Find out why you need to put your own happiness and wellbeing first this month, and how to can practise self-love (without guilt!).
So here we are in February, the month of love. But this year, we have a challenge for you: don’t wait until Valentine’s Day to shower your partner with affection and appreciation. Instead find a way every day to love, honour and respect another important person in your life – you!
Why are we asking you to do this? There are lots of very good reasons, but let’s start with the biggest: we’re not very good at putting ourselves first.
We’re more comfortable caring for others
Women – especially mums – are much more comfortable and used to caring for the needs of others, without considering what they need to stay happy and healthy. And if we do take time to do something we want, we feel selfish or guilty.
But, as honourable as this may feel, it’s not good for you or your family. Because if you don’t make sure that your emotional and physical needs are met, you won’t have the personal resources to ensure you’re the best mother, partner, daughter, friend, neighbour or employee that you can be.
Put simply, if YOU are happy, you’ll make the world around you happy too. But if you are miserable, unwell and depleted of resources, you’ll turn your world into a reflection of that instead. As Buddha says, “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”
Not convinced yet? Find out why Michelle Obama makes herself her first priority and read 12 reasons why women who do so are happier.
Good mental health starts with self-care
And if you needed any more convincing that it’s NOT selfish to take care of your needs, here are the Mental Health Foundation’s 10 tips for caring for your mental health:
- Talk about your feelings
- Keep active
- Eat well
- Drink sensibly
- Keep in touch with friends and family
- Ask for help
- Take a break
- Do something you’re good at
- Accept who you are
- Care for others
As you can see, caring for others is on the list, and we’re not suggesting that you stop doing so. But there are nine other suggestions that have equal importance – and we are suggesting that you make time to give them priority this month too, if you don’t already.
Put on your oxygen mask first
If you need an analogy to help you feel comfortable with this concept, think of your instructions for oxygen masks on a plane. You must put your own on before you help others – including your own children. Because if you can’t breathe yourself, then you can’t help them.
And emotional health and wellbeing is no different. If you take care of your own needs, you will have greater personal resources and energy to devote to your family and others.
(STILL need convincing? Take six minutes and watch this video. Jada Pinkett-Smith sums up perfectly just why taking care of ourselves is so important.)
So how can you ‘love yourself’ more this month?
There are lots of ways you can lavish care and affection on yourself this month. And a great place to start is revisiting some fantastic emotional wellbeing advice on here, including:
AND learning how to take good physical care of yourself:
- How to get a better night’s sleep
- Tired, stressed or depressed? When to go to your GP
- How to eat your way to productivity
- Healthy ways to deal with stress
What will you find new on here this month?
We’ve also got plenty of new self-love advice and inspiration planned for you this month. Here’s a taste of some of the content you can look forward to:
- An interview (plus tips!) from Brooke Siler, Pilates trainer-to-the-stars
- An explanation of how strengths coaching can help you
- How to wear outfits you love – and love you right back
- 36 easy self-improvement tips to try
- How to free yourself from people pleasing!
- How to overcome your anxiety and follow your freelance dreams
Our goal this month (and every month!) is to help you to be the very best version of you. To avoid the self-esteem sapping trap of inauthenticity, and to ensure that you have the energy, emotional strength, patience and mental space to set a brilliant example to your own children – and make the world around you as happy and healthy as you are.
Choose one self-love action every day
So how can you easily implement self-love? We have a suggestion. Take a piece of paper, or grab your diary or calendar, and write one small action you can take every day that will make you feel happy or be more healthy.
It can be as simple as committing to taking a break at lunchtime and walking around the park or spending an hour reading a novel, to as lovely as planning a long, child-free brunch with your girlfriends or a weekend away with your partner.
In fact it doesn’t matter what you plan. The point is to start a new habit of thinking about your needs and acting on them.
If you do this, you’ll notice over time that stress, resentment and that familiar short-fuse feeling will gradually fall away, and you’ll be more cheerful, energetic and patient with the people around you. For self-love leads to more love all round for everybody, and that can only be a good thing, right?Hannah Martin