If I'm honest, my life feels overscheduled right now. I find myself turning down social invitations because having one more thing on my calendar makes me feel tight and restricted. It's not ideal, but for the short-term, I know these long hours are what are going to allow me to achieve my dream of taking my side hustle full-time.
But when life is busy and every day feels packed to the brim, our self-care is often the first thing to fall by the wayside. I'm currently prioritizing having more unstructured time for myself on the docket but this isn't possible every day.
I love how Sarah's "2 minute, 5 minute, 10 minute, 30 minute blog building action plan" demonstrated that no matter how much time you have available, there's something you can do that will greatly improve the quality of your blog. And I want to show you that the same thing is true for cultivating self-love.
Last week I wrote about why we can't do it all (and why I, for one, don't want to). Rather than trying to do ALL the personal development things, I asked you to focus in one area of your life and one action you can do to improve it. After that, anything else is a bonus.
But when we're busy, stressed, and overwhelmed, even finding time to focus on that one thing can feel like a struggle.
So whether you're wondering how to fill those "bonus" pockets of time throughout your day or can't figure out what act of self-love you could possibly fit into your busy schedule, here are some ideas to inspire you.
2 minute acts of self-love
- Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and tune into how your feeling. Acknowledge this feeling by saying: "I'm feeling ___________ and that's okay. By allowing ourselves to acknowledge and feel our feelings, we let them run their natural course. Remember: what you resist, persists. So rather than struggling against your feelings, make space to be with them and bring a sense of acceptance for where you are right now in this present moment.
- List three things you're grateful for in your life right now. You can say them in your mind, jot them in a note in your phone, or write them on a scrap of paper. Cultivating gratitude for your life helps create a deep sense of self-acceptance, which is the foundation of self-love.
- Transform a negative, fearful thought by committing to believing something more positive. For example, "I am willing to see love instead of this" or "I am committed to seeing abundance in all areas of my life." Fearful thinking has the ability to pull us into a downwards spiral and all of a sudden we're stuck in negative thought patterns and obsessive thinking. By consciously choosing another thought it's like we hit the "abort" button and beginning to change those deeply ingrained patterns. Rather than lying to yourself and repeating a thought that isn't true (like "Everything's glitter and rainbows all of the time") using the progressive language I've suggested will allow you to introduce a more hopeful thought without lying to yourself (which would give your inner critic the opportunity to call "bullshit!)
- Send a thank you note to someone who has inspired you recently. It only takes a couple of minutes to pop off a few lines telling someone that something they've done or created meant a lot to you. You can feel good knowing it will make their day and it will also help you foster the attitude of gratitude that makes for some serious self-loving.
- Take three long, deep breaths. Often a deep breath is all we need to refocus our minds, push out unwanted thoughts, and look at things a little bit more clearly.
5 minute acts of self-love
- Meditate. When you find yourself with some serious monkey mind and spend five minutes just focusing on your breath (it can even be in a bathroom stall). When your mind wanders just say "thinking" in your head and return to noticing the rhythm of your breath entering and exiting your body. This is a simple way to refuel and recharge. I'll often sit for five minutes when I get home from work as it makes a way to "enter" this separate part of the day with a clearer mind.
- Choose a mantra for yourself and repeat it over and over in your mind. Our thoughts create our feelings and our feelings create our actions, so in that way, your thoughts literally create your reality. By repeating a positive mantra to ourselves we start to reprogram some of the neural pathways in our minds so that we're less likely to slip back into old, fear-based thinking. (Meggan offers great advice for using this tool in our episode of Punk Rock Personal Development).
- Print out an inspiring quote and post it by your workplace. This is an easy way to make the place where you spend so much time each day feel more personal, interesting, and empowered. Make your space your own and allow it to help lift you up!
- Dab some essential oils on your wrist and inhale deeply. Scents have such a powerful effect on our emotions. I like to keep a couple of bottles of essential oils in my bag so that I can grab a whiff for a little boost whenever I need it. I find lime and grapefruit are both particularly uplifting.
- Give yourself a massage and imprint love on your body. Dr. Masaru Emoto found that by taping different words to bottles of water, the water appeared to "change its expression" (essentially, it looks drastically different under a microscope)." Loving words created beautiful, complex patterns while negative words resulted in incomplete, asymmetrical patterns. Since our bodies are 70% water it seems reasonable that we have a similar reaction to words. Self-massage is a beautiful way to begin loving your body and by imagining yourself imprinting love on your flesh and repeating "I love you, I love you, I love" over and over in your mind, you can begin to change how your body feels.
- Do a quick "unfollow" spree of any social media accounts that inspire comparisonitis in you or make you feel "less than." It doesn't matter who they are or if they're the kindest person in the world, if following them doesn't make you feel good, unfollow! It's our responsibility to consume the things that make us feel good (Laura wrote a great post about this). If something makes us insecure, we don't have to look at it. Our time would be better spent getting to the root of those insecurities and dealing with them. So let's actively curate a list of people to follow that make us feel inspired, empowered, and like the badasses we are.
- Move your body in a way that feels good while listening to your favourite song. You know how you can feel love, anger, shame, and joy physically? That's because emotions are stored in the body. By moving our bodies we can help ourselves process these emotions so that they can run their natural course. Sometimes that might mean dancing wildly, sometimes it might mean dancing very, very slowly, while at other times it could mean rolling around beating your fists on the ground. Move in a way that feels right and good for you in this moment (Jayne explained this really well in our interview).
- Write all of your goals down. I re-write each of my goals every Sunday. The process of writing them down rather than just reading them helps activate something in my mind so that they're at the forefront of my thinking. That way, as I'm planning my week, I make sure that my actions are in service of my goals. Plus, this gives me the opportunity to reevaluate whether I want to modify or abandon any of my goals and take stock of what I've accomplished throughout the week.
- Look at your bank balance. When we avoid dealing with our finances, we keep ourselves in the dark and this can easily perpetuate scarcity-based thinking. It only takes a few minutes to see how much money is in your account and rather than letting that make you feel tight or restricted, simply using it as a guide post for monitoring your spending.
10 minute acts of self-love
- Take a slight detour and pick up a bunch of flowers on your way home from work. Give yourself the things you desire rather waiting for someone else to give them to you (and thus handing them your power on a silver tray). Plus, fresh blooms are an easy way to make any room a little cheerier.
- Make a batch of raw chocolate. Cacao helps us open our hearts so, yes, chocolate can actually be medicine (but only when it's the real deal). I use 1/4 cup raw cacao powder, 1/4 cup cocoa butter, 1/4 cup maple syrup + 1 tbsp coconut oil melted in a double boiler, whisked together thoroughly, and then set in silicon ice cube trays. Easy and so delicious!
- Draw a tarot card and reflect on what it means for your day. Examining the meaning of the cards is an easy way to tap into our own thought processes and start uncovering our expectations, hopes, desires, and fears.
- Watch an inspiring TED talk. We face so much negative crap on a daily basis, both from the outside world and our own minds. Sometimes we just need a snappy burst of inspiring content that will help us look at things in new ways, introduce powerful practices for us to try, and offer creative solutions to the problems we're facing. Among my favourite TED talks are Elizabeth Gilbert on Creative Genius, Brene Brown on Vulnerability, Cameron Russell on why looks aren't everything, and Amy Cuddy on Body Language.
- Masturbate. Yep, self-love at its most literal. There are so many benefits to self-pleasure: learning what we like sexually (so we can ask for it from a lover), that feel-good rush of endorphins that climax brings, and perhaps most importantly, reconnecting with our own bodies in a very physical way (Betsy and I chat about all of this in-depth in our episode of Punk Rock Personal Development. She's an orgasm expert so she definitely knows her stuff!)
- Start your morning with a daily check-in: set an intention for how you want to feel, identify your top 3 priorities for the day, and commit to a non-negotiable act of self-care. Bringing a sense of intention to my days always makes me feel less scattered. And when I've made a commitment to do something for myself I'm much more likely to stick with it than if I just wait for the days when I "have time" (because spoiler: there will always be other things to do that seem to trump self-care).
- Tidy up your desk or room. Being in a tidy space makes me feel calmer and it can also help us to be more productive. It's amazing what a difference a few minutes spent putting things away, straightening things up, and throwing out rubbish can make for the way a room looks and feels.
20 minute acts of self-love
- Read a chapter from a self-help book that speaks to you. Make a list of ways you can begin implementing the content you've read (Related: How to Make the Most of a Book or Course & Actually Apply it to Your Life.)
- Practice the forgiveness meditations. Forgiveness is such an abstract concept and so often we avoid it because it seems like we're letting the other person "win." That we're condoning their behaviour if we forgive.But forgiveness is a gift to ourselves. It's more about us, than the other person. It allows us to drop that heavy baggage and truly step forward. To intentionally choose our response. To really heal and release the negative energy once and for all. To move on, if you will. These meditations allow you to take the abstract concept of forgiveness and actually begin practicing it in your life so you no longer have to carry around the heavy baggage of hurt and resentment (oh, and they're free).
- Write in your journal about something you've been struggling with. Ask your intuition (or spirit) for guidance.
Part of beginning to love yourself is learning that you don't need to look outside of yourself for answers. You have the wisdom inside of you. This can be as simple as writing down a question and then, without self-censoring or editing, putting your pen to paper and seeing what comes up. For a step-by-step process to get into the right mindset for intuitive journalling, listen to my interview with Meggan Watterson.
- Make a list of people you admire. Identify the qualities in them that you aspire to and then brainstorm 3 small actions you can take to begin cultivating them in yourself. What we admire in other people is a reflection of our own potentia, of those inner parts of ourselves that are yearning to burst free. By taking small steps, like wearing red lipstick to cultivate glamour or performing random acts of kindness to cultivate generosity, we can begin to draw out these characteristics in ourselves.
- Start a list of everything you love about yourself and are currently grateful for in your life. So much self-help content is designed to help us change ourselves, but true self-love can only exist when we learn to accept ourselves and our lives exactly as they are right here, right now. This exercise can be difficult and should be ongoing but by starting with 20 minutes you'll force yourself to crack beneath the surface to start looking a bit deeper at yourself and your life. As you create your list, you'll be wrapping yourself up in a feeling of love that you can carry with you anywhere.
30 minute acts of self-love
- Clear out your wardrobe of anything that doesn't fit or make you feel how you want to feel. I did this recently after gaining a dress size. It became so much easier to feel good about my body when I wasn't wearing clothes that pinched and squeezed me into strange shapes. You should dress in a way that feels good. There's no sense in holding onto something because it might be useful one day or out of guilt for being wasteful. And while I tucked a few of my favourite vintage pieces away for safe keeping, everything else went to the charity shop. That way other people could benefit from my wardrobe purge as well.
- Colour in a mandala. This is a simple and playful form of meditation that helps release our inner child while we calm our minds. There are plenty of free ones that you can print out; check out PrintMandala.com and see which one you're most drawn to.
- Take an Epsom salt bath. It will help soothe your muscles and draw toxins out of your skin. You can also make a ritual out of it. While sitting in the bath, talk out loud about anything negative going on in your life: fears, old patterns, and anything you want to let go of. And when you drain the water, picture it carrying all of that old stuff away with it (remember: visualization is powerful and talking through your issues out loud, even to yourself, can be a powerful form of release).
- Try "Automatic Writing." Simply put your pen down on a blank page and take a few deep breaths to centre your mind. Then wait for your hand to move and see what comes out. It might be words or images or mostly scribbles. Stick with it until your hand stops of its own accord and then analyze what you've written.
- Do a round of EFT. I think of this as almost like doing talk therapy with yourself. The premise is simple: you talk about an issue going on in your life while tapping on meridian points on your body and affirming that you wholly and completely love and accept yourself. The key is to go as deep as you can. Keep pulling back the layers and uncovering the hidden feelings, fears, and causes that underlie this issue. Processing all of this stuff is a powerful way to release it. For a full explanation of EFT and how to do it, visit TheTappingSolution.com.
- Make a list of your fears. Most of us have been repeating the same fears to ourselves for our entire lives. They're looping around our mind like a broken record but we don't really notice them. We've accepted them as gospel. When they do surface, our automatic reaction is usually to push them down and hide them away. But when we do this, we allow them to fester and grow until we can't keep them down anymore. Looking at our fears strips away their power. It allows us to ask whether they're really true or whether they represent a wound from our past that we haven't healed yet. Once you know your fears intimately you can begin to decide what new beliefs you'd like to replace them with (we go through this process in a very in-depth way in my ecourse, Romance Yourself).
- Prep a batch of soup, chilli, or salad that you can keep in the fridge for easy, healthy meals this week. Food is our fuel and it's literally the building blocks of our bodies. When we eat delicious, nourishing foods we honour ourselves. Prepping meals in advance is an easy way to have healthy food on hand so that you can continue to take care of yourself even when life gets busy.
- Create an action plan for your biggest dream. When we take action on the things that we want, we build confidence and courage. Plus, we begin creating the life that we desire. Even if your dream feels to big to get started on, you can use this step-by-step process to create an action plan that feels manageable.
- Make a budget. Money might not seem spiritual or even important to our personal growth but for many of us, our deepest fears are tied up around money. Specifically not having enough of it. Spending beyond our means is not loving. It's not a way to take care of ourselves. Improving our financial literacy and learning to stick to a budget is an important step for dismantling our fears, taking control of our lives, and making our dreams come true. (Related: Using a Cash Budget for Fun, Frivolity, & Freedom.)