Hopeless romantic? Yes. Chick-flick binger? Obviously. Date night obsessed? Need you even ask? The answers to these questions may differ between each person, but no matter who you are or what you do, there's love in all of us. It's what we need to survive, it's the reason behind most stories we're told and songs we hear. It's what makes us human. (That got deep fast!) But the thing is, love comes from many different places and is shared between many different people. While there is no doubt that I love love and will tear up at the slightest sign of romance, I wanted to talk about a different aspect of love in this post. Forgetting, just for a moment, about the chocolates and the teddy bears that are passed between lovers on Valentines Day, or the 'his and her' Valentines gift guides found everywhere online, to focusing on what we sometimes (or often) forget: self-love.
Two little words, that when placed together, have the ability to either make or break a person. If that's true, it must be an incredibly important form of love - as it goes, in order to love another, you must first love yourself...
To be clear, self-love isn't self-obsession or vanity. Those two traits are not exactly key for good relationships (well, maybe it works for other people - I'm no relationship expert). When I think of self-love, a term that is equally frightening and beautiful at once, I imagine being happy in yourself, in spending time alone, doing things you love, looking after your health (physical and mental), creating a space of positivity that follows you wherever you go. I imagine being completely at peace with who you are, but also allowing yourself to accept your downfalls without punishing yourself afterwards.
With the day of love looming (like, tomorrow!) I wanted to put a spin on the conventional celebrated love. So, with that in mind, here are six things I like to do to maintain a sense of self-love.
1. Taking bubble baths and doing face masks
Such a cliche this one is! But I really love a good pamper session. I'm grateful that I am able to do these things, because they absolutely make me feel calmer and more at peace. It doesn't even need to be a bubble bath - just a normal one is something I always look forward to. Whether I take a book to read or just simply enjoy the warm water and the feeling of a mask, bath time is a huge 'me time' occasion.
2. Visiting coffee shops and bookstores
I could go to a coffee shop by myself easily, and sit there while my mind wanders. I can do the same thing in bookshops. Spending hours paging through books and taking in that new-book smell. It's the simple pleasures that make my heart content.
3. Journaling or writing poetry
I fall in and out with these two unfortunately. They are two of my biggest loves and yet they are the hardest ones to keep up. Scarily, they are the most important in my own self-love journey though, and that's probably why I struggle with keeping them consistent. I feel so happy when I journal or write a poem, that I often think 'how can I forget to do this everyday?'. They are both amazingly therapeutic, and when I do manage to get into a pattern I can feel how much more centred I am. Especially with journaling, because that really brings you face to face with what you're feeling (which I think is needed if you're going to grow in self-love!)
4. Watching movies or series
I definitely couldn't leave this one out, though I suppose it's not a typical self-love activity.. or maybe it is? Either way, it's on my list! I don't spend a lot of time watching tv, so when I do I want to watch something that I'm really going to enjoy and that will allow me to relax completely. This is why I mostly opt for romantic comedies or animations and the likes. When I sit down to watch a cute movie or series, I can feel my whole body unwind and I just feel happy. That's the simplest way to put it. And adding a bowl of popcorn takes that pleasure to a whole new level!
5. Smelling the roses (literally)
I love flowers. Really, really, really love them. Having a vase of flowers in my room or on my desk is something that genuinely excites me. When I walk into a room and I see the stunning, vibrant colours and I smell the different scents, life seems more positive - crazy! But true. Seeing such beauty around me instantly makes me appreciate life.
6. Allowing myself to feel
This could appear a little abstract at first, seeing as there's so many feelings and sensations, and I could be talking about anything! However, I'm merely speaking about giving myself a chance to work through my emotions. There's no point in getting upset because you're feeling upset in the first place (does that make sense? In my head it does!) Giving myself the time to properly feel what's going on requires me to practise patience with myself - which I still have to do, again and again. I'm also not saying though to keep yourself sad constantly, that's not wise. But rather to give yourself the time to work through the sadness you feel, or the excitement, nostalgia, happiness, etc, and just accept that emotion. With this allowance to feel, comes the responsibility to keep moving forward - something I struggle with, but continually work on. And through that I'm able to keep on loving myself.
When you sit back for a while and think about how you look after yourself, you begin to realise that it doesn't take much to love yourself. Kind words, positive thoughts, animal cuddles, bubble baths, candles - whatever it is that puts you 100% in touch with yourself is what you must do more of.
I hope this post gives you a slightly different perspective to what 'love' is, or what it doesn't have to always be. Don't get me wrong, I'm all in for a cute date and a bunch of flowers! But I have to love who I am too and be kind to myself, as well as my significant other.
What are your self-love ideas?