I would argue that loving yourself and self-care can be said to be at the foundation of any spiritual practice.
Self-care looks different for everyone.
Because of this, something I suggest to myself and my clients is to ask themselves one question when making their own decisions about their life: Is this a loving choice?
The loving choice isn’t always the same for everyone.
Ayurveda teaches us that we are each a different combination of the elements that each have their own unique needs for balance and creating a state of harmony. Each of us also have individuals lives, ancestral history, traumas, and preferences.
Loving yourself is an individualized process.
I’ve compiled six hacks to self-care that can be individualized to meet your own specific needs for loving yourself. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but it can be a guide to a great start!
1. Have A Morning Routine
If you’re like me, this one could trigger you or make you cringe. Mornings are hard enough without rules and guilt, right?
It doesn’t have to be like that!
A morning routine can be something very simple that you do to love yourself - even if it’s just brushing your teeth.
Neurologically, doing something that you perceive as self-loving as soon as you wake up is setting a tone for your whole day. You are telling yourself that you love yourself when your brain is still in a very influenceable state.
Some other great morning routines could include meditation, yoga, tea, coffee, lemon water or something else to naturally boost digestion and metabolism, walking into nature, practicing gratitude, or, one of my newest favorites, future-self journaling (where in you write journal notes to your future self).
Whatever you do, it has to be something that you enjoy and perceive to be an act of self-care rather than a chore or something done out of guilt. (Learn more in Fill Your Mind, Body and Soul: A Morning Ritual to Start Your Days.)
2. Practice Saying No
Your time is precious. So many of us say yes out of guilt, self-imposed responsibility, or to fulfill some role that we identify with.
As you learn to pause, take a breath, and reflect on your current state and desires, you may find you want to say no more often than you have practiced doing before.
You may learn to say no to yourself as well.
As you treat your time with more sacred reverence, you build more respect for yourself and learn to trust yourself more as well. (Learn more in You Are Not Your Thoughts.)
3. Affirm Yourself
My favorite way to affirm myself is (not surprisingly) through affirmations!
I have personally experienced the monumental neurological shifts that can occur through practicing the same affirmations over and over until they begin to rewire your brain.
You can also connect with your inner child to see what wounds exist.
Through this, you discover the stories (typically learned in childhood) that you tell yourself that are the opposite of affirming.
You can catch patterns of thinking that are unloving and unhelpful. While affirmations are not for everyone, I believe we can all benefit from becoming our own internal cheerleader. (Learn more in 3 Steps to a More Positive You.)
4. Be Good To Your Body
In general, it is helpful for your physical health to consider things like your diet, physical practices, and what chemicals you are exposing yourself to.
Being good to your body can look different for everyone as well.
There are many different things that people think of when they think of self-care activities: meditating, doing a spa treatment, going to therapy, going to a yoga class, eating delicious food, using plant medicines, and many more.
It always depends on the person and the situation if it is a loving choice.
Eating a cookie may be a loving choice for someone, but not for someone else who has been eating cookies every night this week or for someone who may have specific health concerns. Going shopping could be a loving choice for someone or it could be a financially irresponsible decision for someone else.
Choosing to watch tv and lay down instead of doing yoga could be the loving choice for someone who is exhausted and has followed their daily yoga practice for weeks without a break. Choosing tv over yoga could be an unloving choice for someone who has neglected their emotional, spiritual, and physical needs for too long.
It is really about creating balance, harmony, and happiness in the body and mind which could look very different depending on the person. (Learn more in Using the Yamas to Practice Self-Care.)
5. Play and Create
Research shows that we learn best through play and creativity. Play is nourishing not only to our intellect but to our overall emotional, spiritual, and mental health.
Find a creative outlet or sense of playfulness that excites you and see if you can integrate it into your everyday life.
This could include art, music, or dance. You could consider activities that nurture your inner playful child too, such as going to amusement parks, playing in the rain, drawing, or even something fun like speaking using silly voices! (Learn more in Creating Freedom Through Playfulness and Creativity.)
6. Remember That Self Love Comes From Your Highest Self
Loving yourself and self-care goes far beyond shopping and manicures. BUT that does not mean that it can’t include these things.
The most important thing to remember is that loving your self comes from your Highest Self.
When you ask yourself, “Is this the loving choice?” you may need to sit in meditation to really hear the answer from your Higher Self.
The most loving decision is not always the easiest action to make either. Sometimes we do have to “push” ourselves to love ourselves, especially if we experience mental health challenges like symptoms of depression and anxiety. (Learn more in How Meditation can Help Soothe Your Stress and Anxiety.)
There may be loud internal voices leading us towards choices that may make us feel better temporarily, but we know deep down are not the most loving choice we can make.
Be gentle with yourself. It’s okay to play hooky from your routine or soothe yourself with a bowl of ice cream here and there.
In the end, only you know what you truly need.
Your Highest Self intuitively knows where to push you past your comfort zone towards growth. Sometimes you may be drawn to experience some self-tough-love.
There is no script. Feel into the body and trust that only you know the answers.
Get Quiet And Find Your Inner Guide
When thinking about self-care and asking yourself if any action or decision is a loving choice, you can remember that there are many variables and factors that make the answer unique to everyone.
Moderation, self-love and self-care looks different for everyone.
So, when loving yourself fully, remember that only your Higher Self knows what that looks like. We can call upon friends, professionals, doctors, and gurus for guidance.
But in the end, the answers and actions must come from within.