Be Thy Valentine
This February, embark on self-care and learn to nourish the most important person in your life
When Valentine’s Day comes around, most people typically think that it’s about expressing romantic love towards their other halves. But hey, what’s stopping you from practicing self-love for that someone special in your life – you?
“It’s not selfish to take care of yourself first,” shares Adeline Tien, who teaches Restorative Yoga at The Yoga School. “What good are you, if your patience is wearing thin and you feel your nerves fraying while your temper keeps rising?
How well can you really function when your senses are overworked and your body is exhausted?
Adeline explains further by pointing out how flight safety briefs are conducted. “Have you noticed how you’re always taught to put on your own oxygen mask first before putting on your child’s?” she asks, adding, “Similarly, by learning to take care of your wellbeing first, you’re putting yourself in a better position to properly take care of others.”
To keep up with our fast-paced lifestyles and hectic workloads, many of us don’t think twice about neglecting our needs and putting self-care on the back burner, but really, how can we love others if we don’t learn to truly nourish and care for ourselves first? Prioritising quality sleep and setting aside “me-time” may not sound like much, but these often overlooked basics are key ways of respecting your body and nurturing it with the love it needs (and deserves).
So in celebration of love and affection this month, let’s start getting comfortable with taking time to recharge, re-centre, and re-energise ourselves. Here’re three things we can start doing today to incorporate simple self-care into our daily routines:
“Being busy is not a badge of honour,” says Dr Daniel Amen, in his book Change Your Brain. Contrary to common belief, workaholism is not a virtue. The fact is, you can’t be everything to everyone, and that’s okay. When you’re overworked and exhausted, you become less productive and more disorganised. Remember that you need not agree to everything you are asked to do, so think before you reply and consider if you have sufficient resources to take up the task.
EMBRACE THE ARTS
Research shows that gazing at pretty art triggers your brain’s pleasure centres, so instead of scrolling mindlessly through social media sites the next time you find yourself staring at the screen of your smartphone, try feeding your senses with the beauty of aesthetic arts. Technology today is so advanced that you don’t even need to leave your seat – just head over to www.GoogleArtProject.com and start immersing yourself in 360-degree virtual tours of world-class museums like The Met and Tate Britain.
START A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
Oprah Winfrey kept a gratitude journal and for a full decade, she would write about five things she was grateful for every day, without fail. Psychologists say seeing the good in life is beneficial. Researchers have also found that expressing gratitude can have many positive effects, such as helping to improve sleep, manage depression, and even increasing your pain tolerance. Dr Alex Korb, a neuroscientist at UCLA, explains that this is because the act of expressing gratitude activates your hypothalamus, a part of your brain that controls a range of different body functions and emotional regulation. But here’s the really awesome bit – expressing gratitude also activates parts of your brain which are related to the release of dopamine (a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness). So when you start keeping a gratitude journal, you effectively being a dopamine cycle which motivates you to notice the positive stuff in your life.
Getting started is easy – simply use a notebook (or if you prefer to go digital, try a gratitude app, like Thankfulfor or Gratitude Journal) to jot down three things you’re grateful for every night. And don’t just create superficial “shopping list”-type entries – identify the “why” behind your feelings of gratitude, and try to involve at least one other person in your points.