Valentine’s Day is often purely seen as an opportunity to express affection for a significant other. But if we take the emphasis off externalising love and instead internalise it, the day could be much more fruitful for everyone. That’s why in this week’s blog, we’re going to look at how you can make Valentine’s a day of self-love, or more crucially, self-care, regardless of one’s relationship status.
It can be easy to send love to others. But it can be a different story when it comes to ourselves.. The rewards of investing in self-love offer far more potential benefits than focusing your energies (and love) on another person.
The wonderful thing is that there are various evidence-based means to achieve a state of self-love. Read on to learn some valuable and practical ways to fall in love with the most important person in your life, you.
Learn What Self Compassion Is
Self-compassion is offering as much love and kindness to yourself as you would a loved friend. Practising self-compassion is scientifically proven to enhance emotional wellbeing.
Dr Kristin Neff is a pioneer in this research field, and with her colleagues at the University of Texas, are self-compassion experts. If you’ve never explored showing yourself love and kindness, their findings can be transformational.
Neff et al’s work has proven a positive correlation between high self-compassion and positive mental health, lifestyle, and more connectedness with others. Their research shows that self-criticism generates adrenaline and cortisol in the body. When you’re anxious, you feel the adrenaline surges peaking. To counter this, when you treat yourself with kindness, the “mammalian mother care system” activates, which generates oxytocin and opiates.
Living in a state of high self-compassion can help reduce stress and increase calmness. You can enjoy healthier relationships as you find these qualities more easily in yourself.
In addition, you may find yourself less prone to procrastination and more focused and productive.
Practice Self-Compassion Exercises
In her self-compassion workbook, Dr Kristin Neff says, “One of the biggest benefits of self-compassion is that it doesn’t just help you with negative emotions, it actively generates positive emotions.” Dr Neff has developed evidence-based self-compassion exercises. These practical exercises encourage you to show the same compassion to yourself as you would a friend and include:
- Writing exercises to stimulate high self-compassion levels.
- Observing the inner critic
- Identifying what you want from life
A practical way to learn to treat yourself with kindness is to use Dr Neff’s self-compassion exercises.
Practice Yoga and Mindfulness
Another powerful way to practice self-care is to do Yoga and mindfulness. The deep state of relaxation resulting from Yoga and meditation calms the central nervous system and generates wellbeing.
This state of wellbeing is vital for achieving a high state of self-love and self-care. One of the potential benefits of a Yoga asana practice is that understanding your body can help change your relationship with it and yourself. If you’d like to see what Yoga has to offer off the mat, take a look at the eight Limbs of Yoga in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The lifestyle guide offered here promotes Self Compassion amongst other healthy ways to live your life physically, emotionally and spiritually, and can absolutely promote self-compassion.
This is why Yoga teacher training can be so transformative. You don’t necessarily have to want to teach Yoga to train as a teacher. Learning and applying the philosophy and science of Yoga to yourself can bring about a happier, more fulfilled state of being.
Stay Physically Healthy
To feel good about yourself, physical self-care is vital. So ensure you:
- Eat healthily, and drink at least five glasses of water a day. The process of living healthily resets your liver which can help balance the central nervous system.
- Exercise is a wonderful mood booster. Physical exercise gets the heart rate up to boost serotonin and endorphin levels.
- Stretching increases flexibility and releases tension in the body, like an internal massage. Doing just 10 minutes of Yoga can help you feel more love towards yourself.
Be Your Own Date
This Valentine’s, why not plan a date with yourself using the self-care tips we’ve suggested? You could perhaps start the day with a light jog followed by a hot (or cold) shower and a nutritious breakfast.
Using self-compassion exercises, try creating a journal. The great thing about journaling is that you get to observe your thoughts objectively. You can also read back to your earlier thoughts and see your progress.
To keep that self-love momentum, can you explore Yoga practises that connect you with your body, heart and spirit? Yogafurieonline is currently running a series of Valentine’s inspired classes, launching on Feb 9th with a 26 Minute Heart Opening Valentines Glow Flow with Lisa.
And, why not give yourself something really special? Book on to our Cyprus Yoga holiday in September.
So make Valentine’s day a day of feeling good by doing a range of activities that make you feel contented and happy to be alive whether you’re single or not!