As Valentine's Day approaches, there’s no running away from the sales of roses, chocolates or romantic trips for the one you love. Let us stop for a second, and think about where is the message about the love and care for ourselves. Romantic relationships are complicated, some people are in fulfilling relationships, others are in unhappy unions or searching for a partner. No matter what stage you are on this journey, let's remember the one thing that will always be constant: the relationship we have with ourselves.
So, this Valentine's Day let's remember the importance of self-care, simply defined by the Oxford Dictionary as: “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness.”
Understanding self-care is best explained through a metaphor. Imagine that your self-care is like water in a glass, and the level of water in the glass is the amount of energy (emotional, physical, spiritual, and care) that you give to those around you, colleagues, family, friends etc. As you give, the water slowly drains. Self-neglect caused by not filling the glass would mean the water would run out and not have anything to give to others.
Practicing self-care beings with compassion, learning to be more compassionate with ourselves leads to a calmer mind, better relationships, less anxiety and depression, and an increased sense of self-worth. Compassion Focused therapy (CFT) is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) advocated by Paul Gilbert which teaches us that kindness to ourselves through practices as mindfulness and mind training, creates awareness to problematic patterns of cognitions and emotions related to anxiety, anger, shame and self-criticism. Practicing skills learned with your therapist will lead to the greatest love of all...the relationship with yourself, which will set the tone for every other relationship you have with others.
In the meantime, perhaps you may want to try these useful tips:
Compassionate Kit Bag
A bag to put reminders for your compassionate self, so you can use your resources to nourish you along life's journey. Collect items that are meaningful, or those you know will be helpful. You might find these items inspiring, empowering, soothing, motivating, bringing confidence and strength.
Use Compassionate Self Talk
We all often judge ourselves far harsher than the way we judge other people. We can practise noticing when we do that and start to use kind mind.
See situations using Kind Mind
“If I wasn't feeling so emotional, how else would I see this situation?”
Use kind affirmations
- I am strong
- I am unique and special
- I hold my head up high
- Look after yourself the way you would care for someone you loved.
- Eat healthily
- Ensure you get quality sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Plan activities you enjoy and/or find relaxing