You can never pour from an empty cup. This year, learn to love yourself first. Here are some easy and not-so-easy self-love habits that will make you the master of your life. These self-love habits are not your run-of-the-mill practices like getting a massage or painting your nails. To be honest, there is nothing wrong with those practices too. But the self-love habits listed here need discipline and consistency and being vulnerable and open with yourself and your loved ones.
- Body: Self-love habits for physical health & physiological wellness
- Mind: Self-love habits for mental health
- Soul: Self-love habits to improve emotional intelligence
- Goals: Love yourself by achieving your goals
- Space: Extend your self-love habits to your personal space
- Energy work: Daily self-love habits to preserve your peace
- 10 favorite self-love affirmations
Body: Self-love habits for physical health & physiological wellness
1. Preventative care
Prevention is so much better than cure. If you know you need to take care of something, you must start it as a preventative measure rather than waiting for the problem to arise. Do what needs to be done. Put your health and wellness first.
We are built to move but sadly due to long hours in our corporate jobs, we have to recreate manual labor in the gyms. Build your life such that it allows you to move your body throughout the day.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say most people don’t drink enough water throughout the day. Keep your body hydrated and most of your problems will be better.
4. Experience life
You are doing yourself a disservice if you think you were solely made to trade your time for money. Go out there and engage in activities that you like. Be with friends, interact with nature, experience life in your own unique way.
5. Get at least 8 hours of sleep
Sleep is by far the most efficient tool that we have in our arsenal that improves our memory, boosts creativity and regulates our emotions. Use it.
And while we are on the topic of sleep, take more power naps, ideally 20-25 minutes long. They are shown to improve memory and creativity.
7. Get at least 15 minutes of sunlight after waking up
Sunlight resets your circadian rhythm allowing you to get tired and sleepy as the evening draws in and letting sleep take over naturally.
8. Approach everything with a beginner’s mind.
Shoshin- a concept from Zen Buddhism that means beginner’s mind. When you study something, try to get rid of any preconceived notions about it or your experiences related to it. It means displaying eagerness and being open to learning new things no matter what level of learning you are at.
9. Have a deep breathing routine
Breathing is an involuntary function, yet you can choose to do it consciously. And by choosing to change your breathing, you can change your physiology.
10. Sprinkle a healthy dose of laughter in your life
It gets you out of the fight and flight response. The sympathetic nervous system response is supposed to be short-term but some of us are in fight or flight mode even while answering emails from work. Laughter allows you to calm your nerves and promote relaxation by reducing blood pressure and heart rate.
11. Going near flowing water like creeks, waterfalls or rivers
These places have an abundance of negative ions which have been proven to reduce stress, regulate moods and depression in some people. Even if you are a skeptic, going out in the nature is sure to lift your mood.
12. Learn to play any instrument
Playing a musical instrument engages different parts of our brain all at once, strengthening various functions including visual, auditory and fine motor skills. The task of playing an instrument requires high level of synchronization, strategizing and execution that puts both our cognitive and creative brain hemispheres to work.
Do something for yourself, even if it’s only for 5 minutes. Find what’s your love language and treat yourself.
14. Reach out and connect with someone
Make conscious effort to talk to your loved ones. And always leave the conversation on high note.
15. Eat your fruits and vegetables
This goes without saying. A well-balanced diet with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables is the way to go. Treat your body like a temple.
16. Smile more
Aside from the obvious benefits like release of endorphins and reduction of stress hormones, smiling actually makes you appear more approachable. Even fake smiling has some scientific evidence of tricking your brain into feeling better. It’s called the Facial Feedback response theory. I’ll give you one more reason to smile often. Smiling can stimulate the reward centers in our brain equivalent to eating 2000 bars of chocolate. Yes, you read that right. 2000! So, smile away.
17. Take out some dedicated time for your family
Switch off your phones. Listen to your loved ones talk and spend time together doing a bonding activity at least once a week.
18. Dress up for yourself
Put on some makeup or do your skincare if that’s your thing. Something that makes you feel confident in your skin.
19. Spend time outdoors
Humans are social beings. The nature is our home. Find an outdoor activity and make a commitment to honor it.
20. Plan your clothes for the next day
It reduces the number of decisions you need to take in the morning and helps you focus your attention on what truly matters.
Mind: Self-love habits for mental health
21. Not be controlled by things
When you say, “I need this otherwise I can’t function”, you need to take a deeper look at why that is. You should be able to operate without being dependent on things.
22. Building self-worth
Don’t measure how valuable you are by the way you are treated.― From the book: The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse
23. Exercise firm boundaries
Have you ever said yes to more appointments than you can manage? Most of us have done that at least more than once. People will get upset when you set boundaries and say no to things that you don’t have the energy for.
It will be awkward at times but remember this for the next time.
When you say yes to everything, you say no to yourself.
24. Practice gratitude religiously
Most people go through life with the attitude of “Oh! I don’t have this.” Or “I can’t find love.” And that’s where gratitude steps in. The feeling of gratitude and insufficiency cannot coexist. Therefore, when you are grateful, you begin to notice so many blessings that you already have. And that’s the only way to live a beautiful life.
25. Don’t compare yourself to other people
Why would you compare a rose and a sunflower? They are both beautiful and fulfilled in their own ways. The only person you need to compare yourself is who you were yesterday. That’s the only improvement that matters.
26. Understand that you have your own timeline
No one has the same experiences and circumstances and the same purpose as you. So why should you have the same timeline as them.
27. Find joy in simple things
The rain on your face, the sand under your feet, the sloppy kisses of your dog. Learn to enjoy the simpler things in life. Just because they are simple doesn’t mean they aren’t extraordinary.
28. Forgive yourself
Do you find yourself thinking about your past mistakes at 3 am? The only way out of that is to acknowledge what happened and accept it.
Think about whether you did your best in that situation, take into account all the known variables at that time. If you think there is nothing more you could have done, forgive yourself and let it go. There is no point holding onto something that doesn’t serve you. However, if you do believe that you could have done something different or you could have acted earlier, then write down what changes are you willing to make in your life from that moment forward, so you learn to respond in a way that better aligns with who you want to be.
29. Accept yourself as you are
People make us feel all kinds of things, the world tells us if you had that job you’d be accepted, if you change your personality then you’d be accepted. But we are missing the point, we only need acceptance from ourselves. Embrace your qualities and your quirks. It will be an ongoing process. But you have to take the lead.
30. Be there for yourself
When life gets rough, rather than expecting other people to show up for you and give you support. Start showing up for yourself first. Acknowledge how you feel and instead of blaming yourself, offer yourself comfort and know that you have the ability to get through this.
31. Be present
I was re-watching an episode of House M.D. and there was a patient who had received a false positive cancer diagnosis. The doctor corrected his mistake after 3 months. But something amazing happened during those 3 months. The person lived to his fullest. He enjoyed every day like it was his last. He was mentally present in his daily life. The truth is we all live on borrowed time. So, we must make full use of it. The present is a gift.
32. Stop chasing happiness
It’s a futile attempt to always keep chasing happiness. One because we can’t always be happy and two because happiness is a state of mind. It’s not something you get, it’s something you be. You can’t always be happy, but you can be well.
33. Pursue a hobby for yourself
Join a book club, a baking class, anything that you like. It’s a great way to spend time with yourself and find a like-minded community outside of work and family.
34. Journal your days
Here are some journal prompts:
- Three things I’m grateful for today.
- One thing I learnt today.
- One thing I’d like to improve in the near future.
- One thing that is giving me energy right now.
- One thing that has drained my energy today.
35. Brain dump
Don’t rely on your brain to remember things. Write them down, free up space from needless things that you constantly need to remember. Most people do a brain dump in the morning. My brain is active near the bedtime. So, I have a notepad on my nightstand where I write any and all ideas that come to me.
36. Let go of the thought of what other people think of you
I assure you everybody is thinking of themselves. It’s just what humans are hardwired to do. They find themselves the most interesting and they are only thinking about themselves. So, what other people think about you should be none of your business.
37. Forgive people
Write a letter addressed to the person who hurt you. Tell them how you felt but that you forgive them anyway. Now burn the letter. Or you could try a forgiveness meditation. Here’s my favorite one. Take one person at a time. Your peace is more important. Carrying on the hate or resentment for others is only going to burden you.
38. Social detox
We all know that social media algorithms are built to keep us active on the app. Do a social media detox day at least once a week. Or even better do a no-phone day once a month. Go for a walk, invite friends over. Play a board game. Check out a local museum.
39. Turn off unnecessary notifications especially from social media
This enables us to focus on our work without pointless distractions. You can pick and choose which apps to turn off the notifications for. You can also see under “Screen time activity”, which app send you the most notifications and which one you use most often when you pick up your phone.
40. Purge your social media accounts
Remove anything and anyone that doesn’t feed you good energy. Energy is our new currency and it’s the most expensive one. So, we are not going to give it for free.
41. Write down 3 things you love about yourself
Do this at least once a week for a month or two. It’s easy to criticize ourselves but a lot harder to appreciate. This will eventually break the cycle of negative self-talk.
42. Know how to disrupt the negative spiraling behavior
Do you often find yourself overthinking the worst-case scenarios? In preparation for the next time that happens, write down your exact fear and then replace it with a positive thought that you’d rather think when you are spiraling. It will take some takes to identify what you are overthinking about. During the spiraling spell, read the positive thought and try to focus on that. Know that just because you thought of something, doesn’t mean it’s true. And you have the power to choose what you think.
43. Stop chasing perfection
Too often perfectionism will only become an excuse to not start or to not finish or to not have fun. Let go of the expectation of being perfect. Done is better than perfect.
Soul: Self-love habits to improve emotional intelligence
Trigger warning: Shadow work and Inner child healing can be triggering. Seek professional help if you feel you need that.
Check out this article to know more about how to do shadow work as a beginner. You can also take a look at some of the journal prompts I have used, below.
44. Shadow work
- What insecurities do I have a habit of projecting onto others?
- What particular emotion do I try to avoid? What coping mechanisms have I set up to avoid dealing with that emotion?
- How do I show up for others, but fall short for myself?
45. Sit with your inner child
- What is that one activity I loved as a child but gave up? Why?
- What’s something that I didn’t receive as a child? How can my adult-self give it to my inner child now?
- What is my inner child afraid of?
46. Read books
One of my favorite self-love habits is reading books. Books challenge you by exposing you to different perspectives and ideas. Not only that, reading books helps build your vocabulary, critical thinking skills, reduce stress and make you more empathetic.
47. Be aware of the negativity bias
Do you tend to focus more on 1 negative comment as opposed to 20 positive ones? Chances are you said yes.
Humans tend to have a negativity bias because back during our hunter-gatherer days, this was an important tool to deal with possible threats. Negativity bias in today’s world draws more of our attention to the bad experiences. The only way to overcome this is with awareness, mindfulness and deliberately refocusing our attention to the positive events.
48. Learn to regulate and navigate your emotions
I’m not qualified to speak much about it. But I’ll say whatever I learnt from experience. I wanted to change how I responded to different situations, so I worked on recognizing when and why I got triggered. Took a breather and noted that down. Now most often than not, I know when I’m getting triggered and can take a step back to prevent myself falling back into the same old behaviors and responses. It’s not perfect but it’s still a long way away from where I started.
49. Be happy for other people
Let go of these thoughts that say, “If they succeed, I’ll fail” or “If they are good, I must be bad”. Someone getting the bigger piece of the pie doesn’t mean a smaller piece for you. The pie is ever expanding. There is enough for everyone.
50. Beat decision paralysis.
Sometimes over thinking about the possibilities leads you to get stuck and not come at any decision whatsoever. This decision paralysis could be out of fear of choosing the wrong option. Here’s how to beat it:
- Trust yourself to make the right choice.
- Remember not choosing is also a choice.
- You can always pivot if you feel it’s not the right choice.
51. Constructive criticism
Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t take advice from.
52. Give before receiving.
Teach if you want to learn something. Give love if you want more love. Be kind before expecting kindness from others.
53. Celebrate yourself.
Don’t wait for a special occasion. Every day is special if you think it is.
54. Listen and take 2-3 seconds to articulate what the other person said
Do this instead of formulating an answer in your head while the other person is speaking.
55. Embrace your vulnerability
Feel the emotions, connect with people, connect with yourself. Give yourself the space and courage to be vulnerable. Being strong and being vulnerable are synonymous.
56. Take care of your emotional diet
The only way you can significantly improve your emotional health is by consuming better. This is the one of the best self-love habits for your soul. Audit what you read and listen to every day. Our thoughts respond to what we consume.
Your mind will give back to you exactly what you put into it.― James Joyce
57. Let go of the things that are beyond your control.
Here’s a list of what you can control:
- Your thoughts
- Your responses
- Your actions
58. Ask for help
You are not meant to do everything by yourself. If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for some help. You may connect with someone on a deeper level.
59. Train your intuition muscle
60. Spend some alone time with yourself
Throughout our life, we spend a lot of time alone. Make sure you enjoy your own company.
Goals: Love yourself by achieving your goals
61. Be ready to pivot
Things change all the time. Don’t be stuck on how to do something. Realign the strategy and keep moving forward.
Be comfortable in being uncomfortable.
62. Track your habits
It’s very important to track your progress and consistency whether it be for your goals or for your habits.
Related posts: How to transform your goals into habits.
63. Be consistent in anything you do
If you are consistent and disciplined, you can beat talent or skill. Success is the result of your habits rather than that of your skill.
64. Have routines for everything
I used to think I can never be disciplined enough to have a separate morning and night routine. I thought it was boring until I realized that routines are there to help you clear out mental space for more creative pursuits. When you don’t have a routine, you wake up each day and think about what else should I do to make this time more productive. You shouldn’t have to think about it. It should be planned ahead of time and slowly through action, those habits should become your second nature. You won’t like everything you do in your life. But you have to do it because it would yield good results in the long run.
65. Delayed gratification over instant gratification
Speaking of receiving results in the long run, question your whims. Think about whether these are there for your pleasure now or for the long gain? Is today’s pleasure giving way to long term suffering? If yes, think about what you can do for the sake of your future self. Routines help you do that. If you don’t have a routine, you probably won’t do those crucial things consistently and suffer later. And we don’t want that.
Space: Extend your self-love habits to your personal space
66. Have a home for everything
And I mean everything. You won’t lose your keys or scissors or glue if you have a place for it all. It will only make your life easier. If it helps you could make categories like ‘stationery’ or ‘cleaning supplies’ and put it in a basket. Trust me it will always be easy to find. Here’s the twist. Whenever you are done using the item, return it to its proper home. It’ll just take you 5 seconds longer.
67. Tidy as you go
This way you don’t have to feel overwhelmed when you actually start cleaning. And you space will look tidier all through the week instead of just at the end of the weekend.
68. Declutter your space
Find who you are without the material things you are hoarding. Your outside reflects your inside.
Related post: Declutter your space in under 30 minutes
69. Get yourself fresh flowers
It will uplift not only your mood and productivity but also enliven your space.
Related post: How to uplift your mood with fresh cut flowers
70. Decorate your space
Decluttering and cleaning are one thing but decorating and styling your space is a totally different ballgame. It doesn’t have to be your entire home, just a small space that you maybe use for relaxing. Put your favorite books, add some of your own character to it so you feel peaceful while you are in that space. You space should be an extension of who you are.
Energy work: Daily self-love habits to preserve your peace
71. Protect your energy
Often times there are people who you have to interact with but would rather not. They may be a work colleague or some friend of friend. Learning to protect your energy and not letting their words or actions get to you is key for maintaining your inner peace. Use this guided meditation to reinforce your own energy bubble.
I think I say this in every post now, that meditation and learning to sit with your thoughts is the most crucial aspect of self-love and self-care. Mindfulness is not a one and done practice but rather a consistent attempt to realign your thoughts and reality, pause and reflect on our emotions.
73. Mantra chanting or affirmations
The wellness community has bought affirmations and mantras to the forefront and now so many people swear by them. These words are our conscious effort to invigorate our body with positive vibrations and thoughts.
10 favorite self-love affirmations
Daily intention setting is my favorite part of the day. Here are 10 self-love affirmations that I use as a part of my self-love practice.
- I am loved deeply.
- I forgive myself for my past mistakes.
- I am the source of my own happiness.
- I love and respect my body and everything it enables me to do.
- I am grateful for my life.
- I am carving my own path.
- I control my thoughts and my reality.
- I am strong, assertive and creative.
- I am worthy for simply being me.
- I choose to live fully in each moment.
There you go. 73 self-love habits that will change your life. This is by no means an exhaustive list. I just want to point out again that don’t be mistaken on what self-love actually means.
Practicing self-love isn’t always as easy as lighting a candle or drawing yourself a nice little cozy bath. Learning to love yourself means doing things that are hard. It is going for a walk when you don’t feel like doing an intense work out because you know that’s what’s good for your body. It’s scheduling that dentist’s appointment that you know you’ve been putting on hold. Loving yourself doesn’t mean you should indulge your every whim. It means doing what you know will help you, will put you out of your comfort zone and help you grow. That is the power of self-love.
How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.― Rupi Kaur
Practicing daily self-love habits means you are prioritizing yourself including your physical, mental and emotional health. It’s holding yourself accountable in life. It is about being proactive in life rather than reactive. It’s about listening to that rational voice in your head which tells you what you need to do instead of the voice that tells you what you feel like doing.
That’s it for today. Tell me in comments below, which self-love habits are you prioritizing this year?