It’s February, the month of love. You're totally focused on the amazing relationships that you have with your loved ones. This Valentine's Day, however, I'm asking you to do something different. I'm asking you to turn the attention inward - on you.
You may think it's selfish, but love that you have for yourself influences everything in your life – the quality of all of your relationships, the image you project at work, and how you cope with stresses. Make this Valentine’s Day one to remember by taking the plunge and falling deeply in love with yourself through these ten practices.
1. Live with intention. This purpose or intention doesn’t have to be super clear, it just has to be extremely meaningful to you. For example, it could be as general as staying healthy and happy or as specific as running the Boston Marathon. Once you have created your intention, you will make both subconscious and conscious decisions that support your intention.
2. Focus on your long term goals rather than your short term desires. Have you ever eaten a bunch of junk food and then followed it with a big dose of regret and guilt? These frustrating moments are caused by the blinding effect that temporary stimulation and satisfaction has over your long term intentions and goals. By clearly identifying your intentions and making small steps towards this intention everyday, you will slowly put an end to these automatic behavior patterns that inhibit self love.
3. Practice good self-care. Taking care of your basic needs, such as food, exercise and sleep is absolutely foundational for self love. For an extra boost, try foods that contain a high concentration of tryptophan – the precursor to the “feel good” neurotransmitter called serotonin in the brain – such as whole milk, yogurt, kefir and cheese, free range turkey and poultry, wild fish and beans should be regulars in your diet. As for exercise, you’re not only getting a rockin’ body - you’re also getting the release of “feel-good” hormones, including serotonin and dopamine. Just 15 to 20 minutes of moving and grooving is enough to boost your mood for the day. Finally, if you wake up feeling groggy and are tired throughout the day, you may want to reassess your sleep health. Avoiding electronics the hour before bed and dimming the lights after sunset are two ways to drastically improve the quality of your sleep.
4. Go towards the light. Exposure to bright light everyday is key to feeling amazing. Sun light is the best form so ensure that you show some skin when out in the sun for 20 minutes a day. (Any more, and you’d best be layering on the sunscreen.)
5. Revamp your social world. You know those people that rub you the wrong way or make you feel bad about yourself? Today is the day that you make the commitment to do something about it. You have two options: Lay it on the line and have a truly authentic conversation with this person about how they make you feel; or cut them loose by avoiding communication with them, even if it means making a few sacrifices.
6. Stop comparing yourself to others. Seriously. Comparing yourself to others is the biggest waste of mental space, yet one of the hardest feats imaginable to stop. But true self love comes from within and NEVER from looking good to other people or from having the most impressive material objects.
7. Compliment yourself and smile in the mirror everyday. This may sound a bit cheesy, but it works like a charm. Examples include “your look so good when you smile,” “you have beautiful eyes,” or ” damn, look at those curves.” Keep doing this and you will notice a massive shift in your attitude towards yourself.
8. Treat yourself. It could be as simple as scheduling a massage, buying a new sweater, making a delicious meal, or finally scheduling a vacation. Whatever it is, make it something that you would absolutely love for a gift from a friend or loved one. Tell yourself that you deserve it.
9. See mistakes as lessons. Making mistakes is a part of life and the best way to learn anything, so stop beating yourself up! Seriously. Learn from it, let it go and move onto bigger and better things.
10. Practice self love meditation everyday. Before you get out of bed and when you rest your head on your pillow at night, practice self love meditation for at least a couple of minutes. Breathing deeply through your nose, inhale love and joy and exhale any negative thoughts or energy that is inhibiting self love.