Do you ever find yourself unconditionally pouring your love into people close to you, but in moments of burnout and exhaustion, you don’t really know what to do with yourself?
Often, it’s because we’ve forgotten the importance of self-love, or we just don’t know how to – and that’s why we’re here today!
Self-love is more than just a concept or trendy term you see on social media. There’s so much more to it! It’s a journey of nurturing, learning, and discovery. And it certainly takes more than a day to master.
We had the honor to speak with Nila Conzen, holistic coach, MSc. psychologist, and yoga teacher from Germany, who brings you the answers of all things self-love you’ve been waiting for, from how it’s related to self-care, to self-love practical tips you should try.
Self-Compassion before Self-Love?
We hear the words “self-love” and “self-care” used a lot in this day and age. But let’s be real, how much do we really know about the concepts?
That, Nila said, is a situation many of us may find ourselves in. “We get easily bombarded by messages of self-love and self-care so often we get lost in the process of finding the way that suits us best,” she said.
“In order to love ourselves more, it’s not just enough to repeat affirmations, but to also look at how we perceive ourselves and accept every part of ourselves before we can move on and start this self-love journey.”
To Nila, self-love and self-care can’t be talked about separately. “I believe both start with self-awareness and self-compassion, and that is to see ourselves exactly as we are at the moment,” she said.
One way to approach them, she recommended, is Kristin Neff’s “Three elements of self-compassion”.
Self-compassion is divided into 3 parts:
- Mindfulness – Being present with what we’re experiencing and seeing ourselves exactly as we are
- Kindness – Treating ourselves as we’d treat a loved one
- Common Humanity – Validating ourselves by recognizing we are not alone in our personal suffering
By practicing self-compassion, she said “we can easily access the sense of love and kindness that reside within all of us, and that’s how self-love and self-care are related.”
“By practicing self-care, we also automatically practice self-love.”
Self-Love & Self-Care: Am I doing it enough?
“You don’t have to know. You practice it daily,” is Nila’s answer to this question.
“Often, when we think about self-care and self-love, we’re in a really bad point already. When you’re really exhausted and worn down, that’s when you realise that you could use some self-care practice.” And that’s why it’s so important to practice the two daily.
We’re all unique beings, and self-love and self-care vary person to person and day to day. And so, instead of asking “Am I doing it enough?” or “Am I doing it correctly?” try to tap into your creativity and curiosity and find out what works for you.
“It’s important to acknowledge there is no one way that suits all,” she said. “Self-care and self-love can only be found within ourselves.”
Another tip from Nila is try not to say “should” too much. “We often know what’s good for us but sometimes we may not practice it,” she said. “The more we try to do something because we think we should do it, the more resistant we get.”
“Allow yourself time and space, there are so many ways.”
4 Self-Love Exercises to Try
Building a habit takes practice and patience. And self-love is no exception.
#1 Practice mindfulness
If you have trouble finding the space and time to practice self-love and self-care, Nila recommended this practice:
Witness yourself in the space between your thoughts, your feelings.
- Start by observing external space between objects – the two cars on the street, the two people standing in line.
- Then, practice it within yourself; one of the most common methods is meditation.
- Be observant of your feelings without identifying with them.
“Observe yourself because that’s where the magic happens,” she said, “the unknown is the medicine of finding ourselves and answers to questions we never ask.”
#2 Befriend our phones in a healthy way
“Sometimes we get so distracted by social media but we can use our phones as a daily reminder of, for example, taking a mindful minute. And you can use this time to tune in to yourself without having to open Instagram,” she recommended.
#3 Be playful, connect with nature
“Go outside, find something in nature that you admire, write about it. It could be a flower or a beautiful leaf falling down.”
#4 Reach out for help
Besides ways we can do to support ourselves, Nila said it’s equally important to reach out for help when we need it.