7 Exercises to Cultivate More Self-Love
It seems like everybody and their mother is preaching the importance of self-love these days.
“You need to be your own best friend!”
“You have to love yourself unconditionally before anyone else could ever love you properly!”
“Girl, treat yo’self!”
And while that’s all well and good, I have something I’d like to add to the conversation.
Because here’s the thing. When you’ve fallen out of love with yourself, practicing and experiencing self-love is a whole lot easier said than done. You can’t just snap your fingers and suddenly you’re totally in love with yourself and your life. Sure, you can pretend — but deep down, you still feel resistance around loving yourself unconditionally.
And I’ve been there. In fact, I still am there, sometimes. But that’s because self-love also isn’t a one-and-done type thing. It’s not like you check a bunch of items off of a list and POOF — you’re head over heels for yourself and you will be until the day you die.
In my opinion, self-love is more of a practice than something you “achieve” or “accomplish”. Self-love is something that needs cultivating. A relationship that, like any other relationship, needs to be nurtured and watered and tended to with loving care.
Today, in honor of Valentine’s Day (I’m initially posting this on February 14!), I want to help you zero in on the most important person in your life — Y-O-U — and show her the love that she deserves.
Below I’ve shared 7 exercises that will help you cultivate and experience more self-love, starting today. These are all action-focused exercises, because I’ve found that a lot of the time, the quickest way to change your internal state is to change something in your external state. In other words, sometimes taking action is the easiest and quickest way to shift your internal thoughts and feelings.
If you’ve been feeling a little down on yourself lately (you’re not alone!) or if you simply know that your relationship with yourself could use a little tending to (again, this needs to be a regular thing, not just a once-off practice, so you’re on the right track), I hope you’ll try out at least one of the exercises below and then report back on how it goes for you.
7 Exercises to Cultivate More Self-Love
1. Make a list of 30 things you love about yourself.
We’re getting back to basics with this one.
All I want you to do is grab a pen and a piece of paper, sit down, and don’t get back up until you have at least 30 things written down on your list. They can be physical traits you like, aspects of your personality, or anything else that you love about yourself.
Why does this work? Well, think about it this way. When you’ve been in a relationship with a partner or spouse for a while, it’s not uncommon to forget about all of the amazing traits your partner has. You simply begin to overlook them or take them for granted, because they’re just the “norm”. The same thing goes for the relationship you have with yourself. This “30 things I love about me” exercise serves to remind you of just how awesome and beautiful and talented you truly are!
But what if I can’t think of 30 things!?
Just try! If you get stuck, think about situations in your life where you’re proud of the outcome. For example: graduating from college, getting married, starting a business, having kids.
What did you bring to each of those situations that helped them turn out so well? Maybe it was your creativity and work ethic that helped you graduate with a 4.0 GPA. Or maybe you’re proud of yourself for taking your big dreams of starting a business and working from home and turning them into reality.
Anything counts! Write it down, no matter how big or small. Then, if you’re feeling extra brave and self-lovey, post your list somewhere where you’ll see it every single day (for example, your bedside table, the bathroom mirror, or the wall in your office).
2. ...Then, turn your list into a love letter.
To step this up a level, you can take the list you just made and turn it into a love letter… to YOURSELF! Pretend you’re writing a heartfelt note to your lover, and be sure to expound upon all the reasons you love them (yourself) and why they’re (you’re) so amazing. Get poetic with it, if you like, or keep it totally casual.
For extra brownie points, why not write the letter on fancy paper, spritz it with perfume, stick it in an envelope, and mail it to yourself? What a fun thing to get in the mail!
3. Give yourself a massage.
In today’s super fast-paced, hyper-digital world, so many of us have become super disconnected from our bodies. The only time we’re somewhat tapped in is when we’re aggressively throwing weights around at a gym or taking a quick 2 minutes in the morning to sip our coffee in silence.
But it truly is so important to be HERE, in this moment, in your body. And on top of that, to show your hard-working body some mother-effing love and gratitude!
Today, I want you to spend a good 10-15 minutes loving on your body by giving yourself a massage. Sit or lie down in a comfy position, and start the massage at your feet, really taking the time to rub out all the sore spots. Say “thank you,” to each body part as you move the massage up your body, finally ending at your neck and head.
It’s not uncommon to feel a bit emotional or even start crying when you do this exercise, especially if you’ve been out of touch with your body for a long time. Take those emotions as a sign that you’re releasing negative energy and truly connecting into what matters most: YOU.
4. Take yourself out on a hot date.
Whether it’s Valentine’s Day when you’re reading this or any other day of the year, it’s the PERFECT day to schedule yourself in for a little date — with yourself!
It doesn’t matter what you do on your date, as long as it’s something you love doing. It could be taking yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant, going to a movie, hitting up the beach, or even just browsing your favorite bookstore and grabbing a coffee afterwards.
The most important thing to bring to this exercise is a clear intention. If you feel a bit silly or awkward being out in public on your own, remind yourself of WHY you’re doing this. AKA: Because you’re amazing and gorgeous and you deserve to be treated and loved on! And you don’t need a man/partner/spouse/friend/anyone else to give you the first-class treatment you deserve — you can give it to yourself, every day.
5. Make a list of your recent accomplishments and CELEBRATE them!
Us entrepreneurs have the tendency to achieve something exciting in our business or life, relish in it for a mere .865 seconds, and then move on to the next thing on our to-do list without a second thought. We rarely stop to give ourself the huge high-five and props that we deserve, and this can be really detrimental to not only your self-love, but also your ability to manifest bigger and better things in your life.
For this exercise, grab your journal and write down 3-5 things that you’ve accomplished recently. These can be super big things, like selling out a launch or losing 20 pounds, or they can be “smaller” things like cooking yourself a healthy lunch today instead of getting McDonalds. Big or small, every win counts just the same — and every win deserves to be celebrated.
Speaking of celebrating, once you’ve written down your 3-5 things, it’s time to plan your CELEBRATION!! Pop some bubbly in your honor. Order those books that have been sitting in your Amazon cart for months. Throw yourself a freakin’ PARTY — because you deserve it, babe!
I mean it. Don’t skip the second part of this exercise and just make a list of your accomplishments and move on. Actually take time to feel into each accomplishment, let yourself feel super proud and excited about them, and then do something super fun to celebrate.
6. Create a Forgiveness List… and then burn it.
One of the biggest things that can hinder self-love is holding too tightly onto negative things from your past. Times when you failed, or times did something you weren’t proud of and later regretted, or times when you simply made a mistake. Hanging onto those memories is blocking your self-love, so it’s time to let them go.
Get out your journal and start by making a big list of all the negative memories that have been lingering around in your head. Maybe it was the time you messed up on a work or school assignment. Maybe it was the time you hurt your partner or upset your kids. Maybe it was a boo-boo you made in your business.
Once you’ve created your list (and really take your time with this — there’s no rush), it’s time to LET. THAT. ISH. GO. And it all starts with the decision to finally forgive yourself for what happened and the role you played in it.
Start by revisiting each of the memories in turn, and after each one, simply say to yourself (out loud): “I forgive you.”
I forgive you for messing up.
I forgive you for making that mistake.
I forgive you for holding onto this memory for so long, even though it’s been hindering your self-love.
Then, to go the extra mile, get a match or a lighter and (safely) burn your list to release all of those memories into the ether. Ahhhh. Doesn’t that feel better?
7. Have a luxurious self-care day.
Self-care is one of the best ways to show yourself some love, and it really doesn’t have to be complicated. To me, self-care simply means figuring out what YOU need (your body, your soul, your mind), and then finding ways to give yourself what you need.
At least once a month, I like to have a dedicated self-care day — meaning I don’t do anything else on those days but focus on myself.
What you do on your designated self-care day will be different from person to person, but some of the things I enjoy doing on mine are:
Taking a bubble bath
Going for a walk by the water
Again, it’s totally up to you what you want to do on your self-care day. Just make sure you excuse yourself from other responsibilities and obligations (for example, no business stuff, no cleaning or housework, etc.) — just for this one day. Trust me, all of that other stuff will be waiting for you when you get back the next day. 😉
Your turn, babe!
Which of these 7 exercises will you be trying out? Choose at least one to take for a spin! You clicked into this blog post because your intuition was guiding you to focus a bit more on self-love. Each of these exercises has the potential to transform your relationship with yourself and welcome more self-love into your life, and there’s no better time to get started than right now.
If you do try out some of them (or even all 7!), let me know down below how it goes for you. I would love to hear!