We’re often told to love ourselves. After all, we can’t truly love anyone else until we love ourselves, and unconditional love of other people is another one of our collective goals. But love can feel difficult. On days when you are worn out by the critical voice in your head or the demands of your day, self-love can feel like an impossible request. Love? I cannot even find the energy to like myself today.
Kindness is a much more manageable task. Kindness is small. It doesn’t have the all encompassing, forgiving demands of love. Kindness is a smile, holding the door a little longer, welcoming someone with genuine joy, and asking about his or her day with authentic interest. If there is a clear path to love, then it is definitely paved with kindness. What if learning self-love is not a sudden epiphany, and is instead a culmination of days spent being exquisitely kind? Here’s how you can spend a day being kind to yourself.
Avoid social media and email first thing in the morning
The online world is a noisy one. Don’t start your day by immersing yourself in all of that confusion. Spend a few moments in quiet reflection. Walk. Journal. Meditate. Just lie in your bed quietly and relish all the good events from yesterday and all the possibilities for good today. If you have to set your alarm for a little earlier so you have at least five minutes to yourself in the morning, then do so. You can carry that peace with you for the rest of the day.
Don’t wear makeup
There is nothing wrong with makeup, and you can wear as much or as little as you want whenever you want. But there is incredible freedom to be found in feeling just as comfortable in your skin when you’re barefaced as you do when you’re wearing makeup. Spend a day feeling complete just as you are.
Move your body
Move your body in whatever way feels good to you. Today, don’t train for a marathon or do a hundred sit-ups in the hopes of getting a six-pack. Don’t exercise to punish your body. Instead, celebrate it. If that means doing a few interpretative dance moves in your room or ninety minutes of yoga, embrace it. Just don’t do it if it doesn’t make you feel good.
Give up on the never-ending quest to be (physically) beautiful
This is not to say that you shouldn’t feel beautiful. You can feel radiant and exquisite and gorgeous, but it’s okay to not associate any of those truths about who you are with the way that you look. You are more than your body, the symmetry of your face, or the gap (or lack of one) between your thighs. To be a human being in this world is difficult, but it is especially difficult for women, who are taught right from the get go that their worth is intrinsically tied to their looks. Reject that harmful teaching. For just one day, celebrate who you are separate from what you look like.
Take the time to cook good meals
Often, we think of indulgence in terms of a tub of Ben and Jerry’s or an entire pizza. But true indulgence is taking the time to properly nourish your body. Today, you are not too busy to experiment in the kitchen, to wander the aisles of the grocery store finding specific ingredients for a complicated recipe, or to savor every single bite.
Read only uplifting news
Have you ever thought about how the things you read and watch affect you as much as the food you consume? The media shares predominately bad news because terrible events are the anomaly. It is easier to share the ten things that went wrong today instead of the fifty thousand that went right. Don’t watch or read negative news. Step off the emotional roller coaster.
Treat your brain like a sacred space
This means you don’t read or watch depressing content, but it also means you monitor the content of your thoughts. Think of your mind as a serene, beautiful garden. You want those flowers to bloom; you don’t want to trample all over them with dirty feet. When negative thoughts about your body, the world, or other people try to enter into the Zen garden that is your brain, simply say: “You are not welcome here.”
Spend intentional time with people who inspire you
And tell them how grateful you are for their presence in your life. Just expressing gratitude can make you feel happier. By surrounding yourself with people who you admire, respect, and love, you are performing a kindness to yourself. Whenever I think about how wonderful some of the people I know are, I also think that I must be pretty wonderful, too.
Ultimately, being kind to yourself is about recognizing that you are worth your time. You don’t have to rush through life or your days, frantically trying to complete the next task. If you make the place inside your head a welcoming one, you will want to slow down and enjoy each moment you get to experience. Be kind to yourself even on the days when love seems like too much to ask.
Photo Credit: eflon