Self-love can help boost resilience and confidence, decrease stress and improve relationships, experts say. And you don’t have to turn up the cheese factor to do that. Instead, try these surprising self-love practices.
Some self-love gurus make it seem like buying yourself flowers or writing "I'm beautiful" on your bathroom mirror is the secret to being happy and accepting yourself. No wonder so many of us are skeptics! But self-love can help boost resilience and confidence, decrease stress and improve relationships, experts say. "You must care enough about yourself to welcome the life that you deserve," says psychotherapist Joyce Marter, CEO of Urban Balance counseling practice. And you don't have to turn up the cheese factor to do that. Instead, try these surprising self-love practices.
1. Plan an Adventure
Whether you book a trip to take cooking classes in Italy or you book a reservation at a new Italian restaurant in your city doesn't matter. Both help because they shake you out of your normal routine, which can begin to feel boring and mundane. "Having something to look forward to promotes positivity and optimism," says Alexis Meads, a life coach and self-love and relationship specialist.
2. Make an Upbeat Morning Playlist
As you get ready in the morning, play songs that wake you up, make you feel excited and get you out of your head. For talk-show host and self-love expert Nitika Chopra, that's meditation music. But if pop is what makes you feel energized and ready to take on the day, cue up your Bruno Mars playlist.
Read more: 17 Ways to Have More Fun in the Morning
3. Work Out
The benefits of exercise have been proven over and over: It improves sleep, helps us focus better and decreases anxiety. But if you haven't used your gym membership in a few months, the last thing you may want to do is lace up your sneakers. Do it anyway. "To practice self-love, sometimes you have to do what you don't want to do," Meads says. Sign up for a class that sounds fun, or pair up with a friend. Or tell yourself you'll work out solo for 10 minutes — you'll likely go for longer.
Read more: The 20 Best Fitness Tips of All Time
4. Organize Your Apartment
How can a chore be an act of self-love? Because piles of laundry, unopened mail and other clutter can cause stress. "They're reminders of us as failures or things we haven't done enough of," Chopra says. "The more you can keep on top of that and have a clean space and clean energy at home, the more you'll feel healthier internally." If you struggle to toss things out, "keep only objects that have meaning, use or are beautiful to you," Marter says.
5. Have Sex
But don't just hop in bed and go through the motions. Have passionate sex. "Allowing passionate intimacy into your life is reflective of loving yourself enough to free yourself to connect with another person on a deeper level," Marter says. "When you love yourself, you accept yourself and allow yourself to be more vulnerable and open to fiery intimacy."
6. Say “No”
"In so many areas of our lives we overextend ourselves. We glorify being busy to the point of total exhaustion," Meads says. "Practicing self-love means that you need to know what your biggest priorities are and be able to say no to the rest." This way you have more energy to focus on the things that really matter to you without allowing yourself to get depleted.
Read more: 7 Ways to Set Clear Boundaries With People in Your Life
7. Host a Party
Invite friends, co-workers or that new neighbor over for a dinner party. Sure, it might induce some anxiety and push you out of your comfort zone — but that's the point! "Be aware that your inner critic may tell you it needs to be perfect or that you don't have great conversation skills," Meads says. "Don't let it!" she urges. Use this as an opportunity to get dressed up and connect with friends.
8. Practice a Hobby
As a kid maybe you sang in the choir, loved to bake or played on the soccer team. Whatever you used to do, practice it now. There are two reasons, Chopra says: First, focusing on a hobby gets you out of your head. Second, it connects you to something bigger than the issues you're facing right now. "It gets you out of your inbox, off your phone and connected to a different part of you," she says. Plus, doing something you enjoy naturally makes you feel good.
Read more: The 6 Healthiest Hobbies That Are Making a Comeback
9. Call Someone
"The more we can be of service, the more we'll be filled up in return," Chopra says. She suggests calling a friend or family member daily. Acknowledge something they did that has had an impact on you, tell them something that makes you proud of them or ask how you can support them.
Listen now: Why America's Obsession With 'Happiness' Is Totally Stressing Us Out
What Do YOU Think?
How do you practice self-love? Have you recently started focusing on self-care? What things relax you and make you happier? Let us know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.