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Cultivate Self Love

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s highly unlikely you’ve avoided the aisles of pink, chocolate, and stuffed animals dotting the shelves of grocery stores and drugstores. Love is on everybody’s mind this time of year, and regardless of how you feel about the pink stuffed animals, one fact remains: love is an important aspect of our lives. And while V-Day focuses on one specific type of love – the romantic love between partners – there is another type that is even more important than that: self-love. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Before we are partnered up with another person, it’s just us. We’re on our own, learning how to live and figuring out what we want from life. Our most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves, so it’s important we nurture that before we can focus on someone else. So this Valentine’s Day, in between rolling your eyes at all the sap and indulging in your favorite chocolate, take some time to cultivate a little self-love:

    Take care of yourself.

    This is a no-brainer. When you take care of your basic needs, not only do you feel better, you are in a position to be a better friend, wife, mother, girlfriend, etc. Get some exercise. Have a healthy, well-balanced diet. Engage in healthy social interactions. Taking care of oneself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. You wouldn’t deny your partner or a friend any of the above, right? Don’t deny yourself, either.

    Set boundaries.

    As women, we have a hard time saying no when someone asks a favor of us. And while there’s no harm in granting anyone a favor, or agreeing to commit to something, we do run the risk of over-extending ourselves if we don’t learn how to say no – and mean it. Loading too much onto our plates elevates our stress, and we know the impact stress can have if not managed: we get irritable, fatigued, unhappy, and we’re not fully present in our relationships. Saying no doesn’t make us cruel. Knowing when and where to draw the line ensures that we can give the best of ourselves to our commitments and relationships.

    Forgive yourself.

    Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is the one staring back at you in the mirror. We’re human; we will inevitably make mistakes. We’ll let our friends and family down. We’ll let our partners down. We’ll let ourselves down. When this happens, it’s important to not beat ourselves up, but to accept responsibility for our shortcomings, learn from our mistakes, ask forgiveness from those who we’ve hurt, and remember to forgive ourselves. There is no greater expression of love than that.

    If you’d like even more ideas on how to cultivate self-love, you can read the full list from Psychology Today here. Happy Valentine’s Day, you inspiring, gorgeous women!