Practicing Self-Love

Reflections on balancing between true self-care and justified overindulgence.

by Sarah Sunday

Self-love and self-care is a concept that reverberates within pop culture now, perhaps now more than ever before. We find ourselves within a culture that, through media and public channels, focuses greatly on individuality and personal well-being. Treating yourself, centering yourself, and taking care of yourself are all things that are encouraged and celebrated, becoming models of personal social success. Accordingly, taking to social media platforms to boast the new clothes you’ve purchased, the spa day you’re experiencing, or the food you’re treating yourself to have all become common interpretations of self-care and self-love. And of course it is true: taking care of yourself and practicing self-love is hugely imperative in achieving a healthy lifestyle. 

However, the concept of self-care via social media, versus the actual practice of what true self-care is for you as an individual, are vastly different. Remaining true to yourself and to the daily practices which benefit your mental, physical, and even spiritual health is an individual journey for each of us. What lies in store along that journey are promises of personal growth, peace, and happiness.

Whether you find your home in the quiet suburbs, the even quieter country, or the hustle and bustle of a rumbling city, the art of self-care is something that does not come of its own accord, but rather with deliberate effort. It is something which requires work and practice, and to truly know how to exercise self-care, you must first understand the things which benefit your body and mind, and the things that inevitably do harm to them.

“To truly know how to exercise self-care, you must first understand the things which benefit your body and mind, and the things that inevitably do harm to them.”

Self-love can easily be mistaken with self-indulgence. Buying yourself a new item of clothing, spending the evening home watching movies and shows, or snacking on that one treat you’ve been craving, can all be forms of caring for yourself; however, moderation is key. Each of us knows when we are practicing healthy habits which are positively affecting us, or when we are engaging in an activity that temporarily makes us feel good, but in the long term is detrimental to our wellbeing. Regularly over-eating sugary or salty snacks is not treating yourself, it is compromising your physical health. Buying new things every time you find yourself disheartened or upset can settle into an unhealthy coping mechanism. Spending every night away from others and rooted to your couch or bed is ultimately not benefiting your mental or physical health. 

There are a great number of ways in which we can treat our body and mind kindly. Some methods of self-care are simpler than others, such as taking a hot bubble bath, painting your nails a new shade, or taking an afternoon nap. And then there are the things which often take more effort, but benefit you not just momentarily, but further down the line. These are self-care habits that might not seem quite as fun as having a personal spa day, but are truly loving towards you and your future. These are things such as making a list to plan out your daily goals, financing and personal budgeting to ensure proper spending, taking your daily vitamins, or practicing one form of exercise throughout the day (whether that be stretching, walking, or taking to the gym). Some others are remaining socially aware of the issues around you and giving back where you can, such as volunteering, donating, or simply sharing important issues via word of mouth or social media. On an even simpler level, you can spread love and give compliments to those in your life, not only because it benefits them, but because actions like that have a subsequent effect on our own lives. 

Forms of self-communication also have some of the most inherently deep rooting effects of self-love and discovery. Praying, speaking love to yourself in affirmations, journalling, meditation, reminding yourself of the things you are grateful for, or simply spending quiet time spent on reflection help us to process our thoughts, understand the ways in which we react to certain situations, and to come closer to grasping the complexities of our being. This is a key step in self-love, as it lends itself to identifying and establishing how other forms of self-love influence us. 

Self-love is not lazy and it is not always simple. True self-care goes beyond a momentary feel-good, or a photograph captured to share with our followers. Remaining true to yourself and your journey through personal betterment, especially in such a fast-paced and hectic world, is beautifully challenging and marvelously difficult. Yet, the outcome, those moments of clarity and perception in times both turbulent and tranquil, are the reason that we practice true self-love and care; so that we as individuals might find ourselves more well-rounded, wise, and therefore, happier. 

Sarah Sunday is an NYC based writer.