Let me start off by asking: what kind of self-love blog post would this be if it didn't include a bubble bath? No, seriously. Think back and try to remember one self-love article that you've read that didn't mention taking some type of bath - bubbles or not. I think we can all be in mutual agreement that baths are one way to easily rid yourself of some of that daily stress that can weigh you down.
On that note, let's face it: the world can throw all of us some curveballs. That fact was made all too real to me after the passing of my father in October. Life can be a stone cold bitch. I wrestled with a bunch of very difficult questions about the purpose of being alive if it means that we have to endure pain and suffering. While that's still a valid question that creeps into my thoughts from time to time, I've started down a path of newfound understanding. Life has moments of suffocating darkness, but it can be worth it to stick around for the light. And I promise, the light will come.
While self-love can feel kind of cheesy if you're new to the practice, it can be well worth it. Embrace the cheesiness. Play with it and find what feels good. I could list twenty things and maybe none of them will work for you. Don't let that discourage you. Sometimes your pain might be too overwhelming for anything to feel good, and that's okay. Don't try to force something that's not working for you. Either try something new, or wait a while and come back to something to try again later. Whichever act of self-love you choose to perform, give yourself grace and patience.
Take a Bath
I told ya I'd have to include taking a bath! I, for one, never turn down the opportunity to take a bath because I love being in the water. I love pools, oceans, lakes - you name it. So while I can't easily swim in the winter months, I opt to take warm baths and read a good book. My therapist told me that putting a few cups of table salt in the bathtub can vastly improve your mood, so I gave that a try. And it worked! Of course it didn't cure all of my anxiety (that would really be a miracle), but it provided me with enough of a positive shift in my mood that I was able to relax and take my mind off of my swirling thoughts of grief and stress.
Other bath additions that you can try:
I know this has been said a million times, but do it! Drink the water. If you needed a reminder to hydrate today, this is it. I used to hate water and instead preferred sugary juices, soda, and sports drinks. Sugary drinks can negatively impact your health in so many ways, but it took me forever to kick my soda addiction. I tried to ease my way out of it, but that resulted in me not being able to cut soda out at all. I'd find myself saying, "I'll just have one more before I quit" or "Treat yo'self!"
In order to actually make a change, I had to quit cold turkey. It was super challenging at first, especially because my wife, Katherine, still drinks Coke. As time went on, I actually found myself enjoying water (crazy, I know!) and craving it instead of soda. Now, it's easy to allow myself to treat myself to a Dr. Pepper every once in a while. I make it a rule that whenever we eat at El Maguey (one of our favorite Mexican restaurants), I allow myself to order a Dr. Pepper because for whatever reason, their soda tastes the best.
So my challenge to you is to cut out whatever your drink addiction is - soda, coffee, wine, etc. - and swap it out for a glass of water or unsweetened, decaffeinated tea. Find whatever way works for you - whether that's taking baby steps and swapping out one drink a day for water, or taking the plunge like I did and quitting cold turkey.
I am new to yoga, I’ll admit it. A true beginner. But that doesn’t stop me from getting on my mat almost every morning to start my day in the downward dog position. I didn’t begin practicing yoga until the week after my dad died. I was looking for any positive resource to grasp onto and my therapist suggested that I try it. I was skeptical at first because I am not flexible in the slightest. I can’t even touch my toes, which was a real bummer during physical fitness testing when I was a kid. I always ran the fastest mile in grade school, but “sit and reach” was my downfall. But despite that, I still commit to trying my best at yoga poses.
What I’ve learned is that yoga doesn’t have to be about forming the prettiest poses. For me, I’ve learned how to be in touch with my body and recognize how my physical self stores my various emotions. So often, we don’t connect the two (the emotional and the physical). Yoga helps me check in with my body, release a lot of my stress, and accept life for what it is.
Write in a Gratitude Journal
Practicing gratitude has been a life changer for me. It's so difficult not to get sucked into a downward spiral, especially in this political climate. I don't know about about you, but the news has been getting me down lately. And when I say lately, I really mean for the past few years. Or really, forever. There are days when I have to avoid Facebook and put my phone aside because it’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in the chaos that seems to take up my entire social media feed. I don’t think that alienating myself from the outside world is the solution to my problems, but I do think it’s important to allow ourselves to take breaks.
No matter how chaotic or depressing life can sometimes be, there is always something to be thankful for. Some days it might be something small, like saying “I’m thankful that there are dogs in the world.” Other days, you will have more things to add to your list. It doesn’t matter if you have one thing or 500 things. Practicing gratitude is about the shift in your mindset and positive thinking. It has really helped me to focus on the good instead of the bad. I can now acknowledge the bad without getting so wrapped up in it or overwhelmed.
Katherine bought me this cool thing called Aqua Notes, which is a waterproof notepad that we have hanging up in our shower. The shower is where I do most of my thinking, which can sometimes be a bad thing if I’m focused on the negative aspects of my life. To break me of that, I’ve started writing lists of things that I’m grateful for. I try to write a new list as often as possible, and definitely on the days where I’m feeling sad, angry, scared, or overwhelmed by my thoughts and emotions. It’s a great way to refocus and remind myself that no matter how bad life can get, I always have a reason to be grateful.
Read a Book
Reading is the best way to transport yourself to another world. You can live within the characters and take a break from the problems going on in your own life. It’s really worth it to put down your phone, turn off Netflix, put your gaming controller down, and open up a good book. If you are dealing with a lot of heavy stuff, like trauma or grief, I recommend returning to a book (or book series) that you’ve already read and that’s provided comfort for you in the past. I’ve recently returned to the Harry Potter series because you can’t go wrong with those books. The feeling of nostalgia that I get while reading Harry Potter is like returning to a childhood friend that I haven’t seen in years.
So my questions for you today are: What ways do you practice self-love? Do you take the time to practice these things daily?