With all of life's hustle and bustle, it can be easy to forget about the most important person at the end of the day: yourself. Yes, we've all been bombarded with the self-love quotes and pop anthems, and we get it. But still — there are ways to love yourself that aren't cheesy. And quite simply, all it takes is doing a little something for yourself every day. It's the easy, simple, and totally do-able little things that make that much of a difference. You can comfortably work them into your daily routine because you should probably already be doing them anyway.
I'm not going to suggest that you kick it ancient-monk style and take up some rare practice of Zen meditation as you greet the sunrise or some other Eat Pray Love cliche. Because let's be real — most days, me loving myself is rewarding myself with that snooze button sometimes (all the time). But there's so much value in just allowing yourself to be happy and as a result, be a better person. And a lot of the times, it's the things we don't really think about. Maybe you don't need it in that very moment or it seems unnecessary, but by making a habit of doing those things for yourself every day, you'll definitely see an improvement.
1. Stop Justifying What You Want
Whether we don't think we deserve it or we think we'll be judged, many of us can have a tendency to editorialize our desires. We hold ourselves back, we think of excuses, and we tend to filter everything. As Alex Lickerman M.D. pointed out to Psychology Today, research suggests that our conscious minds aren't as in charge of the decisions we make as they are great rationalizers of them. But being honest with yourself and really honing in on what you want is so important. It's the first step to actually getting it. Because yes, you do deserve it.
2. Laugh Out Loud
LOL IRL. Life is funnier and your happiness can totally be measured by much more than a yellow emoji. Let the laughter out. You'd be surprised at how much a good ole' hearty chuckle can do for you. According to MindBodyGreen, laughter releases feel-good endorphins, reduces anxiety by releasing tension, and has a long-lasting relaxing effect on the body. Some other bonus points? It can act as a mini-workout by contracting those ab muscles and it's contagious, so you're spreading all of the love.
In the same Amy Schumer vein as laughter, smiling is another simple way we can influence our mood for the better. It's also contagious, makes us appear more trustworthy and approachable, and can help reduce stress. In fact, The Huffington Post pointed out that the habitual act of smiling can train your brain to think more positively. The brain is naturally inclined to think in negative terms as a defense mechanism, and according to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, making smiling an everyday thing helps our brains create happiness loops that encourage more positive-thinking patterns.
4. Make Something
Make yourself a healthy meal, a homemade latte, paint your nails, or tap into your Pinterest game and DIY the heck out of those crafts. Not only will you be saving yourself some money and practicing healthier eating habits, but making things with your hands promotes psychological well-being. For Psychology Today, Carrie Barron M.D. pointed to research conducted by Dr. Kelly Lambert which found that creating or tending things by hand enhances mental health and makes us happy. This is because hands-on work satisfies our primal need to make things and may be an antidote for our technologically-driven cultural angst.
5. Add A Lemon To Your Water
Not only will this encourage you to drink more water, but lemons are packed to the brim with nutrients. Lemon water, according to Lifehack, helps fight hunger cravings due to the pectin fiber, does wonders for your skin thanks to those antioxidants, flushes out toxins, and gives you a much needed energy boost, among many things. Plus, it's just a fun little way to spruce up your water and feel a little more fabulous when sipping on that H2O.
6. Give Yourself Some Me-Time
A little solitude in an age when we're so connected all the time is a breath of the freshest air for the soul. In fact, maybe take your me-time outside and get that revitalizing oxygen in your lungs. But Katrina Kenison pointed out something interesting and totally valid for O, The Oprah Magazine. She wrote that many of us feel compelled to measure our success in terms of acquisition and accomplishment. We can feel uncomfortable for claiming time for ourselves without an agenda, because we constantly feel the need to be doing something. Not only that, but dedicating some time only for ourselves can be intimidating for some due to being afraid of what they might find when left alone with their thoughts.
Yet there's nothing to be afraid of. Giving yourself this time will give your brain a break, let you think more clearly, and allows you the opportunity to get to know yourself sans the digital and social distractions and obligations.
7. Learn Something New
Every blessed day. Do your brain a favor and feed it some delicious knowledge, I promise you it'll only reward you. We're fortunate enough to have an infinite library of resources at our fingertips with a click of a button — why not tap it and take something for yourself? You're giving yourself something you didn't have yesterday. I'd say that's pretty gosh darn neat. Per BuzzFeed, check out some of these apps that will teach you something new every day. Make your world that much bigger.
8. Be With/Talk To Someone Who Makes You Happy
Just like going for the things you want, be with the people you love and who make your life better. We've all heard synonymous mantras to who you surround yourself with, you become, as Amy Chan pointed out for The Huffington Post. It's true and it makes sense. Of course, toxic people or people we just don't vibe with will inevitably cross our paths in life — in work, at school, through mutual friends, etc. But because we don't (yet) live in a world where we can block people in real life (Black Mirror's super creepy, brilliant Christmas special, anyone?), what we can do is take every opportunity to interact with those special people who bring out the best in us and remind us of all the things we have to be grateful for in our lives. Even amidst the chaos of a busy schedule, you can totally make the time for a quick phone call or a showering of emoji love.
9. Stretch It Out And Walk It Off
Exercise is good for you, blah blah blah. You know, you know. But almost as a rule for all good things you should do for yourself, it needs to be included on such lists. While you may not be able to hit up your SoulCycle or Pilates class every day, it's important to keep your body active and awake in little ways every day. If you're sitting in that office chair for hours on end, take the time to pause for mini stretches. WebMD recommended simple back stretches that reverse the pain of sitting at a desk all day. And just walking more has serious health benefits — whether it's taking the stairs or the scenic route — and can help clear your head and release any built up tension.
10. Forgive Yourself
We all screw up and tend to be our own worst critics. We are human and so naturally, as the ways of the universe go, we make mistakes. But hey — we're all in this hot mess together. So do yourself a favor and let go of any guilt you've been harboring, disappointment that may be getting you down, or even regret that you feel. Psychologist Fred Luskin, PhD, director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, told Prevention that the biggest obstacle he's found to self-forgiveness is the tendency we have to wallow in our own guilt, and recommended some great ways to overcome that.
11. Thank Yourself
And of course — never forget to thank yourself for all that you have done for yourself. Acknowledge your progress — no matter how big or how small — and remind yourself of all the awesome stuff that makes you who you are. Because while others can certainly thank you for a favor or just being a good person, gratitude for yourself is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself. So give it to yourself every day.
Alright, now go ahead and treat yourself to the best day(s) ever.