Your Valentine to Yourself – All Month Long
February is traditionally considered the month of love. At least, that’s what all of the commercials and magazine covers tell us. I have no problem with a month devoted to loving others. But I thought that this month we could focus on something that we women generally aren’t very good at: loving ourselves.
I’m not talking about the kind of passive self-love that you read about in self-help books. I’m talking about actively loving the body you’re wearing. Think about how you demonstrate or act out the love you feel for the people who are most important to you. You probably do a number of things every day to nurture, comfort, encourage and support them. That’s the kind of love I’m talking about.
We’re Great at Loving Everyone Else!
Women tend to not be so good at loving themselves as individuals or at loving their bodies. We feel self-indulgent if we spend time caring for ourselves when we should be doing something for someone else. We can work out for hours every week and spend time meticulously doing our hair or makeup and still only see our “flaws.” We put off working out, getting a massage or doing a detox until we’ve crossed everything else off of our to-do lists, but of course we never get to that point do we?
I think there are two reasons for the way we put ourselves last or don’t always think highly of ourselves. First, we’re designed to nurture, so perhaps we have a certain disconnect built-in that makes us love everyone else first and then love ourselves with what’s leftover. Second, I think it’s been well-established that advertising, the media and Hollywood make it really difficult for us to appreciate what’s best about our looks and our bodies and disregard everything else.
Give Yourself Some Valentines, All Month Long
This month, people will be giving flowers, candy, stuffed animals and cute little cards to the people they love. I want to challenge you to give yourself some Valentines throughout the month, as a way of learning to put yourself, your body and your health somewhere toward the top of your priority list. It just might help you learn to appreciate and love your body more than you have before. It really is ok to think of yourself without feeling guilty or selfish. Feeling good about yourself actually helps you be more helpful to others.
The Gift of Good Nutrition
As the first-time Mom of a beautiful baby girl, I’m extremely committed to making sure that my child has the most nutritious food I can give her. I think that all of us mothers take our kids’ nutrition very seriously, but especially first-time Moms with little ones just starting out on real food. Wouldn’t it be great if we gave the same care to our own diets? I’ve seen Moms spend twenty minutes choosing the right variety of organic baby foods. I know Moms who carefully pick out the most wholesome ingredients for making their babies’ food at home. And I think we’ve all met those Moms who only feed their babies homemade food from organic vegetables grown on a south-facing hill and picked in the first dew of the morning. So why is it that we’ll spend an hour or more on choosing our baby’s food and then grab anything fast for ourselves, with a careless thought of, “That’ll work”?
Don’t forget that you have to take just as good care of the person raising your child as you do of your child. If you don’t take care of yourself, who will be taking care of your children? You’re worth the time and effort of the freshest, cleanest and most nutrient-dense foods. You deserve the most intense flavors and enjoyable textures too.
By feeding your body well, you fuel yourself for living an intentional, exciting and satisfying life. So this month, get rid of the “that’ll do” attitude and enjoy the “that looks amazing” one instead.
The Gift of Time
Time; Women don’t have any. We spend so much time getting things done and taking care of other people that we have very little time left to spend on ourselves. Many of us find ourselves with 30 empty minutes and then feel guilty if we don’t use it to run some errands, do another load of laundry or study up for tomorrow’s meeting.
The truth is that constantly doing and achieving is awful for your health, both physically and mentally. Try to look at time this way. If you don’t give yourself a quality hour, you can’t give your best for the other twenty-three, not to your work, your kids, your man or anything else.
Commit to setting aside 15 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour every day that is just for you. Maybe some days 15 minutes is all you can spare, but if that’s the case then at least make it the best 15 minutes possible. Give yourself a facial, do a devotional or write in a journal or enjoy a cup of sorbet outside. If you have an hour, get in a great workout, take a bubble bath or go for a hike. Whatever you do, do something that feeds your body, your soul or your heart.
Does 5% sound like a lot to you? How about 10%? It sounds like very little, doesn’t it? You have 168 hours in every single one of your weeks. Don’t you think you should be able to give yourself 5-10% of that? What could you do with 8 or 16 hours a week? That’s a week’s worth of great workouts, several good naps, time to shop the farmer’s market for fresh produce, and plenty of
time to prep a week’s worth of nutritious lunches for work. It’s up to you what you do with the time, but think about those numbers for a bit. 8 – 16 hours is a HUGE block of time when you think you don’t have any to spend on yourself.
The Gift of Fitness
One of the first things women tend to cut out of a busy schedule (and our schedule is almost always busy) is our time to work out. We need to work late, so we skip the workout. We need to sleep in, so we skip the workout. We need to shop, clean the house, volunteer, so we skip the workout.This goes back to the point that if we don’t spend some time caring for and loving our bodies and our health, we won’t be nearly as efficient, effective or successful at any of that other stuff.
But here’s another point: working out and being fit gives you the energy, stamina, motivation and focus to rock all of that that other stuff. We absolutely must be fit and healthy to not only do everything we need to do, but enjoy everything we love to do.
Not only should you make sure you give yourself the time and opportunity to work out, you should also make a conscious effort to get at least some of your exercise doing things that you really enjoy and look forward to. That might be a fun dance class, a rock climbing wall, a game of tennis or a yoga session in a beautiful environment. You not only deserve to be fit, you deserve to have fun getting fit.
The Gift of Pampering
We’re always pampering the people we love. We even pamper our pets. We enjoy doing little things that make others smile. Don’t forget to pamper yourself a little bit too, doing things that make your body feel good. You might splurge on a massage or treat yourself to some really sexy workout gear. Now, pampering doesn’t have to cost money. Light a candle in your favorite scent and curl up with a great book. Give yourself a foot spa treatment at home. Come home and slip on that soft sweater that makes you feel like you’re being hugged instead of throwing on your old sweats.
We all have little things that make us feel pampered and decadent and comforted. Make a list of the things that do that for you and divide them into three columns: free, cheap and splurge. Then dole them out to yourself according to your budget, not according to whether you think you have time, deserve it or earned it that day. You did, you do and you did.
The overall point of this post is that in loving and caring for your own body and your own well-being, you make yourself more able to care for everyone else that you love. So don’t think it’s selfish or frivolous to spend a little time and thought on doing what’s good for you.