LIFE

Self love at Valentines

MEL NOAKES
The Self Care Coach

It’s the season of love, romance, roses and chocolates and all things of the heart, yet the greatest love of all (sorry, you can’t not quote Whitney right?!) seems so elusive for so many of us.  Why is it that we can extend love and kindness to others, yet the way we treat ourselves can be so downright mean?

Some factors indicate that stress (Darley & Batson, 1973) can cause our internal system to shift to the flight or fight mode and in doing so shuts down our capacity for compassion. There’s also evidence to suggest that unhappiness with ourselves is often linked to ‘rumination over past events’ (Derren Brown, 2017).

So I’m sharing this craaaazy suggestion, that instead of loving everyone else this valentines day, you show yourself some compassion first and practice self-love.  I recently shared my 30 Days of Self-Care challenge on Instagram in a bid to start the new inspiring other people to practice self care.  Not just in the fluffy ‘bath and bubbles’ way, although that has its place, but in a way that truly nourished them and inspired daily acts of kindness towards themselves.

And as a gift from me to you this valentines day, here are 5 of my personal favourite acts of daily kindness:

Love yourself and the rest will follow

Photograph by the incredible Lucy Williams via My Heart Skipped 

“This valentines day start a lifelong romance with yourself”

1.  Say no to say yes

It’s common place to say yes to everyone else and put yourself at the bottom of the list.  But in saying ‘yes’ to everyone else, you say ‘no’ to your own health and wellbeing.  Reappraise the word ‘no’ and see it as the gateway to saying yes to things that nourish you.

2.  Move your body in a way that feels good

Don’t like running or the gym?  No problem!  Movement is all about finding something you enjoy – that could be rock climbing, ice skating, dancing, walking, hiking, hoovering and almost anything else you can imagine.  Get your pulse racing a few times a week and build in some strength training and you’ll likely enjoy a longer healthier life.

3. Practice gratitude

There is good in every single day if you look for it.  It can be hard to focus on the good stuff when we’re trained to focus on the bad and newspapers and news reports sell cynicism.  But practising gratitude helps you stay connected to the positive.  You could use a diary or a gratitude jar or simply meditate and give thanks.

4.  Meditate

A recent study suggests that our capacity for compassion can be increased by only eight weeks of meditation (Condon, Desbordes, Miller, & DeSteno, 2013).  Not only that it activates our parasympathetic nervous system which creates a sense of relaxation.  This lovely infographic also explains the science in a really easy to read way.

5.  Nourish yourself

Nourishment as a concept has been limited to food in recent times, but it’s such a broad and varied concept.  Consider nourishment to be anything you feed your mind, body or soul with.  That could be books you read, friends you spend time with, time in the sunshine, social media activities, exercise, personal development.  Choose nourishment over punishment as much as you can.  Read this blog I wrote on the topic for more advice.

When in doubt, choose love.

Photograph by Roman Kraft via Unsplash

What act of love and kindness will you nourish yourself with this Valentines day?  Let me know in the comments below so you can share the love and be inspired.

The best comment will be rewarded with a special valentines gift from me!

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