So, here we are, It’s February – our windowsills and the trees outside are still veiled in ice. The days are still long, and dark, and cold, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays have come to an end. February, though, is a transitional month. There is change in the air this time of year with the tail of New Year’s resolutions becoming settled into our daily routines. The Groundhog day tradition brings hope of warmer, sunnier days, and the promise that Spring is almost here.
Around this time of year, Valentine’s Day often takes precedence in our minds, our plans, and on store shelves. We are called to share with our loved ones what makes them important to us, and tending to our own self-love often falls by the wayside. Everyone needs love and acceptance, and you probably focus a lot of your energy on loving other people. You are good to your parents, good to your siblings, and good to your friends. But are you good to yourself? From where do you recieve love? Certainly, a lot comes from your inner circle of friends and family, but consider the amount of time you spend with yourself. You are always with yourself – every day you look in the mirror to see you, and every day you listen to the voice inside your head. What relationship are you building with yourself? Are you comparing yourself to classmates and people you follow on Instagram? Are you expecting yourself to be perfect, rather than allowing yourself to be human?
It’s okay. At times we all:
- Beat ourselves up with cruel self-talk
- Set ourselves up for failure with unrealistic expectations
- Deprive ourselves of things we deserve through self-sabotaging behaviours
- Neglect, or make harmful choices for our bodies
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Self-love is important in order to live well, so we need to recognize how these behaviors wreak havoc on our mental and physical health, our relationships, and our academics. The most important decision of your life, the one that will affect every other decision you make, is the commitment to love and accept yourself. Fostering stronger self-love starts with you. Here are some ways to get you started:
- Use self-talk to encourage yourself and train your mind to be more positive. Allow yourself to make mistakes and focus on your desire to learn and grow. When you’re being self-critical, take notice and make a change. Instead of saying “I’m not good enough” or “I’ll never get this right” try, “I am doing the best that I can and that is all I can do.”
- Nourish your body. Eat homemade meals composed of whole, real ingredients. Drink enough water and give your body the rest it needs.
- Set boundaries. Learn to say no, and in turn, show respect for yourself by standing up for your beliefs and your time limitations.
- Get comfortable with “me time.” Spend a bit of quality, connected, intentional time alone, not watching TV or browsing social media. Focus inward, and grow a better understanding of what you feel, desire, and believe in.
- Be kind to yourself. Live in appreciation for your unique talents and your incredible, curious, brain.
- Start your day with gratitude. Instead of comparing yourself to others and wishing for something you don’t have, be thankful for all that you do have.
- Be yourself, unapologetically. Without seeking permission or acceptance from anyone, practice living your life as fully and as intentionally as possible, as the person you are right now.
It’s perfectly fitting that the word February actually comes from the Latin word februare which means “to purify.” How invigorating, that this month is devoted to the process of cleansing and refinement. This month, we get a glimpse into the Spring – the snow will melt soon, and the days will become longer and sunnier, clearing the Earth for a season of new growth. Keep this in the back of your mind as you carry forward with your day-to-day in the next coming weeks, especially as we gear up to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Find us on Facebook and share with us what you do to foster self-love. Use these tips as a guide to release self-neglect and negative behaviours. Cleanse your mind of negative self-talk and refine your self-care practices. Accept yourself as who you are, right now, in this moment. Begin to love yourself in action.