Self Love. It’s easy to hear these words and write them off as over-flowery and even a little woo-woo.
Okay, so I love myself. Sure. Now what? What is self-love REALLY, in a practical, actionable sense?
To truly comprehend self-love, we first need to acknowledge what not practicing self-love looks like, and just how common it is for us to fall into unhealthy self-treatment. Throughout the hustle and bustle of life, and especially in an era where productivity is valued above most things, it’s become FAR too easy to neglect our own needs, skip a meal, not rest, and burn ourselves out in the pursuit of results. Results at work. Fitness results. Personal goals and expectations. These are common areas where we lose our connection with self-love and the art of simply looking out for ourselves.
It’s imperative that we practice, nurture and maintain our connection to self-love:
a) to take care of ourselves (i.e. our health, wellness, sanity, state of mind),
b) to even have the energy and brain-power to keep up with the day-to-day,
c) and to be there for the people we love. (We can’t pour from an empty glass!!)
There’s an infinite number of ways to be kind to ourselves. I’d like to start by highlighting 4 practical ways we can practice self-love in our own lives.
𝐂𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐚 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐦, 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐮𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐟𝐮𝐠𝐞.
It can be a small corner, a room, your backyard, or your whole living space. The idea is to have at least one area of refuge where you can relax. Relaxation is different for everyone. It may mean meditation for one person and creative crafting for another. What you may need one day may change another day–that’s why it’s intuitive!
Here are some ideas for your calm space:
Personally, I find plants SUPER calming. Creating my own little garden (or jungle!) and tending to them regularly really provides me a sense of peace. They’re stunning visually, they naturally filter the air in your home, and they provide great company while you work or read.
For those of you without a green thumb, I know what you’re thinking: Keeping plants alive is stressful! Here is a list of very low maintenance plants that are actually pretty hard to kill:
- Pothos – Can be kept in soil or water. Grows fast, easily propagated, and tolerant of most under/over watering.
- ZZ Plant – The waxy leaves of this plant keep it hydrated, ensuring it thrives even with minimal light and minimal water.
- Snake Plant – Literally happy with almost zero attention. Just water weekly and watch it grow!
Pillows & Blankets
Lay back and get comfy! With just a few soft items, you can create a cozy nook on a large window sill, couch, or even the floor! Hammocks are also a great idea for an outdoor refuge.
Is reading your happy place? Surround yourself with books. Include them in your nook! Curl up on the couch or in your bed with a good book and take some much deserved downtime to immerse yourself in another world.
Incense? Essential oils? Diffusers? Set the mood in any room by playing with your sense of smell!
Scent is a powerful tool for your brain. Certain scents like rosemary have even been found to improve memory and cognition. Don’t live near the ocean, but wish you did? Find a beachy smell, lay back and transport yourself to a different place and time.
Another great way to play with the senses is through sound. I find that I can shift my mood entirely just but throwing on music that’s closer to how I’d like to feel. Uplifting, calm, or Air’s “Playground Love”. Whatever you like. It’s YOUR space!
If you’re a busy-body like me, sometimes it’s difficult to unwind without feeling at least somewhat productive. I find that coloring books keep my hands and eyes busy, while allowing my mind to relax.
Of course, you can also use candles for scent, but I find the real appeal is the soft glow and slight flicker of a flame. There’s something about that soft glow (at any time of day) that can make almost any environment serene.
If you find you have to do a bit of cleaning to get your space in order, be sure to make it fun for yourself. Turn the music up. Dance with the broom. Ritualize the experience by visualizing the area as your mind, as you organize clutter and “put away” worries.
This entire practice is meant to intentionally make room in your life for self-love. For rest. For comfort. For safety.
How will you customize your refuge? Where will it be and what will be in it? What will you use it for?