Why does cupid get all the attention on Valentine’s Day? There’s more to love than just loving another. We’re talking about self-love.
With all this love talk, we think it’s the perfect time to take a look inward and do an inventory. In what ways are you showing yourself some love? What areas could use a little boost?
In this guide, we’ll give you the practical how-to on self-love and self-care without the fluff (okay, maybe just a touch of fluff), as well as a curated product guide containing the essentials to get started showing up for yourself with some l.o.v.e.
What is self-love?
First thing’s first: what is it? Yes, doing a weekly mani-pedi or face mask are both ways to give yourself a little TLC, but they aren’t the whole self-love picture. Self-love is loving and taking care of mind (aka your emotions), body, and soul. It’s the whole enchilada. And not just taking care of them – loving them, unapologetically and (moving toward) completely.
What’s the difference between self-love and self-care?
Self-care is one way in which self-love can manifest itself, and self-care actions are ways in which you can boost feelings of self-love. But taking amazing bubble baths and doing weekly face masks don’t necessarily mean you love your skin or your body. That requires not just having an amazing skincare regimen, but going deeper to dive into truly loving your body, as well as your spirit and your mind.
How can I practice self-love?
Keyword: Practice. Self-love isn’t a destination. It’s making consistent choices each and every day that demonstrate you know your own worth and that you’re willing to act in ways that honor your self-worth. That doesn’t mean selfish decisions or decisions that are always easy. In fact, sometimes acting in self-love means making hard decisions (like choosing to move or break up with a partner) or acting with someone else’s best interest in mind, which can boost self-esteem (like compromising with a partner to keep a relationship healthy or taking care of a sick loved one).
Thinking of self-love as a journey, as opposed to a destination can take the pressure off. You get an opportunity to act with self-love every time you make a decision – and consistently making choices that are in line with your values and in your best interest is what self-love looks like on the ground.
Our top 15 ways to practice self-love
Self-Love On-the-Ground Tips:
Curated Self-Love Essentials
This moisturizer, shaped like a stone, is comprised of deeply moisturizing ingredients like cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, with chamomile and lavender added to lull you to sleep. Kate McLeod recommends using this as a nightly ritual and we couldn’t agree more. Building in time for a mindful self-massage, even just a couple minutes, can help you decompress and reset before falling into slumber.
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
Burnout is essential reading for every woman in the modern age of working too hard and resting too little. Authors Emily and Amelia gather research from numerous disciplines, distilling and translating it into achievable and actionable steps to reduce stress in your life. They do it all with humor, empathy, and awareness of the unique challenges women face. The first sentence of the book reads: “This is a book for any woman who has felt overwhelmed and exhausted by everything she had to do, and yet still worried she was not doing ‘enough.’” Ring any bells? This book’s for you.
Annmarie Skin Care
Gua sha – translated roughly as “raking” – is an ancient Chinese technique where therapists apply pressure to the body or face using handheld tools to increase blood and lymph flow. Devotees swear they’ve seen clearer skin, less inflammation, and tighter skin, but one of the biggest benefits is deep relaxation. The movements should be intentional, gently forcing you to be present and slow down. The technique does require a little bit of prep research and mindfulness to get it down, but gua sha enthusiasts – a MADE SAFE staffer included – swear it’s worth the time.
Your affirmations, intentions to set boundaries, self-love rituals, gratitude journaling, and daily musings need an attractive and functional home. We like Decomposition notebooks – they’re affordable and made with 100 percent post-consumer waste and soy ink. A beautiful vessel for life’s beautiful messiness. Don’t forget to review what you write often – frequently re-visiting goals is more likely to help you stay on track.
Everyone practices their own flavor of “self-love.” If an at-home spa day or lounging around at home is your flavor, Coyuchi’s Organic Waffle Robe will level up your practice. Comprised of 100% organic cotton, it gets softer with each wash and is gentle on the planet too.
If masks are your go-to “me moment,” why not expand your repertoire to a body mask? Your body needs to feel the love too! Might we recommend you spend your time while masking reflecting on all of the amazing things your body does for you and allows you to do?
The potential benefits of meditation are abundant – reduced stress and anxiety, more mindfulness and presence in everyday life, increased clarity and calm, improved focus, more compassion… the list goes on. And while we know it’s good for us, meditation can just feel hard. Where do you even start? How do you do it? For how long? Headspace makes it easy for beginners and established practitioners alike with beginner tutorials, themed courses, single meditations, SOS meditations, and even mindful activities like cleaning or walking. You choose the length – as little as one minute (which is totally enough to reset, by the way) and up to twenty.
Saladish: A Crunchier, Grainier, Herbier, Heartier, Tastier Way with Vegetables
As an admirer of New York’s City Bakery, MADE SAFE founder Amy Ziff was thrilled when Chef Ilene Rosen published Saladish. After the bakery closed some years back, Ilene’s addictive vegetable-forward dishes were once again within reach. Saladish is the perfect way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet that you actually want to eat. With page after page of enticing recipes, Saladish will make your self-love goal of eating well easier and much, much more enjoyable.
Brentwood Home’s Luxury Organic Cotton Sateen Finish Sheets (in either 400 or 600 thread count) are next level eco-luxury. Consider them a good reason to embrace the might of the power nap and the rejuvenating effect of lazy Sundays in bed. Remember that rest is not a privilege; it’s a necessity!
Working toward loving and appreciating your body is an important aspect of self-love, and AH! YES’s personal lubricants are a perfect tool to help you in your quest. They’re made with MADE SAFE and organic certified ingredients for an experience that’s gentle on the most sensitive parts of your body and the planet.
How much time do you spend on your phone? It might be more than you think… Flipd helps you regain control of your time by showing you how much time you’ve spent away and on your phone. The goal isn’t zero screen time, but rather to bring mindfulness into your approach so that the time you do spend is conscious and intentional. Flipd not your thing? There are numerous other apps to help you detox from your phone. Try: AppDetox, Freedom, or Off the Grid.
Diffuse calming essential oils like lavender, vetiver and cedarwood to send yourself to la la land. Or mist it on your pillow! We recommend incorporating the blend into a nightly ritual that helps you wind down, reflect, and serves as a signal to your body that it’s time for rest.
Yes, this guide is focused on the self, but surprisingly, focusing outward and helping others can increase self-love, self-confidence, and connection. Giving back to your community can increase feelings of compassion and understanding, working with others can make you feel more connected, and learning new skills can create feelings of self-confidence. It might feel counterintuitive, but going outward can help you go inward. There are numerous other ways beyond Idealist to find opportunities to volunteer. Try VolunteerMatch.Org, reaching out to local faith-based communities, local charities that you know and admire like the Humane Society or food banks, or asking friends where they volunteer.
Sleep game not so strong? Upgrade your pillow to a nontoxic, sustainable one from Naturepedic. Getting enough Zzz’s is crucial for so many reasons – reducing stress, allowing your body to perform rejuvenating and healing functions, and feeling alive and engaged. Facilitate good sleep with a good pillow. And if you really want to up the ante, consider swapping your mattress for one of Naturepedic’s MADE SAFE certified mattresses.
The mask is the OG of self-care. Slather on this mask made with acids and enzymes from plants like bilberry, orange, and lemon while soaking in a hot bath. Exfoliates with no scrubbing required! This classic self-care ritual is classic for a reason; supercharge it by masking with a favorite book, a phone call with your bestie, or listing all of the ways you’re powerful.
If self-love for you takes the form of giving your body a little TLC, you may want to consider if you’re getting all of your essential vitamins and nutrients. If not, a vitamin might be right for you. We love mykind Organics. Choose from multivitamins, organic herbals (like elderberry and turmeric) and targeted nutrients (like Vitamin C and B12) when you need a little extra boost. They’re certified USDA organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan, use plant-based binders, and get their sweetness from organic fruit. (Remember to consult your doc before taking any new vitamins or supplements!)
Meetup, an online platform, helps you find events, groups, and movements in your area – from knitting clubs and board game nights to ultimate frisbee and wine enthusiasts. You can even create a group of your own if you can’t yet find what you’re looking for.
* Note: These products are staff favorites and not MADE SAFE certified.