It’s Valentine’s month and just about everywhere is filled with notices about love and being in love. But what about US? What about self-love?
If you’ve been lurking on the blog lately you’ll notice that I’ve been making an effort to include things like self-love lately because it’s something I am severely lacking in. Yes, even a year into recovery I’m still struggling to accept and love myself. Not surprising really when you consider the many, many years I’ve spent self-hating.
Check out Learning To Love Yourself At Any Size.
How to best practice self-love.
By Allegra G.
Self-care and self-love are all the rage these days. Look just about anywhere and you’ll hear someone explaining the benefits of putting yourself first or you’ll see someone with their morning routine on display. While these may be on-trend right now, they aren’t just some fad.
Showing yourself love is even more important when you’re dealing with chronic or mental illness. Life is unpredictable and you don’t know what each day will look like. Will your symptoms flare-up? What if you can’t even get out of bed? Will you have the energy to get through the day? With so many questions, life can feel like little more than survival.
When things feel overwhelming or unsteady, it’s partially because we’re not taking control of our lives and we’re not putting systems in place to help us live life to the fullest (cheesy cliche, sure, but also valid). That’s where self-love comes in. By showing yourself love and taking care of yourself, you regain control over each day. You make commitments, big or small, to yourself to show up, to be present, and to make yourself a priority.
Top 5 Ways to Love Yourself More.
1. A nutritious diet.
You don’t have to be a master chef to prepare healthy, delicious meals for yourself. Making sure you’re getting enough nutrients is important to keep your body running properly. Taking the time to cook every week is also a great way to have some “me” time. If you live with a partner or friends it’s also a great way to get them involved.
Maybe you don’t have time to cook every day and that’s okay. Why not try meal prepping on the weekends or on a day you’re off work? That way the food is ready to go straight out of the fridge or freezer.
Stuck for nutritious meal ideas? Pinterest is great for healthy recipes! You can also prepare simple meal components (such as a protein, vegetables, rice, etc) that you can put together for different meals. The possibilities are endless and the inspiration for healthy meals is never far away.
Don’t forget to treat yourself every so often too! Just because you’re trying to be healthy doesn’t mean you can’t eat some chocolate every now and again. Balance is all about moderation, after all.
2. ‘Eating the frog‘.
You don’t literally have to eat a frog and I get that it’s not a widely understood phrase, so allow me to explain. Eat The Frog means that you do the hardest task of the day first. When you have a chronic or mental illness it’s very important to prioritize your to-do list. That way you know what needs to be done now and what can wait until later. When we have a big or challenging task our first reaction might be to procrastinate, but then we’ll keep putting it off. When we do this it can only lead to heightened levels of anxiety.
Instead of forever procrastinating make a list the night before of your top 3 to-dos. Start with the most challenging or time-consuming and gradually work your way down to the less taxing tasks. The next day all the hard stuff will be out of the way before you know it. That way you won’t keep fretting about it.
I once read somewhere that you should never have anything more than 7 things on your to-do list at any one time! Remember this as you make your own lists!
3. Practicing gratitude.
You’ve likely heard all about the benefits of a gratitude practice and that’s because they really do work. Each morning or night write down one or more things that make you happy or that you’re thankful for. Like with cooking, this gives you a moment to slow down and focus on yourself. It helps to shift your mindset to a more positive one. This is especially great to do when you’re feeling low.
While all feelings are valid and you should feel all the feels, taking a moment to write down or think of what you’re grateful for can pull you in a new, more positive direction.
4. Set boundaries and stick to them!
Boundaries are so important for maintaining your mental and emotional health and wellness. While it might not seem like an obvious way to show self-love, setting boundaries allows you to decide what you do and don’t allow in your life.
It can be challenging and uncomfortable to start setting boundaries, so start small. This could be something like going to bed at a specific time each night and not letting anything or anyone interfere. You can also set boundaries for how people to speak to you about your illness, who you follow on social media, or how often you’re able to socialize.
5. Be intentional.
When you do things like cook healthy meals, eat the frog, practice gratitude, and set boundaries, you’re living an intentional life. Instead of just letting things happen to you, you choose what happens. If you’re feeling like your life is running you instead of you running your life, it’s time to take a look at where you can be more intentional.
- Do you need to set stronger boundaries?
- Do you need to stop and think before making decisions?
- Do you need to learn to better tune in to your body?
Whatever the case approaching life with intention helps to relieve stress and anxiety, which we all know triggers chronic illness and chronic pain.
About the author.
Allegra Gallian is a freelance writer from Chicago, IL. She’s been writing for more than a decade and her favorite subjects to write about are health and wellness. Allegra also has anxiety and fibromyalgia. She uses her own experience with chronic illness and chronic pain to inform her writing over at Seeking Spoons. When she’s not typing away at her computer, Allegra loves to read, spend time with her two cats, and try out new restaurants.