In an age of constant connection to other people’s lives, it is easy to forget about intentionally connecting to your own. We are so absorbed by aggressive and dramatic reality shows and often compare ourselves to people on TV or online without truly taking a moment to unplug and go inward. How many times have you had a spare moment alone and filled the silence with a TV show or reaching for your device to scroll through tweets, pictures and statuses with no moments left for yourself? I’d love to challenge you this month to instead fill those extra moments with intentional self-love!
intentional: something done with intention or ON PURPOSE.
self-love: promotion of one’s own welfare or well-being
(definitions derived from dictionary.com)
As a mental health therapist, I am constantly urging the people I work with and for to engage in self-care to preserve their energy and remind themselves of how loved and worthy they truly are. I also have to remember to do this for myself!! Without this preservation, we are unable to do anything for ourselves or others, feeling far from our center and disconnected with our God.
Not sure where to start with loving yourself? Here are some ways you can engage in self-care this month:
- Take yourself on a special date! Whether you are single, married, engaged, or in a relationship, it is important to spend time alone treating yourself like the amazing person you are! And if you are single, do not spend time upset about not having a valentine’s date, get dressed up and do something good for you!!!
- Create a daily ritual and write it on your schedule at the beginning of each week! It could be anything from taking 30 minutes to read for fun, taking a relaxing bath, or doing something fun you enjoy. For me, it’s taking a hot shower by candlelight with Brazilian jazz playing then reading a devotional and meditating to help wind down before bed.
- Take time to pray, meditate and tell yourself: I LOVE YOU. Connecting to God and consistently repeating affirmations is important. You could also put visual reminders in your space by creating vision boards, putting up wall art (like the piece I created above), or simply posting reminders or scriptures on a post-it note.
- Write yourself a love letter. Read it every day this month or on scheduled days.
- Put yourself first in your life by setting boundaries and communicating those boundaries intentionally and directly to others. This means no subliminal tweets or posts! Go directly to the source and be firm about what you will and won’t allow in your life as well as the limitations on resources (time, money, energy, etc) you can share with others. You will feel so much better and proud of yourself when you do!
- Be gentle with your soul! You are a human being. You will make mistakes. You will not win every battle, but you WILL win the overall war when you grace yourself, learn the lessons, stay positive, and continue to move forward.
- Get some exercise and eat healthy! Show your body that you honor the temple it is.
- Celebrate you! Unplug this month and celebrate who you are. Review all of your accomplishments, your strengths, reflect on times you’ve overcome and celebrate all by yourself. You’ve made it through so many things! You are resilient and you are a special gift to the world with so much to offer!
- Finally, share your story and give some of your light to someone. You never know how much you may inspire another person with your own self-love.
When we take care of ourselves, it is easier for us to believe the truth that we are LOVED. We become conscious of our capacity to love, and in turn are better able to care for our visions, and connect them to serving others. I pray that you all spend time loving on yourself and building yourself up during this love month of 2014!!!
Jade Andwele is a professional art therapist and counselor focused on researching and treating mental illness in African American women. She is also a working artist, writer, and performer. Check out her art shop at jadeandweledesigns.com and read more about her at about.me/jadeandwele