Self-Love is an Action
by Rachel Dungan
This Valentine's Day, consider what love really means and how good you are at sharing the love.... with yourself.
Love is a verb, an action word. Love is something you DO. It can produce emotion, but love is an action.
Self-love means being for yourself, not against. It’s about accepting shortcomings as well as strengths. And it’s vital for growth and change.
Self-love is something we do, not just something we feel. To say “I value myself” is an act of self-affirmation that provides a base from which self-esteem develops.
When we practice self-love we don’t have to condone or even like everything about ourselves. In fact, it’s almost certain that we won’t. What it does mean is that we recognise and accept our thoughts, our actions, our emotions, our bodies, our dreams — everything about us — as our own.
After all, isn't it amazing that of all the 7 billion people currently living on this planet, that not a single one of them is exactly the same as you. You are unique and special. You are not only one in a million. You are one in SEVEN BILLION (and counting!). There never has been, nor will there ever be another person quite like you. You are meant to be. Right here. Right now. You are meant to be YOU!
“But I don’t want to be insecure (or afraid or judgmental or angry or fat or old or alcoholic or any of a dozen other things),” you might say. “If I accept that about myself, it means I don’t want to change. Or I won’t change.”
What if life doesn't work like that? What if pioneering psychologist Carl Rogers was right when he observed, “The curious paradox is that when I love and accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
So if love is an action word, here are some actions you could you do this Valentine's Day to show you that you love and appreciate you and are grateful for the blessings in your life.
1. Consistently get at least 8 hours SLEEP - Despite growing support for the idea that adequate sleep is vital to our well-being, people are sleeping less. While you sleep, your brain is hard at work forming the pathways necessary for learning and creating memories and new insights. Without enough sleep, you can't focus and pay attention or respond quickly. A lack of sleep may even cause mood problems. Growing evidence shows that a chronic lack of sleep can also increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and infections.
2. Drink enough water to ensure HYDRATION - Water is the building block of life as we know it, and makes up 60% of your body weight. 100% hydration helps to combat fatigue, regulate blood pressure, maintain healthy skin, aid digestion and elimination of toxins and metabolic waste, stop gaining unwanted weight. Every cell, organ and system in the body works optimally when you drink enough water and don't get dehydrated.
3. Eat foods that nourish your body, not deplete your energy. Regularly eating quality meals with a protein source, carbohydrate, and a variety of vegetables will help your body feel better. Foods that are raw, roasted, grilled or boiled are better than fried foods. Fresh is healthier than processed, and fast foods should be avoided, as should foods where the ingredient list includes unpronounceable additives.
4. Move - Author and Entrepreneur Bill Phillips says "Exercise is the most potent, yet under-utilised antidepressant". Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic and inventor of the treadmill desk, has been studying the adverse effects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles for years and has summed up his findings in two sentences. "Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death. Levine is credited with coining that mantra -- "sitting is the new smoking" -- but he's not the only one who believes it. Researchers have found and continue to find evidence that prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing several serious illnesses like various types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
5. Rest and Recharge - In addition to sufficient sleep, engaging in relaxing activities such as meditation, massage, or a nap will contribute significantly to your regeneration. Contrary to popular belief, a proper rest break does not detract from performance, but rather contributes to it. The body needs time to adapt to the mental, physical and emotional stress of preparation and performance–in business, professional and personal life. It is in recovery where the real effects of study and training are processed and made permanent. Recovery also allows energy stores to replenish and damage to be repaired. Without planned rest and recovery, you will burn out. Signs and symptoms of burn out include feeling depressed, stale, decreased performance, lack of focus, and lethargy. With proper rest, all of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual reserves have the opportunity to recharge.
6. Nurture Relationships - A constant and continual focus on tasks can come with a sense of isolation from personally satisfying relationships. If this is your case, include others who like, support and believe in you. Laughter is great medicine, so be alert for surrounding yourself with people who are positive, optimistic and make you laugh. Reciprocal relationships are often the best wherein you give to others what they need and they give you what you need–and the entire process seems comfortable and effortless. Remember to nurture a loving relationship with yourself too and make time to develop your self.
7. Treat yourself to trips in the great outdoors - Research shows that environments can increase or reduce our stress, which in turn impacts our bodies. What you are seeing, hearing, experiencing at any moment is changing not only your mood, but also how your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are working. Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical well-being, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.
8. Develop a Positive Mindset - Scientist Barbara Fredrickson has shown that positive emotions have two important effects; they broaden our perspective of the world (thus inspiring more creativity, wonder, and options), and they build up over time, creating lasting emotional resilience and flourishing. According to her research, the benefits of positivity, include faster recovery from cardiovascular stress, better sleep, fewer colds, and a greater sense of overall happiness. The good news is not only that positive attitudes—such as playfulness, gratitude, awe, love, interest, serenity, and feeling connected to others—have a direct impact on health and well-being, but that we can develop them ourselves with practice. She has identified three positive ways of being that build psychological resourcefulness and contribute to a flourishing life. The first is gratitude (which I have already shared in a previous article). The second is forgiveness and the third is resilience. These will be the subject of future articles.
So there you have some action potentials. I am curious to learn what you are going to DO this Valentine's Day as your acts of self-love?