Valentine's Day puts the emphasis on love for someone special in your life. But did you ever think that, hey, YOU are someone special in your life?
Why not make this day about loving yourself? You can't love someone else until your truly love yourself.
In honor of February 14, the designated day of love, here are 14 ways to practice self-love:
1. Practice acceptance.
You are perfectly imperfect. Learning to accept yourself for who you are is the most important step to self-love. Stop comparing yourself to others and learn to embrace the person you are.
You have beautiful qualities, both physical and emotional, that draw people to you. You don't need to look or talk or act like anyone else. We all offer the world something different. That's what makes it so beautiful.
2. Declutter your space.
Living or working in chaos can deeply affect your mood and create a feeling of chaos within. An open, organized space can be freeing and uplifting. I'm not saying you have to keep your space perfectly clean, but taking a little time to tidy up can make a big difference.
Getting rid of that pile of clothes you've been meaning to donate or sorting through that stack of papers you've been staring at for months can be quite refreshing. Think of it as getting rid of the old to make room for the new!
3. Pamper yourself.
Taking care of your body shows you have respect for the amazing temple your soul inhabits. Simple self-care techniques like dry skin brushing, taking a detox bath, or prioritizing quality sleep are all ways of respecting your body and showing it the love it needs (and deserves!).
4. Nourish your body.
Replenishing your body with clean water and real, whole food is a loving gesture. As they say, you are what you eat. If you eat garbage, you tend to feel like garbage. Show your body that it matters by providing the high-quality nutrients it needs to thrive.
5. Leave yourself a note.
When I was really down on my luck, battling chronic illness, my husband did something so simple but so helpful. He wrote a little note on my bathroom mirror to boost my spirits.
Every morning, the first place I went was my bathroom and the first thing I saw was that positive affirmation. Try writing a positive note or listing your goals as a reminder on your mirror so you can't avoid it. It's a great way to wake up each day.
6. Choose your tribe wisely.
As we grow up, the number of friends we have tends to shrink. But that's a good thing. As we mature, we start to value our time and our friendships more and shift focus from quantity to quality.
The energy of your inner circle is contagious, which is why it is so important to surround yourself with uplifting, supportive people.
7. Be grateful.
Our inner dialogue tends to focus on the negative — whether it's physical features, a mistake we made, or an opportunity we missed. How can you look at these in a positive light?
Are you grateful to have a healthy body that you can move and transform? How lucky are you to have a good job to provide for your family? Are you thankful that you were able to learn so much from that one little mistake you made the other day?
Finding things to be grateful for on a daily basis can help change your inner dialogue. If you tend toward negative internal conversation, gratitude is a wonderful way to change that.
8. Learn to let go.
This proved quite the challenge for me. It took me a long time to realize that other people's problems were just that — other people's problems. I had to accept that I cannot change and save everyone. I can only learn to establish my boundaries, offer help where it is welcomed, and — most importantly — know when to walk away.
You are not the world's savior. You can show kindness and compassion to others but not to the point at which it detracts from your other responsibilities. Sometimes, you just have to let things go.
9. Get comfortable with "me time."
So many people struggle with the idea of taking time for themselves. They dedicate their lives to careers or children or ailing parents, and the thought of taking a couple of hours for themselves brings too much guilt to consider.
Well, I am here to tell you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking some "me" time. Even just an hour every now and then can help to recharge, reset, and reenergize you. This is not only important for your own well-being but for those around you.
If you run yourself into the ground, what good will you be to anyone else? Remember, you have to put your oxygen mask on first if you want to be able to help the person next to you.
10. Take a tech time-out.
Between our phones and computers and TVs, our minds are constantly overstimulated. All this screen time can distract us from reality and from ourselves. Taking time at the end of the day without gadgets is a great way to get back in touch with yourself. How are you feeling? What are you thinking? What's going on in your body?
11. Start your day with a positive affirmation.
Begin each day by acknowledging something positive about yourself. Maybe you handled a stressful situation really well yesterday or accomplished your first headstand in yoga class. Even something as simple as acknowledging that you smiled a little more yesterday is worth noting. All the little things we overlook truly make a difference. Focusing on the positive moments in your day will transform your mindset over time.
12. Learn forgiveness.
It took a long time for me to accept this one. As much as I tried to be, I'm not (and no one is) perfect. Instead of harping on that mistake you made or beating yourself up over another "failed" diet, learn to forgive yourself. If you've never failed, then you've never tried. And that is the ultimate failure.
Be proud that you tried. Think of all the things you learned from each mistake you've made in life. Every bump in the road has helped you become the amazing, strong-willed person that you are today. Embrace your imperfections and learn to forgive yourself.
13. Have fun!
Life is short! It doesn't have to be so serious. While there is a time and a place to be serious, there should also be plenty of time to enjoy yourself. When's the last time you danced? Or sang at the top of your lungs? Allowing yourself to be creative and let loose will boost your spirits and remind you that life isn't just about work. There can still be some playtime in there, too!
14. Learn to say no.
I'm still working on this one, but I'm getting better. While it may feel uncomfortable at first, learning to say no is important. You must be able to set boundaries for yourself. I used to get frustrated and feel like people were taking advantage of my kindness. Looking back, if I wasn't showing myself any respect, why would others?
You can't be everything to everyone — and that's okay. Trust me, people will respect you when you stand up for yourself, and your relationships will flourish because of it.
This Valentine's Day, as you think about how to show that special someone in your life how much you care for and appreciate them — don't forget about yourself. Practicing self-love is something that takes very little time but has the ability to transform your life .