Love Yourself This Valentine's Day

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First and foremost, you should know, I'm a romantic. I LOVE love - happily ever after, Prince Charming, the thought of "the one", all of that sappy shit. On the weekends, you can find me binging old episodes of Jane the Virgin and sobbing over every little thing. The idea of true love has never been a hard concept for me to grasp. I've been lucky in the fact that I've been surrounded by amazing examples of romantic love my whole life and have a wonderful boyfriend who I've been living my dream with for nearly four years. But, there's a type of love that I have always found to be slightly more complex...SELF-love.

I'm an extreme over-thinker and have struggled with anxiety since high school. I get my brain wound up so tightly that it seems there's no way to ever talk it down. I found myself wide awake in the middle of the night playing over all of the things that I could have done differently during that day. (I'll take Ativan for 500 please, Alex.) But, I (unfortunately) am not The Doctor. I can't travel through time and space and make changes or fix "my mistakes". So, why do I stress about being perfect? And more importantly, how do I stop?

I think the one notion that was hard for me to grasp was that self-love is a journey. It doesn't happen overnight and there is certainly no "love at first sight" with yourself. We've grown up with our own idea of what "perfect" is. Whether the influence and pressure came from the media, our family, or our peers, we've all experienced the feeling of not being good enough. Or strong enough. Or smart enough. Or pretty enough.

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It takes time. Time to accept who you are and learn to fall in love with yourself AND your imperfections. And in that process, there are many ways to show yourself a kindness and help yourself along.

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. Success is not an overnight feat in anything you are striving for. It's also not the end-all, be-all and you shouldn't be so hard on yourself. If your weight-loss journey isn't turning out the way that it should be or you're falling behind on your meal-planning or you haven't found your dream job yet - relax, it's okay. I'm not saying to throw out your health, skincare routine, and workout schedule. But, it is okay to take a step back and re-evaluate. Maybe even eat an Oreo (or 10). Treat goals that you have for your life as finishing touches on an already beautiful canvas.

Take a mental health day. In order for your mind and body to align and bring you the contentment that you desire, you must nurture them. It's easy to find ways to take care of your form: a bite of broccoli here, a quick jog to the car there. Right? (I know nothing about physical health.) But your mind is different. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is give it the day off. Hit pause on everything that causes you stress. Use a personal day and turn off your phone. (Yes, I actually said that.) Take the time to separate yourself and find your peace doing something that you love. It could be reading a book, sinking into a bath, or enjoying a stroll. Whatever your thing is, do it. And do it often. Give yourself a chance to rediscover who you are and what you enjoy outside of your daily routine. Believe it or not, you are more than your job title. (Whoa, epiphany!)

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Finally, be honest with yourself. If you are unhappy with a situation or wish that things were different, make a change. Never suppress your uncertainties or put another's happiness above your own. (This can be tough, but is so necessary on your journey to self-love.) Putting yourself first is one of the most important steps that you can take and will truly help you find your way.

Now, go ahead! Enjoy your chocolate and your flowers and your extremely over-sized teddy bears. Have a wonderful rom-com of a Valentine's Day with whoever you love. But don't forget to give yourself a little kiss too!

xx