Loving yourself is probably one of the biggest trends around right now. You can seldom open a magazine or scroll through your timeline without someone proselytizing about self-care, usually recommending you purchase a face mask/body scrub/spa package. And while those are all worthwhile things to do (I mean who doesn’t want baby soft skin?) shouldn’t self-care be the demonstration of our love for ourselves, and not centered solely on outward appearance?
Surely self-care is individual to each of us; not just something we do because we read it could be good for us.
I wouldn’t consider myself a self-care guru, but I do know that I am happiest when I make decisions that take my future piece of mind into account. Be that ensuring “future me” gets enough sleep, has something to nourishing to eat or just has time to reflect. But how do we even get to the point where we actually put ourselves first? That our mental state is important enough to affect our decisions without feeling like we are being selfish?
In my experience starts with the simple affirmation that I am enough. Read that again slowly. You are enough. There is no transformation required, no service due to anyone, no sacrifice needed in order to make yourself worthy of your own love. And starting by loving yourself, and remembering it often, will give you all the tools to create a state of mind wherein your choices will advocate on behalf of your own wellbeing.
Acknowledging your worth on a regular basis will change the way you make decisions about everything from the things you eat to the people you allow to surround you. And in doing so, you should start to find yourself able to give freely to others from a place of love, knowing that you will not resent the energy you are putting into serving them. The adage you can’t pour from an empty cup is famous because it’s true. When we are drained, tired and running on empty, every action is a charge to our emotional overdraft. And the only way to repay those debts is to show ourselves love, and take the time to fill up.
I’m going to go through a few things I do to show myself love, or that when I put into practice make me feel like I’ve gotten the love I deserve.
The first and arguably most important step you can take to show yourself, love, is by getting enough rest. Sleep is often the thing that first goes out of the window when life gets busy.
We are running around trying to be everything to everyone, or worse still, trying to “improve” ourselves. (Skip back to the top quickly – you are enough). The idea that we must get up at the crack of dawn and work out, journal, or practice headstands because a particularly gifted person has told us that this is how they managed to become a success, is ridiculous. The wee hours of the morning are fabulous for your productivity if you are well rested. If not, you’d do better to spend those productive hours getting some extra winks. Of course, that’s easy to say but if you’re anything like me, getting sufficient sleep is really hard. I am constantly trying to learn more, do more, and earn more but eventually, this attitude always leads me to burn out. It can be really tough to say no to doing fun things or earning extra cash, but I honestly never feel better than after a week of several nights of good sleep. So set yourself a date with your bed, get there on time, freshly washed with clean linen and enjoy a good snooze.
Another practice I love, that makes me feel really good about myself that not saves me time during the week, but also saves me money, is cooking for myself, specifically in the form of meal prepping. If you follow me on Instagram I often story the process, and may even dedicate a highlight to it. I first learned about meal prepping from a personal trainer I had some years ago.
The premise, in the context of dieting, is that if you take away the stress of making a decision about what you are going to eat, you’re more likely to eat according to plan. This takes away the risk of straying from whatever caloric goal you may be working towards. But I’ve found that meal prepping is useful for much more than for just controlling my calorie intake. I am often guilty of letting myself get so busy that I forget to eat regularly, and getting so hungry that I can’t decide what to eat. Ending up feeling truly stressed by it all I then want to eat something comforting which is at best pricey and at worst woefully unwholesome. By deciding ahead of time what food I will eat during the week, I can save myself at least 30-60 minutes and at least £5 on a shop-bought meal every day! This feels like love to me as “future me” can spend her lunch break walking, reading (or more likely, scrolling) instead of wandering around trying to decide what overpriced, purportedly healthful, and yet somehow almost always disappointing lunch I can find during my small respite from my laptop.
This isn’t to say I meal prep religiously but when I do I am thankful to myself for having the foresight to prevent the inevitable lunchtime meltdown. It also means that lunch out feels more like a reward when I have them. I usually prep on a Sunday or a Monday, and quietly pat myself for the rest of the week.
Finally, I like to ensure that my emotional cup is filled by spending a few moments each week doing something just for me. If you’re anything like me, a free evening or weekend is almost unheard of, and when you do get one you wonder why you’d never planned a 3-day solo sleepover in your own house before. Now I’m far from an introvert, but spending time alone is a great way to check in with ourselves and consider moments from our day to day lives. From taking a long stroll on my own, to taking myself out on a date, or even just spending a bit of time in quiet reflection, spending time alone is a great way for me to focus on how I feel and where I need to course-correct to ensure I can give myself, and those in my life, my best. Some fun things I’ve done in the sake of me-time include going to see a play alone, going on a solo trip, and going to a new workout. Though surrounded by people, doing those things alone gave me time to think about how I react to things without outside influence.
Of course, I also enjoy doing all these things with my friends, but there is something extra special about basking in your own company. And you don’t even need to go anywhere to spend time with yourself. Some of the best time I have spent with myself has been with a notebook and a mellow playlist, spilling my thoughts across a page or two. And probably plotting world domination.
Time alone gives clarity. By letting your mind wander you let your subconscious brain problem-solve on your behalf, and also give yourself a rest from being the person you are to everyone else. It also means that when you are with people again, you should feel more energized and able to be your best version of you when you’re with them.
So there you have it. Three really simple things you can do to make “future you” want to kiss “past you” (in the least narcissistic way possible!). A routine of self-love that that only includes face masks if you really want to.
You can connect (and should ;) with Lauren via her Insta @mizzbusby.