zen master or a perfect person who adores every fiber of the being. I’m not that person, not at all, and I’m not going to sit here and tell you anything but the truth because you deserve full transparency.
So, do I love myself? Honest answer? No – but I’m working on it! I’m a full-blown empath and an introvert. Over the years my self-esteem and sense of self-worth have been knocked by a variety of negative experiences.
Some days I feel really positive about myself and who I am, and other days I will actively avoid mirrors or spend my day beating myself up mentally.
This is why I feel the need to stress that self-love isn’t a destination but a journey. There are going to be ups and downs, obstacles you need to scale, as well as roadblocks.
It’s okay to have low points or times where you need to put self-love on the back burner and just focus on getting through the days.
To be honest, this is an act of self-love in itself because you’re giving yourself the time to just go through the day-to-day motions of life without the added pressures of personal development.
Lastly, I want to preface this article by stating that self-love is not narcissistic. As an empath who often focuses on others and dislikes standing out from the crowd, loving myself can feel like bumping up my ego.
This isn’t the case. Self-love is about knowing and accepting your worth both to yourself and society and it’s important to remember that.
11 Self Love Activities That Will Change your Life
Now, before we get into the list I want to mention that not all of these will apply or interest you, we’re all different and that’s a beautiful thing.
Instead, this list can be treated as a variety of ideas that you can try to start your self-love journey or reach the next stage in your travels towards self-acceptance.
While being a free agent is sometimes a great thing and can be just the break we need from life’s stresses, having no plan for a long period can leave you feeling lost and unfulfilled.
You’re also much more likely to simply coast through life and let exciting opportunities pass you by.
As with all things in life its a matter of balance, as you don’t want to feel chained down by a routine.
Instead, having some structure in place can help you to focus your time, hone relevant skills, and attain goals which can lead to a boost in confidence, self-image, and ultimately self-love.
One of the easiest ways to start adding some routine to your life is through a planner. This doesn’t have to be one of those hyper-detailed and impeccably decorated planners seen on Pinterest as often a simple notebook or even a document on your phone is more than enough.
Each Sunday spend some time taking stock of the previous week and thinking about the week ahead.
You may find it useful to plan healthy meals for the week to care for your body, write down meetings and things to remember to unclutter your mind or write some short-term goals for the week ahead.
Personally, a routine that really helps both my mental and physical health is a good sleep routine.
I’m a freelance writer so I’m responsible for my own time-management, but even when I was a university student I found a good sleep schedule really benefited me as over-sleeping can be just as bad as under-sleeping.
I keep my routine casual as feeling pressured to sleep is never going to work. I aim to fall asleep between 10-12 pm and wake up between 8:00-9:30 am. This is my personal sweet spot but you should definitely play around with what works best for you!
2. Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation isn’t for everyone (I’m more of a mindfulness gal myself), which is why I’ve grouped mindfulness into this entry too.
Meditation and mindfulness encourage us to be present at the moment, to become aware of the motions of our body as well as our heart rate and breathing.
Both methods are great for removing stress and give the chance to clear our minds of unnecessary junk and refocus on what matters.
While meditation and meditative activities such as yoga encourage you to focus intensely on your body (which is why I’m not so keen), mindfulness encourages you to focus on your mental state and thought patterns.
Mindfulness can be used in combination with meditation or yoga or you can choose the method which best suits you.
Both mediation and mindfulness can help you take a step forward on your self-love journey as they encourage you to be self-aware.
This can be uncomfortable at first but over time people who practice either technique tend to become more comfortable in either their physical skin or mental persona.
3. Surround Yourself with the Good
A real turning point in my own self-love journey was when I stopped conforming to trends and what I thought I should like, and surrounding myself with things I actually liked.
For example, I always used to struggle to read because I thought I should be reading high brow literary fiction which had me yawning.
Once I shunned this perception and read what actually excited me I opened up a whole new world of possibility that sparked my passion for reading.
The same can be said for people. Sometimes we keep toxic people in our lives simply because we’ve known them for years or we’re too nice to put ourselves first.
This has to stop.
Toxic people are energy vampires, interacting with them leaves you drained and knocks your self-esteem.
You’ll never be good enough in the eyes of an energy vampire so try to distance those who make you feel bad or drained.
4. Learn to Accept What you Can’t Love
Unless you’re the world’s biggest narcissist you’re not ever going to love everything about your life or yourself.
Self-love isn’t about achieving this end goal, in fact, recognizing the things you don’t like but cannot change and learning to accept them is an act of self-love.
To give an example I’m 5ft 1. My height has affected quite a few things in my life from how other people perceive me, to job interviews, and not to mention how sick to death I am of short jokes!
While I wish I could be a few inches taller I’ve come to accept that that will never happen and that I’m almost always going to be the shortest person in any lineup.
I’ve learned to focus on some of the benefits of being small, – swinging your legs in a chair is definitely one of life’s’ great simple pleasures -, and if I choose can gain a few inches by my choice of footwear.
You may feel that you will never love a certain aspect about yourself, but by learning to accept it you may find that said feature starts to grow on you and it might just be something that ultimately defines you as you.
5. Practice Self Care
As mentioned self-care definitely has its place in self-love.
Being able to spot when you need to give yourself some TLC or rewarding yourself with something that makes you feel good can be a great pathway to self-love and/or self-acceptance.
The best thing about self-care is that it can take whatever form you’d like and can be tailored to caring for your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
I could write a whole article on self-care alone, but to keep things brief, here are some examples of how you can practice self-care for your needs:
Physical: Home spa day, yoga, nap, putting on comfy clothes
Mental: Meditation, journaling, brain dumping, talking therapy
Emotional: Venting, emotional toolbox, spending time with your support system
Spiritual: Burning incense/essential oils, scrying activities such as tarot
6. Caring for Others
Empaths can really struggle to practice self-care due to their selfless nature and the fact that looking after others is not only what they’re good at but what they find spiritually enriching.
I know that I am happier when giving attention and care to others than I am receiving it.
Empaths may be relieved to know that giving love to others is actually an act of self-love, you simply need to know how and why.
Remember when I said that self-love isn’t narcissism? This is because true self-love doesn’t come from a place of self-centered arrogance or an inflated ego.
You will never know the depths of fulfillment until you open your heart and your worldview to others, and empaths simply have a head-start in this.
Taking joy in the success of others nurtures your self-esteem and self-worth leading to a greater level of self-love so long as the individual takes time for themselves too – it’s all about balance!
7. Receiving Care From Others
While many of us love being looked after by others, for some it can be a struggle. If you’re used to being the ‘strong’ one in your group or are very independent, receiving care can be a difficult thing.
Receiving care means letting your guard down and opening up vulnerable parts of yourself be this physically such as a massage or a hug, mentally such as sharing something personal about you, or emotionally such as asking for help or sharing your feelings.
Allowing yourself to receive care from others is a form of self-awareness that directly stems from self-love.
Knowing your limits is one thing, but knowing when you need the help of others and acting upon this need takes knowledge of your worth and value as well as prioritizing yourself – which can definitely be a challenge sometimes.
8. Self Esteem Interventions
Self-esteem and self-love go hand in hand. If you can’t like yourself you can’t be expected to love yourself.
Sadly many of us experience hardship in life which can impact our self-esteem such as bullying, toxic relationships, and mental health concerns.
While self-esteem can be regained over time you can also take steps to improve your self-esteem by using interventions such as the FAST approach:
F (Be Fair): Be fair to yourself, your needs are just as important as others. Practice being assertive and trust your voice.
A (No Apologies): Don’t give an apology unless it is justified. You never need to apologize for having an opinion that differs from others.
S (Stick to Values): While we all learn and grow and change our worldview it is important to never compromise or abandon your values because of external pressure.
T (Be Truthful): Be truthful both to yourself and others. Try to keep yourself accountable and don’t make excuses for your own or others’ behavior.
9. Learn to Trust yourself
This is definitely something I struggle with. I’m a big worrier and find I often need confirmation and encouragement from others when making decisions.
Trusting yourself is an important part of self-love because through trusting your actions and choices you are recognizing your own worth, value, and authority.
Some people struggle to make decisions within a group because they wrongly associate assertiveness with bossiness.
This can be a hard mental trap to escape. To begin to trust yourself start small, if you live with a significant other try making the decisions on what you eat for a week or plan a day out with friends.
10. Know that Your Journey is Yours
Everyone is different, it’s what makes the world we live in wonderful.
This logic also applies to self-love, as the journey you take to loving yourself is personal to you.
You may be a naturally assertive person, therefore trusting yourself isn’t an issue, but maybe taking the time to look after yourself is.
On a similar vein maybe you’re great at caring for others but struggle with your own self-esteem.
While guides such as this help generate ideas and provide suggestions to try, it’s important not to view them as gospel. Instead, pick and choose what you like from your research and what will work best for you.
11. Be Kind to Yourself!
Lastly, be kind to yourself! Cut yourself some slack because nobody’s perfect!
Remember, self-love isn’t a destination but a journey and there will be bumps and obstacles along the way.
There are going to be days where you just don’t like yourself or are not happy with part of your life.
In fact, this is one of the largest elements of self-love, it’s learning to accept and process the bad and get back up after them.
It’s about taking what you have learned and applying it next time. Put simply, self-love is about growth and becoming your best self, and a little kindness goes a long way to achieving this!
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