By Heidi Baldwin, MS, RMT, Integrative Nutrition Holistic Health Coach
February is here, and this month is most often associated with Valentine's Day and is known as Heart Health Month. Hearts are also synonymous with love, and I want to take a few moments to talk about self-love. Studies have shown that self-love is a key component of mental health and well-being. If we aren't being kind to ourselves, how do we have it in us to reflect kindness and love to others?
Here are some of my favorite recommendations for cultivating self-love: 1. Avoid negativity and surround yourself with positive, uplifting people. 2. Spend less time on technology and more time out in the sunshine. 3. Nourish your body with fruits and vegetables - EVERY SINGLE DAY! 4. Get rid of things that are no longer in your best interest. 5. Take time daily to do something for YOU, whether it be meditating, reading a book, or taking a hot bath. YOU DESERVE IT! 6. Learn to say no. Do the things you know you should do, not the things others think you should be doing. 7. Consciously breathe each day... I mean DEEP BREATHING! We don't breathe enough... 8. Take time to watch the sun-rise and the sun-set each day. 9. Splurge on yourself every once in a while. Again, you're worth it. 10. Be in the present and enjoy today. Stop worrying about tomorrow, and you know you can't change the past. Make each moment in the now count. 11. Express your gratitude and stop complaining. You'd be surprised how happy you'll begin feeling by doing just this! 12. Replace one bad habit with a new, positive habit each month. 13. Forgive yourself and others; don't allow grudges to weigh you down. 14. Make a point of spending more time with family and friends. 15. Volunteer - with animals or people, it doesn't matter, just volunteer doing something you love. 16. Work on getting rid of the clutter in your life. 17. Trust your gut and follow your heart. 18. Believe in yourself no matter what. 19. Make sleep a priority - you need at least 7 straight hours to have any chance at maintaining good health. 20. Keep a gratitude journal - it's a great way to help remember all the good things in your life, even on the not so good days.
Self-love and self-care should never be confused with being selfish. I know so many people who neglect self-care because they feel they don’t deserve that time, and they just give and give until there is nothing left of themselves to offer. This is often a breeding ground for illness to fester. It is SO important to learn to put your needs first so you can be your best version of yourself and be there for others in the capacity that is most healthy for you. If people treated themselves as well as they treat their cars, think about how much healthier we would be in general. You wouldn’t expect your car to get you to work if your tank was on E and your oil light was on, would you?
We have just this one body that is there for us every step of every moment of our lives, and we need to remember to have gratitude for all it does well and all the processes that are working properly. Without much of a thought, our heart keeps on beating for us and our lungs keep breathing while we go about our days neglecting the heck out of our body, and often our minds. Be good to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Take time to cultivate self-love and have gratitude for yourself. It really is a simple concept that can make a world of difference in your mental well-being and your physical health.