By Nina Chatzistergiou,
Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, as well as psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love means to have high regard for your own well-being and happiness. It means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others, generally not settling for less than you deserve. It may mean something different for each person, due to the fact that each of us has different ways to take care of ourselves. Figuring out what self-love looks like for you as an individual is an important factor, that directly affects your mental health.
One way we get self-love wrong is that we equate it with self-care. The two are strongly intertwined but do not represent the same thing. In reality, one is a proportion of the other. For many people, self-love is another way to say self-care. To practice self-care, we often need to go back to the basics, listen to our bodies, take breaks from work to move or stretch, put the phone down, and connect to ourselves or others, or do something creative. Eat healthily, but sometimes indulge in your favorite foods. Self-care encompasses all the things we need to do to care for ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It can range from basic health, such as cleaning our teeth and going to bed at a reasonable time, to the things that help us feel better but are not perhaps as essential, such as setting some time aside to read a book or treating ourselves to our favorite bubble bath.
Self-love, on the other hand, is all about unconditionally accepting ourselves. It includes how we talk to ourselves, our feelings about ourselves, and some of our actions. It is not about thinking that every single part of our personality and body is fabulous, it is about loving ourselves despite any perceived imperfections. When we talk about caring for ourselves physically, emotionally, and mentally, we’re talking about looking after ourselves. This means starting with our basic needs and working up. Our basic needs include feeling safe, secure, and warm, taking our medication as prescribed, having adequate food and water, and getting enough rest. Once we’ve covered our basic needs, we move on to things like creating healthy boundaries, managing our relationships, coping with money and bills, keeping our living space clean, being creative, learning, and working towards our full potential.
There is a misconception that self-care has to cost a fortune. Bath bombs, pampering sessions, and spa days could all form part of our self-care. But self-care is much broader and will differ from person to person. Pretty often, when people are described as someone who ‘loves themselves’, it is in a negative context. There is a misconception that loving ourselves means we are boastful, self-important, and have an overly inflated opinion of ourselves.
We use the term ‘self-love’ differently. When we use it, we are talking about caressing ourselves, caring for ourselves, being kind to ourselves. Seeing ourselves as worthy, realizing we deserve to be comfortable and okay. We do not believe these things because we are egotistical, self-important, or vain, but because we deserve to be loved, cared for, and okay.