What better month than February, to take a minute to reflect on how well (or not) you’re loving yourself. Taking care of ourselves and prioritizing our health (both physically and mentally) isn’t selfish, it’s actually essential. Ever heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup?” It’s true, and I’m hoping that after reading along you’ll be able to let go of the guilt, pressure, strive for perfection or whatever else it might be that’s causing you to lack in this area of your love life.
After speaking to women, both young and old, it’s evident that we all struggle with this in some form or another. We have a really hard time at prioritising ourselves while trying to prove and strive and juggle all of the plates. Sound at all relatable? Well, after trying to work on this myself, I’ve found habits and ways of thinking that have helped me start to improve the respect that I have for myself and, in turn, it’s allowing me to start to show myself a little more love.
“We are the girls with anxiety disorders, filled appointment books, five-year plans. We take ourselves very, very seriously. We are the peacemakers, the do-gooders, the givers, the savers. We are on time, overly prepared, well read, and witty, intellectually curious, always moving… We pride ourselves on getting as little sleep as possible and thrive on self-deprivation. We drink coffee, a lot of it. We are relentless, judgmental with ourselves, and forgiving to others. We are the daughters of the feminists who said, “You can be anything,” and we heard, “You have to be everything.” – Courtney E. Martin’s
01. LET GO OF PERFECTION | Yes, we’re starting with this one - let go of perfection. Lets face it, life is chaotic and with social media + this fast paced kinda mentality all around us the word perfection can seem so easy. Just flip through that Insta feed of yours and instantly you’ll find your modern day portrait of a susie-homemaker meets Martha Stewart, meets Oprah, meets Miranda Kerr in one little Insta bundle. But is that real? Is that sustainable? What is reality? It all seems so blurred, if she can do it surely I can. The answer is, perfection doesn’t exist. You don’t have to do everything and be everything for everyone, you can’t. In fact, sometimes the strive for perfection doesn’t come from anyone else, but from ourselves. It can come from a place of lack of confidence or feeling the need to have to justify whatever it is that you’re doing. But as soon as we start letting go of perfection in our lives we will begin to heal. We will begin to prioritize the things that matter and let go of the things that don’t. Start by asking yourself the “why?” behind what you’re filling your time with. Challenge yourself to say yes to the things that matter and no to the things that don’t. Each season of your life will look different to the next, but having a continual conversation and checking in with yourself will help you eliminate the pressure to be perfect.
02. MOVE YOUR BODY | I can’t think of a time that I ever regretted exercising or taking some time to move. I’m always, always better for it. My mind benefits, my lungs benefit, my capacity benefits, it just generally makes me feel better overall. It can be so easy to make this the first cut from the calendar, but if you focus on making space for movement then you’re more likely to prioritise this habit. Choose what time in the day and for how long you can be active. Be realistic about your schedule, your to-dos, and your want-to-dos. You could start with a 10-minute walk around the block a few times a week and over time, increase your efforts. Medical News Today says, “Physical activity can help reduce anxiety, and this benefit can start right after a moderate or vigorous exercise session. Longer term, regular exercise can also help reduce the risk of depression.” Practice your new routine for a week and then take stock asking yourself ‘What’s going well? What’s challenging? Adjust as needed to land on a routine that works for you.
03.TAKE A TIME OUT | This may look different every week. Sometimes it might be heading out to get a coffee on your own, keeping a gratitude journal, flower arranging, running a hot bath, getting that overdue manicure and other times it might be catching up with the girls over a drink. Whatever the case, get better at making some time to get away, some time to lay down the to-do list and do something outside of the house and, if possible, without the children. Start by taking a minute to sit and consider ten things that bring you joy and then start implementing those things in your schedule.
04. HYDRATE | I know what you might be thinking, “water and self care, really!?” It’s true. Part of a healthy habit of self care is taking care of your physical self as well. This one may seem so simple, but it is so crucial. Water is an important element needed to take care of your body, your brain, and to overall being a healthier and happier you. Be intentional about how much you drink, make a goal, set a timer and start making this a habit. Your body will thank you.
“The words you speak become the house you live in.”
05. SELF-RESPECT | I’ve saved the most crucial until last on this one. What you tell yourself is what you start to believe. Our inner dialogue and inner critic can massively shape how we love ourselves. If you are constantly beating yourself up with your thoughts and limitations then that is where you will stay. Did you know that a woman has on average 60,000-80,000 thoughts a day! Imagine how much damage can be done if they are primarily negative? On the flip side, imagine how much love can be shown if they are mostly positive? Let's turn down the volume of critique and amplify the voice that speaks out love and respect. I know this doesn’t come easy, so start by exercising. Practice makes perfect, start by taking some time in the morning to recall the things that you are proud of about yourself. Then as you go throughout your day also battle those negative thoughts that try to creep in with the truth. You are enough. You are worth it. You can and you will.
This is still a work in progress over here, but I now know that without being renewed and squeezing in some time for myself, I will burn out. I have to constantly remind myself that by keeping my cup full, I can then pour into others. If we’re not intentional we can get on the hamster wheel and not know how to make it stop. We just have to remember that if our cup is empty we have nothing to give, but if we’re full then we can give from the overflow.
Let’s make February the month that we start showing the kind of love to ourselves that we so freely give to others. You’ll be thankful and ultimately so will those around you. They’ll get the best version of you, the one who is healthy, confident, capable and ready to be all that she needs for those in her world.