It’s February, and the common theme of this month always seems to be love… There are many ways to love and be loved, and for this blog I want to focus on love of self. This is a topic I know well, as I have experienced nearly every surface of this seemingly endless sided phenomenon. I will write more about my story of discovering and developing self-love next month, so for now I will simply share what self-love is, why it is important, and some strategies that work for myself and others.
Self-love and Self-esteem: An Important Difference
Understanding the difference between Self-love and Self-esteem is important to impart if this concept is new to you. Self-love is defined as, “regard for one’s own well-being and happiness,” while self-esteem is defined as, “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect.” There are a few key points to distinguish these differences.
Self-love specifies taking action to create states of ease and joy for oneself, while self-esteem is more how we feel about ourselves and is not necessarily tied to bettering ourselves. Self-love is an internal process of acceptance and improvement of self, while self-esteem is often influenced from external forces and based upon perceptions we formulate others have about us. The correlation between self-love and self-esteem may be present, but ultimately there has been research showing self-love is better for managing one’s health while self-esteem can have the opposite effect.
Heidi Grant wrote an article for The Harvard Business Review in 2012 about self-esteem and self-compassion (aka self-love). Through analysis of much of the literature about self-esteem, Grant explained that there is no evidence high self-esteem has any correlation to personal success. In fact, focusing on self-esteem diverts people from reflecting on their truth, and ultimately leads to a false understanding of self. Self-compassion, on the other hand, is about reflecting and growing from mistakes as well as harnessing and expanding upon practices that serve us in the best way. Self-love is something both Dr. Mel and myself have fully embraced to help us perform at our fullest potential.
How do I Love Myself?
Self-love can take many forms. Below is a list of some of my go to ways of practicing self-love on a daily basis.
- Reflection is my number one form of self-love. I make a goal to write a page every day to fully grasp where I can better myself. Some things I write down include:
- Positive and negative daily experiences and how they affect me
- Aspects of relationships that are working, as well as what must change
- Lyrics to my favorite songs to understand them deeper
- Meals. If you have met me, you know that food is my favorite thing on this planet. I practice self-love with food by eating healthy foods each day. Nourishment of body and brain helps us to operate at our best. Some of my guidelines when it comes to food are:
- Fruits and vegetables are the base of my diet. I make a smoothie everyday with raw veggies and fruit that fuel me.
- Healthy fats. Avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, eggs, olives, lamb and salmon are some of my favorite sources of fats.
- I often cycle weeks where I do eat meat followed by a week where I do not eat meat. Not for any particular reason, just because I like to switch things up.
- If you ever have questions about what I eat, or want to have an enthusiastic conversation about food, let me know!
- Movement. I usually exercise at least 3 days a week, and on days I do not exercise I make a point to go for walks, stretch, and be mindful of how my body feels. The human body is made to move, so I honor mine by doing just that! I enjoy doing different forms of exercise depending on the season, for example:
- In the winter, I like to play hockey outside and weightlift in the gym.
- In the summer, I enjoy golfing and going on long bike rides.
- I love hiking, dancing, and doing yoga when in the right environments
- Ultimately, it comes down to doing things you ENJOY that keep you moving!
- Mindfulness. It has become a bit of a buzzword lately, but practicing mindfulness is an exceptional form of self-love. Understanding who we are, where we are, and how those two entities combine to the moment we are in helps us gain perspective on what to do next to better ourselves. Here are some of my favorite mindfulness practices:
- Sit in stillness each morning and just be present. Focus on breathing in the moment and setting intentions for the day.
- Hot/cold therapy. I am privileged to be a member at a gym that has a sauna, and twice a week I will go in the sauna followed by a cold shower. I usually do 10 minutes in the sauna followed by a 1-minute cold shower, and repeat that 3 or more times. Doing hot/cold therapy has been shown to be beneficial for the circulatory system, especially the movement of lymph fluid to excrete toxins from the body.
- When emotions run high, take a step back and observe your situation from an outside perspective. Contemplate what advice you might give to someone in your situation or think about how different decisions in the moment may play out. This helps us calm down and think rationally before making a decision of any magnitude.
- Network Spinal Chiropractic Care. I get my nervous system checked twice a week at Inspire Life to ensure my body is functioning at its highest potential.
As you can see, self-love is something I take seriously and do frequently. One thing that helps me make sure I am caring for myself properly is scheduling it in to my week. I block out certain times on certain days to exercise, sauna, journal, cook, and be present with myself. In such a fast-paced society, it can be tough to validate taking time for yourself. However, if you do not consciously take time for yourself, your decisions may end up taking time from you in the long run. We are gifted one body in this existence, and we must prioritize taking care of it so we can be at our highest potential for ourselves, our families, the community, and the entire planet.