The month of February is behind us, also known as the month of love. A month full of candy, roses, massive stuffed animals, and dinner reservations.  However, let’s concentrate on something else this March. Let us concentrate on ourselves and our bright, shiny, glittery, hearts. Contrary to what some people think, self-love is not selfish or indulgent. Instead, it’s essential in order to have a healthy mind and body. Self-love essentially means having a positive regard for your own well-being and happiness. When we adopt an attitude of self-love, we have higher levels of self-esteem, we are less critical and harsh with ourselves, and we’re able to celebrate our positive qualities while accepting our negative ones. In addition, a major benefit to learning to love and appreciate ourselves is that we are more likely to have fulfilling and healthy relationships with others. It is understandable that many struggle with finding ways to cultivate self-love in their daily routine because unfortunately we put ourselves on the back-burner. Thus, listed below are a few suggestions on how to concentrate on some self-love and making YOU a priority.

1.     Learn to be compassionate with yourself.  For many, it’s more natural to be compassionate towards friends and family than it is towards ourselves. Work on eliminating critical and harsh self-talk. Imagining what you would say to a friend in the same situation should help with developing skills for positive self-talk.

2.     Enjoy time alone. Whether it be taking a walk in the park, going out for a nice meal, or seeing a great movie, learning to enjoy your own company and doing activities you enjoy when you're alone is crucial for cultivating self-love.

3.     Make a list of the characteristics you like about yourself. Too often, we get caught up with only thinking about what it is we don’t like about ourselves and what we wish we could change. For most of us, recognizing and appreciating our positive qualities takes effort and practice. Set aside time to read this list daily.

4.     Celebrate your accomplishments. No matter how big or small our successes or accomplishments are, it’s important to feel worthy of celebrating them. Celebrating our accomplishments reinforces our acknowledgement and integration of our positive qualities.

5.     Allow yourself to ask for help when needed. We all need help when life gets challenging and when we feel overwhelmed. Most of life’s challenges can’t be tackled alone. Allowing yourself to seek help from a trusted friend or professional reflects self-love. Asking for help is an important way to take care of ourselves.

6.     Go on a Social Media hiatus. Turn off your television and avoid getting sucked into the black hole of scrolling.

7.     Cook a meal for yourself. Enjoy the process of creating and smelling and tasting something new.

8.     Meditate! Meditation connects the body and mind on an entirely different level. There’s a kind of vulnerability that shines through when you spend time completely by yourself, because it’s just you and your thoughts and the quiet of the moment.

9.     Pamper yourself with wellness treatments.

 Remember, self-love is important to living well and being well. It influences who you pick for a mate, the image you project at work, and how you cope with the problems in your life. It is so important to your welfare that I want you to know how to bring more of it into your life.

Latonya Bell