By Gina McSheffrey-Emmons, PhD

With Valentine’s Day approaching, we tend to think of those special people in our lives whom we care about and love. We want to show how much we appreciate them by buying them a card, some chocolates, flowers, or by doing something special for them. These are all nice things we can do for others to celebrate Valentine’s day, but what about taking the time each day to treat ourselves the way we would others?

Sometimes we are not as kind to ourselves as we are to those around us. In today’s busy world, we often forget about taking care of ourselves and even loving ourselves. Self-love is the act of unconditionally loving yourself no matter what the situation. Practicing self-love can be difficult especially if you are a parent, a caretaker, or in a helping profession where you often put others’ needs above your own. You can start by taking a little time each day to do something for you. Here are a few simple tips to help you practice self-love:

  1. Take the time to do something you love and enjoy each day
  2. Take care of your physical and mental well-being by eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, meditating, and seeking support/counseling when needed
  3. Forgive yourself for past mistakes—you are stronger because of them
  4. Change your mind set by embracing your differences instead of letting them weigh you down; let go of the self-judgment and criticism
  5. Make positive changes instead of staying stuck and thinking things will never change
  6. Allow yourself to inspire others and be inspired
  7. Be open to taking chances and trying new things
  8. Don’t let others define you or your happiness; stand by and own your opinions and ideas; don’t let others’ views/beliefs overtake yours
  9. Accept and love who you are and where you are in your life
  10. Say something positive to yourself each day and reflect on the positive aspects of your day

Self-love is not a selfish act; it is an act of necessity. If we do not love and take care of ourselves then we cannot truly be there for others when they need us. We are in a better position to give to others when we care for ourselves. This Valentine’s Day, decide what your gift to yourself will be. You can write yourself a positive message, you can do something special just for you, or you can just buy yourself some flowers! When it comes down to it, the best gift of all is taking the time to love yourself!