February is the month where we take a special day to acknowledge those who we love. It’s fun to think up something special to do and find just the right card. We are happy to spend the time doing this for others but what about ourselves?
When I was a young single mom, people would often tell me that I had to take care of myself first or I wouldn’t be any good for my kids if I was sick or burned out. I never found the time to heed the advice, always making excuses to myself about not having the money for a massage or the time to just sit and read. Thankfully, I never got sick but I was perpetually on the brink of total burnout. One day a friend called to ask how I was doing. My answer was truthful yet ended with a comical punchline:
“The kids are doing great, dinner is ready and the lunches are made for the morning, the laundry is done, floors are washed, but the dog ran away again and the plants are dead. Oh, and I’m fine.”
That was my order of priority.
As the years passed and my kids grew, the flurry calmed down a bit and I began to cultivate time to nurture myself in small ways. I hadn’t begun to love myself yet but I figured out ways to treat myself in ways that didn’t cost anything but the results were invaluable.
Below are some thoughts on ways to develop kindness to yourself. We start small but end up transformed into a person with undeniable self-worth.
Nurture your body.
It doesn’t take much to concentrate on buying healthier food. A healthy
diet is the first obvious way to say to your body that it deserves to be healthy. A clean diet just makes you feel better. Have some fun with it and find some great recipes that you look forward to eating.
Enjoy your morning bathing with a special soap that you absolutely love, or a special body cream. When you smell the beautiful fragrance, your senses are telling your body that you think it is worth it.
Get outside! Going for a run, bike ride or walk gets your endorphins revved and makes you happier. A little sweat flushes out toxins and makes your skin glow. It’s a great feeling to love how your body feels after a workout.
Practice gratitude. It is simply magical how it creates depth and clarity in your life. It also allows you to slow down and be more calm. It is a win/win when your appreciation for something gives back by making you feel so good.
Here is a list of 50 ways you can nurture yourself. http://www.gateways-to-inner-peace.com/self-nurturing.html
Carve out calm time.
It took me years to realize how important this is. My New Year’s Resolution last year was to take more baths. I think I had five. Hmmm… Allowing ourselves to just sit with a cup of tea or hang out in a hammock and just shut down the mind is so foreign yet so rejuvenizing! Put on some music and relax.
Clearing the mind is very healthy. That’s why yoga is so fabulous. Imagine running a marathon constantly. Your muscles would be strained beyond belief. The brain is an organ and must be allowed to experience calmness.
An uncluttered mind performs better. You will be amazed at your ability to remember more things and be more organized in your life. Stress will fall away when you feel back in control and you will become more positive.
Can calmness become a habit? Read about 7 tips here. http://zenhabits.net/calm/
If you know a lot of positive people, you may think it is easy being happy all the time. It isn’t. It is a conscious decision to be positive or not and sometimes you have to work at it. Feeling happy is the physical result of millions of chemical reactions in the body and it is
powered by positive energy. Try smiling at a stranger as you pass or saying, “Good morning” to someone as you jog by. The positive energy created is palpable as they smile and respond.
As I mentioned previously, exercise raises the endorphins in our body that are our happy hormones. If you are feeling low, simple exercise of any kind can make your spirits lift. I guarantee it works every time.
Another way to feel positive is to become more organized. When you have your life in order you unclutter your mind and can look ahead and make exciting plans for the future. It is a favour you can do for yourself that gives you immense satisfaction.
Here are 14 ways to cultivate positivity in your life. http://www.lifehack.org/284661/14-ways-positive-people-separate-themselves-from-negative-energy
Organize your life.
Being productive is probably one of the most important gifts you can give yourself. If you can accomplish more by getting up earlier or end your day knowing you are caught up, you can’t help feeling great about yourself. The reduced stress will probably add years to your life!
Making a list and checking off the completed tasks is one of the most satisfying things you can do. When you become more organized and productive, you can’t help feeling proud of yourself which fosters self-esteem. Out of that comes self-respect and that, in turn, makes others respect you.
Your dreams and accomplishments are realized from planning the steps to achieve results. You can’t help believing in yourself when you have earned success. Confidence comes from planning, hard work and then giving yourself a pat on the back.
This is a great read about being confident. http://www.lifehack.org/324420/8-mistakes-that-amazingly-confident-people-never-make
Having written all this, I have to be honest and admit that I still don’t love myself. I’m not sure what it really means to do so. I did a meditation years ago where I imagined myself as a child in her most vulnerable state. I was to reach out to that child and tell her I would always have her back. I love that small, innocent version of myself.
As I careen through life I must listen to my inner voice telling me to slow down and enjoy the ride. I am trying to be more organized and I really love my soap in the shower. Hopefully, I will make the time for more baths this year. I am excited about my productivity and success and even have more self-esteem. Maybe if I heed my own advice I will learn to love myself.
For now, I like myself a lot and that’s a start.