Mindful Self-Love In Your Daily Life

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is all about showing love and appreciation to your loved ones. You might have seen a lot of self-love themed marketing campaigns, where companies try to sell you jewellery, skincare, flowers, chocolates, all to treat yourself. This is one way of showing yourself appreciation, yes, but there are a million other ways, less expensive, less big grand gestures, that we incorporate into our daily lives and show ourselves daily self-love.

Self-Compassion vs Self-Love

Recently, I wrote a blog post about mindful self-compassion, meaning giving ourselves exactly what we need in that moment and being our own best friend instead of enemy. However, self-love is different from self-compassion, Whereas self-compassion is more about compassion towards ourself, self-love is all about showing yourself appreciation!
In psychology, self-love is known to not be selfish, but necessary to have a healthy relationship with yourself (even in times of failure) while impacting others positively as well.

“It all starts with you! If you are not in a good place, characterised by balance, compassion, and inner peace, you are likely in no position to do your best work or be the best partner, parent, or friend that you can be.”

Courtney Ackerman, PositivePsychology.com

Benefits & the Why of Self-Love

Showing ourselves compassion and appreciation in the difficult moments is important because it helps us overcome it. A mindful approach would be: I acknowledge these feelings that I have, and I remain curious and open about them, while soothing myself knowing I am not alone in this, knowing this will not last forever, and I give myself what I feel is best for me in that moment,
The benefits of self-love range from protection against depression, greater happiness, more motivation in life to healthy relationships, and the list goes on.

Self-Love & the 5 Love Languages

As I mentioned before, self-love does not have to be a great, grand gesture, buying yourself something or spending money on something necessarily. There are 5 love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, physical touch and acts of service, If your love language is mainly gifts, then it would make sense if you’re happy buying yourself gifts. We all have a mixture of love languages, some might have been influenced by our childhood: how other people showed us love. Figuring out your love languages can help you navigate through relationships and understand the other person better, but it can also help you in practising self-love.
What is your biggest love language? How can you show that to yourself?
For example, mine are words of affirmation and quality time, therefore I love to schedule out some me-time, doing things I love or that make me feel good (spa night, manicure, cooking myself dinner, meditating, journaling,…) speaking of journalling, that goes into the “words of affirmation bucket, as I love to write myself a love letter, and also state affirmation in front of the mirror. its like shooting an arrow and hitting it right into the bullseye: giving yourself exactly what you value so much in other relationships.

The Little, Big Things

But let’s talk about the smaller, yet as important, ways on which we can incorporate self-love into our daily lives. Taking care of ourselves and our space is highly underrated.
Making your bed
Making your bed is a keystone habit, meaning it reflects other choices you take in life and it heightened your discipline, and reflects even your financial situation: it is one of the most important habits and also. way of showing yourself love: keeping the space where you rest, which is *highly* important, a safe and neat space.
Put your health and wellbeing first
Yesterday I had my annual dentist’s appointment, and I realised this is also a way of taking care of ourselves and showing ourselves that we are worth it, that we care about ourselves. You would not let someone you love abandon their health, would you? You would encourage them to take care of it. Even these less glamorous moments are the ones that count.
Making sure you drink enough water, get your vitamins, move your body, take care of your overall health and wellbeing is a great way to show yourself love on a daily basis without having to make big gestures.
Take care of your mental health, too
Mindfulness has drastically changed my life for the better, helping me overcome my severe anxiety, and it was also a way of self-love. I was taking medication doctors prescribed me against the anxiety, but actually I was not at all handling the root cause: my mind. I was trying to fix my body. But then, who knows for how long I would have taken those pills if it wasn’t for mindfulness? It was an investment of money, time and effort, going through an 8 week MBSR course (Mindfulness Bases Stress Reduction), but the benefits are here for a whole lifetime, as I continue to expand my mindfulness skills and am now teaching it, 6 years later.
Of course, I am not saying mindfulness can resolve any mental health issue or disease, so please talk to a health care professional first. I am just sharing my experience on this. Even a couple minutes of meditation a day is incredibly beneficial to you, and to reap those benefits all you have to do is schedule a bit of me-time during your day.
Release the guilt
As I mentioned before, it is necessary we give ourselves what we need in that specific moment. Whether that is a nap, a dessert, a video call with a friend, or a good run. But sometimes, we have this voice in our head judging us and making us feel guilty for having that ice-cream, binge-watching that show, skipping a run because we feel tired, etc. Releasing the guilt of not doing something is crucial here.
Imagine a friend is very tired from work, and they do not feel like going on a run with you. They are completely drained and much rather rest at home. Your reaction would not be: you are weak, you have to go for a run, how dare you rest, you need to move? No, your reaction would probably be: that is okay I totally understand, take all the rest you need.
So, why it is so difficult to have this approach to ourselves? It all has to do with self-talk and the way we look at ourselves. If we can bring in more of that appreciation and compassion, we can slowly by slowly change our self-talk and actually allow ourselves to do what feels right. I will discuss this further in the next chapter “self talk”.
Because, as with many things in life, restriction leads to binging. If we cannot have something, we want it so much more. While giving yourself what you need, that occasional ice cream (for example) is not a total distaster and you enjoy it mindfully and guilt-free.

Self-Talk

We are the person we talk to the most in our lives.
How do you talk to yourself? How do you see yourself? How would you like to see yourself? What would it take for you to see yourself that way?
I discussed this in my previous post about self-compassion: 1 component of mindful self-compassion is going from self-judgment to self kindness. We are our biggest critics. Sure, this protects us and this helps us in improving and being our own best selves, but it can also bring us down, make us feel small, helpless, a victim.
Instead of going that direction, notice it is *only* your inner critic judging you, and that you know better. You do not have to listen to it, you have to be aware of it. In that moment of awareness, you create space. Space for you to choose: will I get caught up in what my inner citric has to tell me, or will I say: not today?
As with a lot of things in life, the first step of being more kind to yourself and show yourself more self-love, compassion and appreciation, is becoming aware. Becoming aware of what your love language is, of how you talk to yourself, how you treat yourself, how you take care of yourself. That is where mindfulness steps in and helps us becoming aware on a non-judgmental, curious way.
If you’re curious right now about mindfulness, download my free e-book A Guide to Mindful Living here, or check out other blogposts about mindfulness. Listen to my podcast about mindful living and purposeful traveling during your next run, walk or commute, and let me know what you found of it!
Sending lots of love, and remember to be kind to yourself this Valentines day and any other day!

4 Mindful Steps to Self-Love

In all my years practising meditation and self-love, I’ve discovered 4 essential steps to self-love.
Research on self-compassion and self-love show it is associated with less stress, less anxiety, more optimism, better recovery from stress, and it paves the way to a positive mindset, which helps you overcome obstacles or challenges more.
Instead of making it hard on yourself by judging yourself or thinking negatively, you switch to a positive state of mind. Just think about how much we can accomplish, by being kind towards ourselves instead of hard.

1. Set an intention

In order to focus our internal compass on our true North, we have to set an intention first: to see the good in ourselves, so we can see it in others too. To send love and appreciation and compassion in ourselves, so we ourselves become more happier, loved and healthy.
The power of an intention is strong, because it seeks into your daily life. Self-love is a practice, so whenever you notice yourself thinking negatively abut yourself, whether that’s a negative body imagine, judging or comparing yourself – simply return to the intention you set, to love yourself. It allows us to celebrate our wins, and, in hard times, be gentle with ourselves. It’s treating ourselves as we would treat a friend who needs our help.

2. Write yourself a love letter

A practice I’ve discovered last year by listening to a talk from Elizabeth Gilbert on Insight Timer, has changed the way I handle this pandemic, lockdown, loneliness and so much more. In this talk, she discusses how we can face fear with compassion, and how writing a love letter to herself has helped her throughout decades of healing.
Of course, you are free to write whatever you want to, but here’s a guideline: dear x, I love you, and I know you can get through this. You got through everything so far, and I know you are strong and capable. I believe in you. I love xxx about you. I love how you are so xxx. etc. When you begin writing, you’ll notice a sense of relief, comfort, and love coming over you.
In this letter, you’ll basically write a letter to yourself, expressing your appreciation for everything you do, and expressing love and compassion towards yourself.

3. Say it out loud

Another practice that requires minimum time and gives you maximum levels of love, is practice saying it out loud to yourself. Stand in front of a mirror, set a timer for 1 minute, look yourself in your eyes and repeat the affirmation: I love you. I love you. I love you. Notice what feelings or emotions might arise, and continue to say it the whole minute. Challenge yourself to do this for a week, or a month, or anytime you feel like you need an extra dose of love.

3. Self-love & loving-kindness meditations

Let’s shift to meditation practices that are perfect to soothe yourself with some self-love. What I love about these meditations, is that they not only calm your mind and body, lower your blood pressure, calm your heart rate, improve your mood, so overall improve your emotional and physical health, they also fill you up, and recharge you, on levels you never even thought to visit.
Whether you are religious or spiritual or not, meditation is a beautiful practice that can be done by anyone really. Plus, it costs nothing to close your eyes, watch your breath and repeat affirmations, or visualise a scenario, or repeat a mantra, or simply keep focusing on your breath – but the benefits and consequences of it are priceless.
A loving-kindness meditation go like this: take a comfortable seat or lay down. Start by taking some deep, purposeful breaths, Next, start watching your breath. Whenever your attention wanders off, gently smile and bring it back to your breath. Next, picture yourself as a child. Re-visit that memory and gently repeat to yourself: may I be happy. May I be healthy, May I be peaceful. May I be safe. You can also picture people you love, or even the entire world. and repeat these affirmations, in order to send love to everyone out there.
If you’d like to know how a self-love meditation goes, I invite you to meditate with me on Insight Timer, on my Soothing Self-Love Meditation, In this meditation, we’ll fill ourselves up with the high feelings of love and spread it out into our world.

‘Tis the Season of Love: 3 Mindful Self-Compassion Practices

‘Tis the season of love. Friday’s full moon in Leo left us longing for (self)love and Valentine’s Day is approaching. The perfect time to take a look at how we can show ourselves some love.
So why do we need self-compassion? What can this do for you?
Self-compassion allows us to build up our emotional resilience through bringing in compassion, kindness and non-judgment to our feelings and emotions. It’s a way of soothing ourselves, and giving ourselves the comfort and sympathy we need when we are suffering, for whatever reason that might be: an angry email from a boss, the loss of a loved one, feelings of sadness or loneliness,…
Here are the 3 components of self-compassion.These practices are from MBSR – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness, grab your free copy of my e-book, a guide to mindful living, or check out this beginners’ guide to mindfulness.

1. Self-kindness (vs self-judgment)

The first step of practising self-compassion is self-kindness: being warm and loving to ourselves, not matter what difficulty we are facing. You want to comfort yourself and help yourself to do whatever you can to make yourself feel better in that moment.
How do you talk to yourself, and about yourself? How do you see yourself? Do you constantly judge yourself for mistakes or being imperfect, or are you kind to yourself?
We often don’t realise this, but we tend to be way harder on ourselves than a loved one. We tend to judge ourselves, and see everything that is *wrong*, in our eyes.
So instead of beating yourself up and judging yourself, and becoming more stressed, sad and frustrated about it – try to bring in sympathy and compassion for yourself. After all, life is full of imperfections, failures and suffering – instead of making it worse, try making it lighter by accepting what is happening right now and being kind to yourself, however you feel and in whatever state you are in.

2. Mindfulness (vs over-identification)

In order to give yourself compassion, you first have to notice it, and that’s where mindfulness comes in.
Mindfulness is about observing your thoughts, feelings and emotions as they are, without judging them and identifying with them.
But mindfulness is also about sitting with your feelings and emotions and being with them.
Step away from that inner self-critic and observe your thoughts, feelings and emotions just as they are.
Instead of rushing through and looking for a solution, we acknowledge the situation first and check in with yourselves. What is happening? What do we really need right now?

3. Common Humanity (vs isolation)

Coming back to the suffering – in the moment, we often think: why does this happen to me? Why am I the one feeling like this right no? What have I done wrong to deserve any of this? Why is my boss not being more kind to me?
When things go wrong, we feel really cut off from others. While in fact, this is what makes us human. In fact, being human means being imperfect. Life goes wrong sometimes.
This is part of being human. You are not the only one who has these feelings, and you will never be the only one. Recognising that everyone has bad days, we can shift back to a state of compassion and knowing you are human and this is all part of the ride.
Connecting with other people is a very important aspect of our human experience – knowing you are not alone,
Maybe you’re currently in lockdown, in that case – I feel you and I am here for you. Check out my other blogposts on navigating trough a(nother) lockdown.
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