Self-Care: Love Languages

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Yesterday was Valentines Day which usually means we focus on those we love in our life (partners, friends) with flowers, big gestures, and date night. But when was the last time you showed some love for the most important person in your life – you?

Self-care and self-love have become more popular lately but I think sometimes they are greeted with an eye-roll as sometimes it seems that people use the term to just indulge in behaviours that may not be particularly healthy. To me, self-love means you treat yourself the same way you would treat someone that you love and care about in your life. Self-care is an act of self-love as you take active steps to improve your health, well-being and happiness.

A lot of people think getting a mani/pedi, having a bubble bath, or shopping is self-care. All those things can be self-care, but self-care also looks like setting healthy boundaries, asking for what you need, taking care of your physical needs, and eating healthy foods.

Self-care love languagesSelf-Love Languages

I was scrolling through Instagram the other day and one of my friends posted something about “Self-Love Languages”. You may have heard of the 5 Love Languages – it’s the idea that each person gives and receives love in a particular way (affirmations, physical touch, acts of service, time, or gifts). I’ve discussed my love language with partners in the past but I’ve never though about my self-love languages.

My Self-Care Journey

I have been trying to improve my self-care over the last 5 years or so. I started going to counselling regularly when I was 22 and that act of self-care has been incredibly important to me since. From that seed, other forms of self-care have grown into a routine. I block my email on my phone between 6pm and 8am and on weekends so I don’t “accidentally” get pulled into work, I meal prep on Sundays for the following week. I try to exercise at least 3 times a week and do at least one yoga class to help my body recover from all the other abuse I put it through. I used to go to massage and physio monthly for little tune-ups of aches and pains and I have been regularly attending counselling for the last 5 years.

The last few months of my life have been a bit of a whirlwind: I finished my Masters degree, immediately started instructing university level labs, I’ve been working on publishing my Masters work, my relationship went south, and I moved halfway across the country to be closer to family. All in four months. Let’s just say self-care and self-love took a bit of a back seat.

The stress of the last few months has caught up with me and I am feeling run down and unmotivated to do a lot of things. I work from home and often don’t have a reason to leave my house for a walk or fresh air (i.e. the commute is across my living room). I usually sleep pretty well, to the envy of my mom and sister, and am energized, ready to tackle my to do list but lately I have had some disordered sleeping habits.

I have been continuing some of the self-care routine (counselling, meal prep, and exercising maybe once a week) and have added in some more non-screen time (reading) and journaling. Now that I am settled in my new apartment and have a bit more of a regular life routine down, I am trying to revamp and revitalize my self-care.

The Plan

I have decided that I am committing to myself and my own self-care. I have been re-reading a book called The Ripple Effect by Dr. Greg Wells, an exercise physiologist at SickKids Hospital. The book is based on the idea that a bunch of small, 1% changes will have a ripple effect and change your life. It suggests sleep is the foundation – improving your sleep will improve your exercise and nutrition habits, which will help you think more clearly. Each section has 7 strategies to maximize sleep, exercise, diet, and thinking more clearly. I first read this book 18 months ago and made some tweaks but those habits have fallen by the wayside of late. I am going to work to gradually implement 1-2 strategies per week and hopefully they will accumulate and help me improve my self-care routine. Stay tuned for updates!

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