6 Ways to Love Yourself

Girl drinking tea with cat and Baymax

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
– Buddha

This world seems to be spinning faster and faster each day. I’ve found myself feeling more and more disoriented and „out-of-the-loop“ every year I get older. I’ve often asked myself whether I’m doing something wrong; whether I’m just not „getting it“. But, instead of changing something, I’d just buy things. Things that did make me happy, yes, but the „buzz“ went away pretty quickly afterwards. I would buy 6 books at once, hoping for positive impulses. Rationally, I knew that I was happy that I got these books – after all, I’ve been wanting to read them for a long time. But I wasn’t feeling it in my heart.
My anxiety grew worse as I started clamming up more and more, hoping, begging for respite from the constant tension I was feeling. I went on vacation, got physical therapy to get rid of the kinks in my back and neck and drank a glass of wine after coming home as a „reward“ for making it through the day.
As you may imagine, it wasn’t working. I couldn’t alleviate the anxiety in me by feeding myself outside impulses. So I started to work with myself from within.

Self-care has sadly developed into a trend word with a huge industry behind it. In all the hype, we might even forget that self-care is nothing more than checking in with yourself and giving yourself a moment of peace. You don’t need expensive gadgets to practice self-care. All you need is the right mindset, the readiness to give yourself the peace you crave. 
There are a million ways to practice self-care and oftentimes, you have to find your own routine.
For example: For a while, I’d use face masks twice a week, inspired by YouTubers and Bloggers I’d followed who did this as part of their self-care routine. Turns out I find face masks incredibly stressful. I hate having to be careful not to touch my face. It feels restrictive, not relaxing. So I stopped that. You see, you have to find what you feel is relaxing and revitalizing for you.

These are the 7 ways I practice self-care. I hope you find some inspiration here.

Meditation

Meditation

Meditation is my favorite tool for self-care and self-love. As a person battling an anxiety disorder, I have trouble turning my mind off. It feels like my brain never stops working. Meditation is a respite from my racing thoughts. I’ll be real with you: I have not figured it out yet and I think I won’t for a long time. I try to concentrate on my breathing and on my body and the second I think I’m succeeding, I realize I’ve just been writing my grocery list in my head. The focus is gone and I have to start again. But I actually feel ok about that. Why? Because my obsession with „succeeding“ has no place in my self-care practice. You’re not „failing“ if your mind wanders during meditation. If it was that easy, we’d all be enlightened af. You have to work at it, train your mind, become accustomed to the silence. You’re doing amazing by just trying, I promise. The apps I like to use to meditate are HeadSpace and Meditation Time.
I’ve been using HeadSpace for quite a while now because it helps me get motivated and stick with my practice. It offers a large amount of different guided meditations, sorted by feelings and problems you might be struggling with. Right now, I’m working on the Anger-pack. What’s great about this is that not only can you specifically choose what to work on through your meditation, but you can also choose the length you’d like to meditate for. The packs start at 10 minutes per sitting. If you have little time or still feel intimidated by the practice, you can also choose singles on diverse topics. These range from 3 to 10 minutes and target immediate problems you might have, such as outbursts of anger and sadness or issues with falling asleep or sleeping through the night. You can choose to do the 10-day basic meditation program for free or purchase the full version and gain access to many helpful programs that will take you where you want to be.
If you don’t want to spend the money or feel confident in your skills to shut off without guidance, why not try Meditation Time instead? Meditation Time provides you with a simple timer. You can input how long you want to meditate for and the background music you’d find relaxing and just start. A gong will sound each minute to give you an idea how far along you are. Sometimes, all you need is a few minutes of silence to sort yourself out. With chaos brewing inside of you, guided meditation might be too much and could just add to the overwhelming stimuli. Meditation Time will give you a moment of quiet when you most need it.

Bullet Journaling

Bulletjournaling

I originally started Bullet Journaling because my obsessive self couldn’t find a timer that fulfilled all my needs. I wanted to track everything: my habits, my calorie intake, my sleep, my budget, etc. etc. In the end, I went completely overboard and decided to abandon my tracking in favor of not driving myself insane, but I always loved the creative part of BuJo. I’d follow tons of blogs and accounts on Tumblr and Instagram to get inspiration for my spreads, buy cute stickers and washi tapes and just go to town on my notebooks. I had the best time. If you don’t overdo it on tracking and instead use BuJo to live out your creativity, draw and write, it’s a beautiful and relaxing hobby.

Bulletjournaling

Drinking tea

Drinking tea

I’ve been drinking tea every morning since I was a child. First, it was a habit, with my mom putting peppermint tea in front of me each morning before school. Then, it became something I did because I liked it. Today, I drink a cup of green tea each morning after waking up. It signalizes that my day is about to begin, but hasn’t yet. I also use tea to relax. There are many relaxing benefits to drinking tea: Green tea contains amino acid, which helps alleviate stress. Peppermint tea contains menthol, which is considered a natural muscle relaxant and cure for headaches. Peppermint doesn’t contain any caffeine, which makes it the perfect drink to calm yourself before sleeping. Another tea to alleviate stress as well as insomnia is the classic camomile tea. It relaxes your muscles and helps you fall asleep. Alternatively, try rose tea, which is also considered a natural remedy for stress and anxiety.

Working out

Workout clothes

What did queen Elle Woods say in Legally Blonde? „Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.“ Very, very true. Sometimes, self-care isn’t just about laying down on your bed, surrounded by chocolates and blankets (although, that sounds amazing, too!). Do something good for yourself. Break out that old Yoga mat. Visit your local gym. Go for a run. Studies show that regular exercise improves your mood and helps combat depression and anxiety. It increases sensitivity for the happy-hormone serotonin which works to counteract feelings of depression. If you struggle with burn out, regular exercise can help reduce fatigue and give you new energy.
I’m trying to get back into practicing Yoga on a regular basis. To help me get back in the rhythm, I use videos by Yoga With Adriene. Texas-based Yoga teacher Adriene Mishler is cute as a button and has a beautiful, soothing voice. Her videos are all about finding what feels good and being patient with yourself. This is the right channel for you if you want to do Yoga to relax and find your inner balance. She has multiple 30-day programs to start building a habit, or you can do her one-offs, ranging from 10 to 50 minutes If you prefer to sweat, look up the ever-popular Blogilates on YouTube. Cassey Ho is an internationally renowned fitness leader and will have you gasping for air with her intense exercise videos. She also offers workout and meal-calendars for free on her website to help you build a routine.

Reading

Reading shelf with decoration

Being a literature major, reading is pretty much a required hobby. I’ve always loved reading, ever since I was a child. I’d wait for my mom to fall asleep and then read all night with a flashlight. There’s one particularly traumatizing memory where my mom caught me reading in the middle of the night and she got so mad that she actually tore my book in two! In hindsight, both of our confused and shocked faces made a hilarious picture, but I’m making sure to never let her forget it, haha.

I’ve made a goal to read 25-30 books each year. At the beginning of every year, I write up my reading list with so much excitement; my body literally vibrates with joy. I usually don’t have the time to sit down and just read for a few hours, which is a bummer. But I try to get in a few pages on public transport, during lunch and whenever I visit my family. I’ve missed my train stop more than once, haha.
Right now, I’m reading George R. R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings and Jen Sincero’s You are a Badass and I’m LOVING them. My favorite reads of this year so far have been Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller and Mother, can you not? by Kate Friedman-Siegel. Find me on goodreads to see more of my reading list and share your favorites of 2018!

Cuddling someone you love

Cuddling with cat

Cuddling releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin, boosts the immune system and alleviates anxiety. As if we needed any more good reasons to hug the stuffing out of somebody we love! Holding someone warm and fluffy in your arms is just the best feeling in the world. I make it a point to hold my cats each day and hug them as hard as they allow. Feeling their soft fur against my face, hearing their happy purrs…It’s amazing what a simple gesture like this can do. Cuddle your friends, your family members, your lovers, your pets, your plants, your plush toys, that person on the street holding a Free Hugs-sign. It doesn’t matter. The world needs a hug.

Cuddling with cat

Gratitude

Lastly and most importantly: practice gratitude. I often find myself so overwhelmed with stress and fear that I forget to give thanks to the universe for all the things I have: a family, a boyfriend, friends, pets, a roof above my head. When everything seems to be going wrong, it feels hard to remember what in your life is going right. And there’s so much. Be grateful for your health, even if it isn’t perfect. Be grateful for the people that love you, even though they make mistakes sometimes. Most importantly, be grateful for yourself. Grateful that you made it through another day. Grateful that you are working at it, that you’re not giving up. Being conscious of the blessings in your life is the first step to being happy. If you don’t appreciate what you have, you’ll never be able to appreciate what you might gain.

These were the 7 ways I practice self-love. Leave your thoughts and feelings in the comments.

How do you practice self-care? How do you show yourself love?