With Valentine’s Day looming, instead of thinking about all things couple-related or scrolling through one too many #couplegoals posts, it’s actually a great time to focus on you.
Being kind and loving yourself doesn’t necessarily mean going around telling everyone how amazing you are (even if it’s true!) Instead, it’s being self-aware of how you are treating yourself. By having a self-compassionate attitude towards yourself, you could actually achieve more and it will enable you to give more to others.
So if you’re thinking of ways to be kind to yourself this Valentine’s Day, check out Dr. Kristin Neff’s, University of California, TEDx Talk on ‘The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion’. In this inspiring talk, she establishes three core principles that are key to seeing yourself in a good light – by being kind to yourself, embracing common humanity and mindfulness. These principles are about treating yourself in a kind and loving way and by being fine with making mistakes and recognising your value in the world.
If you’re struggling with being too self-critical, don’t worry.
Research suggests that self-criticism actually decreases our motivation and instead, increases our stress levels. When being self-critical, it causes feelings of defeat and can cause a whole lot of stress for us and others. If you’re looking for some help with practicing positivity and self-compassion, there’s a bunch of fun exercises and guided meditations you could try.
And to help you even further, we’ve compiled a practical list on how you can love yourself more this Valentine’s Day and beyond:
- Treat yourself like you would a close friend: Be kind to yourself and use comforting language towards yourself.
- Give yourself permission to make a mistake: Embrace your imperfections and use them as learning tools rather than something to punish yourself for.
- Take time to recognise when you’re being self-critical: Recognise the language you use with yourself and try to become more aware of when you are being overly harsh. For example, instead of thinking “I only got 52 in my exam, I’m useless I can’t do this” try saying “I know I’m not happy with this mark because I think I can do better, but I did try hard and I need to acknowledge my efforts”. See how Harveen makes sure she stays healthy post-exams.
- Take a self-compassion break: A chance to take a mindfulness moment to acknowledge how you are feeling. Mindfulness is the concept of bringing your attention to the present moment. By being mindful. We notice how we really feel and are aware of how we speak to ourselves (have a read of Malaika’s Mindfulness 101 article).
- Try a short guided meditation: Apps such as Headspace provide short 3 minute meditations that can be the perfect break.
- Be around the people you love: Whether that is just chilling with your friends in your room, watching a movie or even giving a friend a call, being around people is the best way to better whenever you’re feeling down. If you want some cheap and fun ideas on things you could do this week with your friends, partner of even just yourself, check out Lydia’s Valentine’s Day ideas.
- Talk to someone: One of the worst thing you can do when struggling with a personal issue, is to keep it to yourself. If you need someone to talk to, chat with the Student Support team or visit one of the Counselling Service’s workshops and drop-in mindfulness sessions.