LoveAndLifeToolBox

Ladies, How About This for Valentines Day?

Whether you plan to shower love on a sweetie, your friends, enjoy your children’s experience with Valentines Day or none of the above, how about adding a loving focus on YOU?

Self-care is self-love.  

Self-care is just that, mindful attention to things that feel good for you, that give you a sense of peace and ground you when things get crazy.  And you are the only one who can make it happen.  Nobody else if responsible for your self-care.

For some, it can be challenging to make this happen.  Obstacles include prioritizing the time to do it but also beliefs about whether you deserve it.  Truthfully, you can be your best person; your best friend, partner, spouse, girlfriend, co-worker and parent if you allow space for the little things that bring you joy, allow for rest or do whatever it is that relaxes you and makes you happy.

The self-love I’m speaking about is not the narcissistic kind but a state of appreciation of yourself and your need to be as well psychologically.  Women are tasked with a lot these days; taking care of many and often working.  Consider it less of an indulgence and more of a practiced discipline for improved emotional and relationship health.  And it doesn’t need to be particularly time consuming or complicated!

Let Valentines Day, the holiday of love, serve as a reminder.

Here are 22 ways to practice self-care:

  1. Get outside.  Being outdoors boosts your energy, immune system, focus and helps with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
  2. Reconsider your schedule.  If over-scheduling and commitment is negatively impacting you, streamline your calendar.
  3. Stretch it out.  Stretching releases tension, increases flexibility and calms the mind.
  4. Take in the good.  Hold in your mind a positive experiences for up to 20 seconds to register in your emotional memory.
  5. Clear it out.  Clean and organize your spaces for reduced anxiety and increased sense of competency.
  6. Unplug occasionally.  Challenge your brain not to “check” your phone or other devices.  Are you more present?
  7. Take a nap.  A sleep break for up to 20 minutes can improve mood, memory, performance and provide relaxation.
  8. Nourish your body.  A healthy diet can reduce cancer risk, help with weight management, heart health and mood.
  9. Take a bath.  Being submerged in warm water is not only very relaxing but can calm your nervous system.
  10. Do art.  Spend some time creating something in whatever art form resonates with you.
  11. Move your body.  Whether it’s a gym workout, a walk or dance party with friends, get moving for exercise and a mood boost.
  12. Notice something new.  Break out of auto-pilot by looking around more.  Is there beauty you’ve been missing?
  13. Meditate.  Even a daily five minutes of focused breathing can reduce stress and counter a negativity bias over time.
  14. Write it down.  Journaling can help process your emotions and identify negative thinking patterns.
  15. Re-assess your relationships.  Is there anyone in your life who brings more pain that pleasure?  Maybe it’s time for a change.
  16. Get a massage.  Not only is this relaxing but can reduce anxiety, depression and stress.
  17. Say “no.”  People often stress around having too much going on and it’s often self-sabotage by taking on too much.
  18. Do an act of kindness.  Helping others is great for the receiver but can also improve the well-being of the helper.
  19. Make a gratitude list.  Shifting to an awareness of gratitude can enhance empathy, happiness and reduce depression.
  20. Talk to a friend.  Sometimes we need to download and process our challenges with a trusted other to avoid bottling them up.
  21. Spiritual check-in.  Whether religion or other, where do you find deeper meaning?  Are you fulfilled in this area?
  22. Gift yourself.  Find something with meaning to give to yourself.  Flowers?  An experience or a meaningful physical symbol of self-love?

Though intimate relationships get the bulk of the spotlight on Valentines Day, there is room to include love for self in the various ways it can be expressed.  For me, being outside, napping, exercise, meditation and talking to trusted friends are in my self-care plan.  Additionally, hearts are symbolic of outward and inward love so I gifted myself a heart shaped necklace to remind me.

What does your self-care plan look like?  Review the list above and go!

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Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of LoveAndLifeToolbox.com with emotional and relationship health articles, guides, courses and other tools for individuals and couples. She is a frequent consultant for the media having appeared in CNN.com, HuffingtonPost.com, MensHealth.com and others. Lisa has a private practice in Marin County, CA and offers Emotional Health and Relationship Consultations via email, phone or video conference.