Love is demonstrated in a variety of ways with our family, friends, and loved ones, and having a strong sense of belonging is critical to bolstering our self-esteem and maintaining our mental fortitude. But there is one relationship that often goes overlooked and dismissed: Our relationship with ourselves. More often than not, many of us struggle to offer ourselves the same nurture, compassion, and grace that we extend to those around us.
A luxury or necessity?
Imagine a world where self-care didn’t feel like a luxury only afforded to those with time, money, and the bandwidth to make space for themselves – a world where we unselfishly showed up for ourselves daily and intentionally in the ways we do for our families, workplaces, and to-do lists. We can create that world, and we must, because every human being deserves access to expressions of self-love.
Blind urgency and self-sacrifice seem to be societal hallmarks of a “good ______” (mom, employee, brother, friend, etc.), but that narrative shrinks the importance of self-love and its utility in helping us bring our full selves to our world. We are our best when our needs are met, and who knows how to meet those needs better than you? There will always be time restraints, financial limits, and other barriers to treating ourselves the way we deserve, but loving yourself can be simple and attainable.
Get creative with your self-love
Despite media depictions of bubble baths and pedicures, self-love and self-care are as unique as every individual reading this.
- For some of us, spending time alone or in silence translates to engaging in quality time with our bodies and minds, which promotes feelings of calm and reassurance.
- Perhaps some of you, like me, receive a rush of endorphins when physically moving – like dancing or running.
- Affirmations, journaling, and drawing help to improve emotional clarity and strengthen the bond with our own feelings and thoughts.
- Ask yourself what you need to feel loved each day and how you can make it happen. Examples include anything from cooking your favorite meal for yourself, to treating yourself to a small gift, to taking an extra long shower with your favorite soaps/moisturizers. The possibilities are endless.
As we spend this month celebrating love, let us not forget to honor the beauty of self-love and its impact on our individual mental health.
For additional self-love tips see our blog, 10 Ways to Show Yourself Some Love on Valentine’s Day, and if you notice something isn’t quite right while working on self-love, try taking a mental health screen to learn more about what might be bothering you.
Niya McCray-Brown is the community engagement manager at Mental Health America. She is also a licensed professional counselor and mental health advocate, particularly for people of the global majority.