It’s really interesting that, as a seasoned yoga instructor, I preach “love for one’s self” in every class, yet personally I find it so hard to do. Whether it’s the practice of non-judgement, or resting in the posture child’s pose or keeping the mind free of chatter while centering in savasana at the end of class, I encourage my students to find the freedom of just “being” and love and respect themselves “as is” in that moment– body, mind and soul.
The second we roll up our mats and exit the room, it’s rare that anyone stays to introspect or engage in a conversation with a fellow classmate or instructor to reflect or discuss their experience in self-love. It’s “life as usual”– rush off to what’s next on the docket– straight to our phones to see what email or, more often, what texts we missed. A focus always external.
The message of self-love or self-care seems to be lost.
Now, I am sure some of you reading this are perfect yogis and use each practice to its fullest. Congrats and Namaste! But, for most of us, myself included, once class is over, it’s welcome back to the real world. Self-love and self-care are last on the list. Long displaced by families, jobs, and, the list goes on of things that take precedent.
So, in light of the month of love… Valentine’s Day… I think it’s a great opportunity to think about how we can incorporate self-love or self-care into our daily lives. It’s not easy. Especially for women who are natural caretakers. Taking care of ourselves often feel internally shameful or selfish. And no wonder! The Miriam Webster Dictionary says the definition of Self-Love is:
Given this definition, self-love has been seen as a sign of being self-centered or conceited. Really? Back to my go-to mantra from yoga class, “If you don’t take care of yourself, there is nothing left to give to others“.
If you don’t take care of yourself, there is nothing left to give others
Here are some great ways you can show yourself a little love without shame. Even if you take away just one idea to use in your daily life, that is one idea that wasn’t there before. Acknowledge, I am not a fan of “30 Day Challenges” but I don’t mind a little internal competition with myself once and a while. So to practice what I preach, I am going to take on a personal self-love challenge. And I invite you to join me. Don’t worry, no online group chats or check-ins or anything… I challenge you to pick one or many of the below tips and create an opportunity to take care of number one–YOU! If you miss a day, well who cares!?! Self love challenge number one is to take that yogic practice of “non-judgement” and say to yourself, “I may have missed yesterday but today I am on it!”
- Practice Non-Judgement: We are human, imperfect beings, with chaotic lives and capped time in each and every day. If you are not checking all the boxes on your daily list or miss one, even if you say, “I just don’t want to deal with that right now,” –it’s ok! The list will be there tomorrow.
- Begin your day with Gratitude: Find one thing to be grateful for first thing in the morning. Even if it is “I got out of bed”. Write a visible reminder. A note or sign on your mirror or get a pretty piece of art to put in your bathroom that reminds you every day to be grateful. Here are some examples from Etsy.com. I know this sounds cheesy but it works. If you appreciate one thing in your life as you begin your day, you will start your day off on the positive with a high vibrations. When you start the day feeling grateful or blesses you can be more resourceful than you ever imagined. Try it! Listen to this Ted Talk with David Steindle-Rast, it is a great reminder of the power of gratitude.
- Breath: What? I know you’re thinking, “I am breathing every second of every day! Now, I need to focus on that too?” No, not exactly. The average person takes 14-16 breath cycles in one minute. That is a lot! If you take 60 seconds to stop and deep breath, slow down, you can get to a 6-8 breath cycle without huge effort. I’m not saying you need to dedicate 30 minutes to meditative breathing– although if you can, power to you. The power of meditation is scientifically proven to decrease stress/anxiety, improve sleep, and many other important things. If you can even take just two minutes, maybe even while you are driving, to practice the one minute breath test, you are practicing meditation. Breath Test: time and count one minute of your natural breathing cycle (inhale and exhale). Then repeat with an intentional awareness to slowing down and deepening through cycle. Deeper inhalations and loner exhalations. Recount the breath cycles. How much did you lower the number of cycles?
- Have a genuine talk with your partner or friend in your life: It is as simple as this. Sometimes just getting things out in words is all you need to process things in may be holding inside. Your partner and friend will hopefully just listen and let you purge. If you are seeking advice, ask for it. Be prepared for their perspective of the matter. If you’re not, it may be helpful to just start by saying, “I just need to get this out of my head. No advice needed so thank you for listening… I call it talk to think.”
- Laugh: Whether you log onto YouTube and watch a funny skit or laugh at something silly you or someone did that day, truly laugh. The endorphins released through laughter are impactful. And the phycology of laughing at yourself is releasing. Laughter relaxes the body, boosts the immune system, protects the heart and burns calories. The ability to humbly laugh at yourself is often well received and can break down barriers that aid in human connections. Why wouldn’t we laugh more?
- Move: Yeah, yeah, this is a fitness website. I am aware. But chances are if you are a FitScene follower you are a fitness enthusiast like me. But seriously, get out and move. It doesn’t have to be a high-intensity spin class. Even walking your dog or taking the stairs at work can be invigorating to your spirit. Again, the endorphins released through movement are not just important for physical fitness but also for psychological fitness. The guilt that we put on ourselves for not making an effort to move or “being lazy” is actually counter- productive to overall fitness. We tend to say justify our “lack of effort or motivation” to “why try, I know I will just fail”. But if you just move with intention one time during the day, psychologically we “did” something. This is an unconscious win, even if we deem it not to be up to the standard of what we think we should be doing physically.
- Sleep: The new standard for how much we should sleep each night is now 7-9 hours. Where in the world will we find the time? In 2015, the National Sleep Foundation changed the sleep per day range standards for adults ages 26-64, from 6-8 hours per day to 7-9 hours a day. This is the first time they have released age-specific recommendations. For other age range recommendations click here. So, that nap you are thinking about…? Justified!
- Say “No”: This seems like an obvious. But, for most people saying “no” is the hardest thing to do. We say yes, then create and live in undo stress before we actually do it. In our guts we know we should have said no in the first place. As a result, often we then go into the said “yes event” with preconceived ideas of how it will be. Beginning an experience from a negative mindset is a precursor for disaster and failure. This cycle of saying yes when we really mean no is just a waste of time and energy. Unless you are actively trying to get outside of your comfort zone or make personal growth happen in areas you have been avoiding, sometimes saying no can be the best self-love you can practice. Instead try doing something you love to do and entering that experience from a positive mindset. You have one life that we know about on this planet. Make the best of each day, right?
These are not rocket science techniques for personal growth but rather suggestions of ways you can live your best life and show some love to the person you spend every second of the day with… YOU!
Now, Love You Up!