Hug myself? Chant “I love you, Gay” over and over, out loud? Ewwww!
That was my first reaction many years ago when I was told I needed to love myself.
Now I’m understanding that whatever I do and whoever I am starts with self-care. Not the icky, self-centered, it’s-all-about-me stuff. Rather, the kind that says, as Max Ehrmann does in Desiderata, “I am a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the starts, and I have a right to be here.” The kind that says I am to be maintained, if not like a princess, then like a worthy human with a lot of normal human needs.
So here’s my list of whats to love yourself, particularly in this season of high expectation and excess.
1. Eat healthy. Some of us can splurge on food and drink and reel ourselves in the next day and some of us can’t (I can’t). Know who you are and live that truth. If a bite of a means a flat-out binge, don’t pick up that first cookie. Hurts when you do that? Don’t do that. Easy to say, harder to do. But totally worthwhile, to be a little uncomfortable for a few seconds instead of miserable for hours or days.
2. Move the bod. Stretch. Walk. Go to the gym. Stop thinking of exercise as torture, which I did for many years. I may not like the movement, but I adore the de-stressing, stamina-building, health-sustaining results of getting out of my head and into the rest of me.
3. Keep order. Clutter around me creates clutter in my mind. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I just know that a certain amount of clarity in my home helps me feel calm. (Just so you know, I am really, really bad at this. I just do the best I can.)
4. Pamper the bod. Get a haircut. Use nice lotions liberally. Brush your hair because it feels good, not because you’re rushing out the door and don’t want to scare people. Get a massage. Seriously. A massage isn’t a luxury. It’s smart health care. A great investment in your sanity, productivity and joy.
5. Talk nicely to yourself. Replace the mean, what-did-you-do-now inner monologue with sweet words you’d say to a tiny tot wailing cuz she just skinned her knee. As in, “Yes, it’s sad that you burned dinner. But it’s okay. You’re not in trouble. You are loving and lovable just the same.”
6. Connect to others. Healthy people. Supportive people. Non-toxic people. Call, write, text. Ask how they are. Tell them how you are. Say what you need. Get no for an answer, ask someone else. Help others, but only as your inner guide instructs.
7. Take quiet time every day. Prayer and meditation are the foundation for how a calm mind and soothed spirit. They also empower me to be my best self.