10 Ways to Practise Self-Love

… on Valentine’s Day or any day of the year, really!

10 ways to practise self-love, on Valentine's Day and everyday | The Good Living Blog #betterliving #selflove

The day of red roses and chocolates is almost here upon us (but really, shouldn’t every day be a day of red roses and chocolates???!!!???) Anyway, you know what I mean!

AT and I, we don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day in any big way, except maybe to go out for dinner together. Growing up, I had kinda insane expectations about how Valentine’s Day should be celebrated, but I think over time you learn that a) you don’t really need grand gestures on a particular day to prove your love to someone, and b) it’s really just a massive marketing hype!

Grown up scepticism aside, one thing I have realised over time is that learning to love yourself is as important as demonstrating your love for someone else. And this has nothing to do with being in a relationship or not. I think I am waaayyyyy happier in my relationship with others (romantic or otherwise) when I am happy and at peace with myself. Days when I am upset with myself are usually the very days when I am rather prickly with others.

So here’s the thing – however you choose to spend Valentine’s Day (or not) – with your partner, or friends, or even by yourself, you’ve gotta learn to take some time to love yourself. I’ve got a few suggestions for you on how you can practise self-love today and everyday:

1 | Learn to accept yourself – I cannot think of any one person around me who is flawless every single day. And clearly, neither am I. We all make mistakes, we all have our shortcomings, we are not perfect. Learning to accept yourself is not about not wanting to become better, but about acknowledging that you are enough the way you are, and that you can continue to work on aspects where you feel the need to be better.

You want specifics? Okay, here goes. I enjoy cooking. I don’t do a lot of it, but on the days that I do, usually the weekends, I love the whole process of it. I don’t consider myself a great cook, but I would say that seven times out of ten, I make a good (but simple) meal. I could beat myself up not coming up with something as good the remaining three times and serving my family not-so-great-tasting food (trust me, I’ve done it plenty of times!!!), however, I’ve learnt over time to not fall into that trap. I put my heart into what I am cooking, and usually that’s good enough, and sometimes it’s not. And that’s okay! I will continue to practice more and learn to make better dishes, but in the process of becoming better at cooking, I will not berate myself for not being good enough already!!!

2 | Surround yourself with people who nourish you – Do yourself a favour, and learn to dissociate yourself from the toxic people in your life. The ones who make you feel bad about yourself. The ones that are always and forever negative about everything. No, you don’t need yes-men or yes-women in your life only, but you’d want your inner circle to be made of people who will love you for who you are, and yet practice tough love when the need arises.

3 | Buy good shoes – No, seriously, I mean it. It’s taken me forever to come to this realisation but shoes are kind of your best (fashion) friends (I say kind of, because really, books are the best non-animate best friends, period). Okay, coming back to the shoes. They are so non-judgemental, right? They don’t care whether you’ve put on weight or you’ve lost weight. They fit, always. And they can totally jazz up even the most basic outfits. One of my things last year was to buy good shoes – the kinda shoes that made me feel good wearing them (not those ones with an impossibly high stiletto that I would not be able to stand in for even 5 minutes!) – and it was one of my favourite things I did for myself.

4 | Get intentional about “me” time – I become unbelievably cranky without sufficient “me” time. I love my space and am incredibly fortunate to have a partner who completely respects and understands that. In this current season of life, my definition of “me” time is indulging in some retail therapy, working on this blog, spending time on my memory keeping projects and reading. I am also a textbook introvert, so I really need a little bit of space to myself to be truly engaged when I am with others.

However it is that you define it, learn to appreciate that a little bit of “me” time is essential to truly recharge yourself; otherwise you really are working yourself up to a massive case of burnout.

5 | Write a letter to your younger self – Borrow a page (or two) from Victoria Beckham and write a letter to your younger self. One of my favourite magazine articles from last year was this letter that she wrote to her 18-year-old self for British Vogue (read it – it’s laced with enough humour, personal anecdotes and life lessons to resonate with all of us!), and over the weekend, I wrote one to my 18-year-old self as well (jeeezzzzz, how naive was I!), and it was such a liberating experience to see how much I’ve grown and achieved, both personally and professionally. I highly recommend that you try it too.

6 | Practise gratitude – One of my senior colleagues at work mentioned that the first thing he does every morning on waking up is to go to the bedroom window, look outside, fold his hands in prayer, and thank God for the opportunity to see a new day. I found that to be an incredibly powerful gratitude statement, and since then, I’ve tried to become a little more intentional about practising gratitude myself. Practising gratitude is a simple way to silence the internal and external negative chatter, because truly, even on the worst of days, we have much to be thankful for. Start a little gratitude habit to enhance your own happiness.

In this week’s newsletter (my first, really!), I’ll be sharing what is my current favourite gratitude app (and I’ve tried a LOT of them!). Sign up here, if you haven’t already.

7 | Learn to say no – Again, something from the workplace. One of my bosses once remarked to me that we’ve got to become better at saying no, not because we don’t want to work, but because our time is precious and we should not let ourselves or others forget it. So sensible, right? I’m sure if you think hard enough you will come up with at least a dozen instances where saying “no” would have improved your day/life. I’ll admit, I still struggle with this. I’m a bit of a people pleaser and often say “yes” to things / events out of sheer politeness and then complain incessantly. I’m trying to get better at this – because really, if I don’t respect my time, why will anyone else?

8 | Laugh out loud – Life can be hard, and we all have our own daily struggles and challenges. But a life without some fun and laughter would become unbearable, no? Seek out your funny friend, or see a funny movie, or browse through hundreds of cat and puppy videos on YouTube – whatever it is that brings a smile to your face and makes you laugh – do that, and then do it some more.

9 | Declutter your mind and your space – I find it quite difficult to work and think when everything around me is a literal mess. Sure, I’ve sometimes used “cleaning up” as a form of procrastination (please tell me I’m not the only one!), but seriously though, I’ve found that even a little bit of tidying up helps me be more productive at work. And no, my desk (or room) isn’t always spick and span, but I do spend some time every week straightening up things and discarding/donating things that I longer have use for.

And similarly, when my mind is too heavy with angry or hurtful thoughts, I find it difficult to focus on the present and end up in a dreadful spiral of dark thoughts. In such situations, I’ve found that journaling really, really helps. Ever since I’ve started using the Simplenote app on my phone, I’ve become a lot more regular with my journaling. Another tool I should mention is art journaling. I haven’t done that in a while, but on some of my really, really dark days (and we all have those), I find myself reaching for my art journal, somewhat like how you would scramble along the walls if you’re suddenly thrown into a dark, dark room, trying to find the light switch.

10 | Invest in your body – I kept this one for the very end because it’s my biggest struggle. I don’t think anyone of us is unaware how important a healthy body is, but often times, out of sheer laziness, we (okay, I!!!) choose to make it our last priority. At least until we’re confronted with some massive warning or scare. In the last few weeks, I’ve taken some baby steps towards improving my healthy and fitness (I’ve started working out, albeit, at a much slower pace than what I’d want) and it’s one of my key focus areas this year. I still have a long way to go, but we won’t get anywhere if we don’t even start, right? Kudos to those of you who are already working on your fitness, and to those of who you’re struggling, trust me, I know what it feels like. Try doing just one good thing for your body today – like drink 8 glasses of water – and keep adding to it each day. And I’m really a quick email away if you want to share your experience / frustrations with someone!


Phew, that turned out a bit long, no? If you want a TL;DR version, here’s what you should know – you need to love yourself, people, and you need to accept and invest in yourself. All relationships take time and effort, so why won’t you do that in your relationship with yourself??? And if there is just one thing you take away from this post, know this – you are enough, and you are worth it.

So go on, have a great time on Valentine’s Day, and every other day too! :)

Also, do read VB’s letter to her 18-year-old self. It’s really quite good. And funny. And solid.

{Image via Unplash / Alexandra Seinet}