Three Ways to Love Yourself This Valentine’s Day

valentines dayValentine’s Day can be difficult for many reasons. For some, it brings about loneliness, sadness, or self-aggression. When this happens, a powerful antidote can be the cultivation of self-love and self-appreciation. Here are a few ways to intimately connect with yourself this Saturday.

  1. Take your inner creative out on a date

In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron offers the concept of the weekly “artist date,” as a crucial part of the creative life. Simply put, we take our inner artist, or our inner child, out on a date by setting some time aside, listening to his/her longings, following them, and having fun! On my first artist’s date, I felt nostalgic for my past home of Valparaiso, Chile. There, on free afternoons, I would often put on headphones and meander through the hilly city, letting my senses guide me to ocean overlooks or hidden pockets of street art. On my date, I decided to bring the ritual to Boulder, and aimlessly wandered the city for hours. I ended up back in front of old houses I had lived in during college—places I hadn’t revisited in many years. I let myself dance with old memories, while connecting with my gratitude for my current stage of life. It was a perfectly intimate and special day I could have only shared with myself. Try, for an afternoon, to touch into that intimacy you have with yourself—with the parts of you that only you can understand. If you are feeling nostalgic, revisit the past through old music, photos, or places. If you are feeling adventurous, try something you never envisioned yourself doing, just for kicks (it could be bungee jumping, but it could also be hanging out in a different part of town, test-driving fancy cars, or trying a spa treatment you’ve never heard of). If your soul is feeling hungry, take in inspiring art, or indulge your senses through a trip through a spice shop or a delicious meal. However you are feeling, have a special experience that only you will understand.

  1. Create a vision board

A vision board is a place for you to gather and clarify what you want to invite into your life. A simple way to start is by hanging up a corkboard (poster board can also work), and perusing magazines, books, or visual websites like Pinterest, paying attention to what images, words, or phrases stand out to you. From there, you cut/print them out and collage them onto your board. It can be difficult for us to know what we want with the next chapter in our lives, and a vision board is a great way to gain understanding of what your soul is longing for—what is to calling you. Vision-boarding is powerful because it puts you in touch with what you really want—a feat that can be difficult when noise from friends, family, and the media seem to want to tell you what you need and crave.

  1. Practice Maitri

Maitri, literally translated as “loving kindness,” is a Buddhist term that often refers to the practice of being unconditionally loving and friendly toward yourself in whatever experience you may be going through. This means that if you are feeling lonely, allow yourself to be lonely, remaining compassionate towards yourself as you have your experience. It means noticing when you want to be angry with yourself for feeling how you are feeling, and choosing to love yourself instead, acknowledging that your feelings are sometimes out of your control. There are times when we receive the message that to achieve happiness, we must transcend negative emotions like anger, jealousy, or fear. Practicing maitri teaches us that these emotions are normal and sane parts of ourselves, and we are whole and loveable, no matter what we feel. Here is a five-minute exercise to help cultivate maitri: Find a comfortable seat, and begin by closing your eyes and noticing your breath. Notice it just as it is, without any need to change it. If you notice your mind drifting away, simply come back to your breath compassionately, without judging yourself. Rest your attention here for a moment. Now scan your body from head to toe, noticing where you may be holding tension or emotion. Take a moment to acknowledge this part of yourself, again, without any need to change it. Let it be just as it is. Imagine that it is a physical mass of energy, and you are able to wrap your arms or a blanket around it to comfort and love it. Ask it if it needs anything else, and imagine yourself giving that thing to it.

Why Writing Down Your Self-Care Plan is Essential to Your Well-Being

 

(Image Credit: http://recoveryaffirmations.tumblr.com/)

(Image Credit: http://recoveryaffirmations.tumblr.com/)

Making room for self care practices is not only helpful, it is an essential part of mental health and wellness. Far too often, when we are in the greatest moments of suffering, we find ourselves more prone to ignoring or harming ourselves rather than loving and nurturing ourselves. Setting the intention to practice self-love and self-care instead of self-neglect or self-harm is a powerful way to build a foundation from which we can heal and thrive.

So why write it down?

Sometimes we need that reassurance that it is OK to put ourselves first, that it is not selfish to take care of ourselves, and that we are worth the time, energy, and money we invest in ourselves. And sometimes that reassurance has to come from within. We have to remind ourselves, over and over, that we are valuable and important. When we put something on paper, we hold ourselves accountable. We make a deal with ourselves that is visible, tangible, and alive in the world outside of our own brains.

Having a tangible plan also makes it way easier to implement, especially in moments of crisis. When we are depressed, panicking, or triggered, the last thing our brains want to do is to try to figure out a way to feel better. If it feels like too daunting a task, that’s because often times, it is. Having a healthy list of options ready to go takes the pressure off of figuring it out in the moment.

Lastly, when we put the intention into writing it down, we can make sure to cover all aspects of self-care so that we achieve a more holistic wellbeing. Does your list include caring practices for your physical, social, emotional, intellectual, creative, sexual, and spiritual selves? If you are not sure what each of these parts of you need to thrive, making a list of possibilities is a way of listening to them.

So get started, and make it fun! Here are some ideas:

  1. Journal (or try an art journal!)
  2. Meditate/pray.
  3. Call _____________________ (list out all the people you can call and talk to, including crisis lines.)
  4. Run/hike/climb/go to the gym/etc.
  5. Drop in to a yoga class, or practice for a few minutes at home.
  6. Take a bath.
  7. Try a guided mindfulness exercise.
  8. Draw, paint, collage, or start another kind of art project.
  9. Go for a walk and take pictures of little inspiring things.
  10. Cuddle with a pet.
  11. Cook a healthy meal.
  12. Listen mindfully to music
  13. Keep a “smile file” online of cute videos and uplifting stories.
  14. Watch a funny movie.
  15. Try engaging your sense of smell with aromatherapy or simply lighting some incense.
  16. Give yourself permission to take a break from thinking about problems, and to let go of what is out of your control.
  17. Clean or organize some part of your home.
  18. Go window shopping.
  19. Curl up with a cup of tea and a good book.
  20. Build a fire.
  21. Pretend it is Thanksgiving and make a list of things you are grateful for.
  22. Ask your inner child what she/he wants to do for fun, and give it a try.
  23. Hang out with friends.
  24. Climb a tree.
  25. Try a small sensory grounding exercise.
  26. Try Aimless Wandering.
  27. Check out some Recovery Affirmations, and consider writing some of your own.
  28. Start a new craft project.
  29. Have compassion for whatever experience you are going through, letting go of judgment of your emotional process.
  30. Remind yourself that everything changes, and whatever is happening will pass.

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Página en español veniendo pronto! Para aprender mas sobre mis servicios, llame (720) 515-5184 o mande un email a rachaeluris@gmail.com.
Rachael Uris, MA, LPC is the owner of Atacama Counseling, LLC, offering sex therapy as well as individual and couple's counseling for issues surrounding sexuality, love, and pregnancy. All services are located in downtown Boulder, Colorado, and are provided in English and Spanish.
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