By: Julie Maio
Check out Julie's bio here!
In case you haven’t had the chance to check in with your calendar, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and we’ll soon be bombarded with pictures, posts, and other reminders of love manifesting between two people. But what about self-love and your relationship with yourself?
Oftentimes, other relationships in our lives take precedence over taking care of ourselves: spouse/partner, children, family, friends, work relationships, etc. Yet, if we don’t nurture the relationship with ourselves and check in every once in awhile, our overall happiness and ability to connect with and support others may suffer.
It took me a long time to realize that my inability to enjoy time spent alone with myself and my reluctance to engage in self-love (I’m a recovering Type-A perfectionist - it’s not the easiest identity to shed!) that I was doing myself a major disservice. Once I started facing an onslaught of health crises in 2012, I realized that in order to get better I *had* to put myself first and love myself through the difficult times.
Thankfully, I stopped being stubborn (for once in my life), and I employed the help of my therapist and self-help books to start on my self-love journey. After a few years of practicing self-love, I’d like to share some ideas and tips with you all that helped me improve my relationship with myself and that created a foundation of self-love from next-to-nothing.
Get to know yourself
Similar to the “getting to know you” phase of a new friendship or a romantic relationship, you should do the same with yourself if you find this step necessary. At the time my self-love journey started, I was 22, just graduated college, and didn’t really know who I was.
After college, I had to do a deep soul-searching dive to reconnect with myself. I asked myself the following questions, which may help you start a similar dialogue with yourself: What am I truly passionate about? Which interests did I ditch because they weren’t “cool” to my friends? What are my likes and dislikes? What pulls on my heartstrings? Who am I at my core?
By connecting with my own truths and my inner-self, I was able to move on with my self-love journey based on authentic intentions, which I think is crucial to fostering a better relationship with yourself.
Figure out what self-love looks like to you
Self-love, like romantic love, is not a universal concept - it looks different for everyone. For example, self-love to me is carving out time to play video games or to listen to one of my favorite albums, buying myself a jar of sunflower butter to enjoy, or taking myself on a hike or walk. For others, it might be going to get a mani/pedi, taking a relaxing bath, watching a documentary on the history of sportsball, or whatever else tickles your fancy.
Point being, make sure you have an understanding of what activities, items, media, etc. you love so that when you go to enact in self-love you’re doing something that you’ll enjoy. I actually have a list of things that I love to do in case I’m depleted of self-love and need to come up with something in a pinch :)
Make time for yourself
Now, I fully recognize that as a single female who’s only responsible for me, myself, and I that it isn’t always easy for parents, spouses, or even people who have pets to carve out time for themselves. Yet, I’m going to encourage you to even find 15-20 minutes to do something that you like. While it’s great to figure out what self-love looks like to you, if you don’t have any time to carry out anything on the list you won’t reap the benefits. Even if you do nothing but enjoy your solitude during your alone time, at least you’re getting in touch with yourself and checking in to see how you’re doing.
Take yourself out on a date
After graduating from graduate school in Illinois, most of my friends moved away and I stayed behind for a job. As such, I didn’t have my crew of awesome people to hang out with and do fun things together. In the past, I would have used this as the perfect excuse to stay home all the time and do nothing, but I decided to push myself outside of my comfort zone and started taking myself on “dates.” Just because I didn’t always have people to go with me to the movies, or see a concert, or check out an interesting speaker somewhere didn’t mean I needed to miss out.
Long story short, take yourself out on a date just like you would with another person. It could even be a fun night in with your favorite movies to binge watch. As long as you’re treating yourself to something you enjoy and making the most of your alone time, I’d say you’re good to go :)
To end this post on an inspirational note, I leave you with the following quote:
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”