Self-love may seem like a trendy term, but it’s essential for overall health and wellness. And if you’re just spending hours on hours in the gym without putting any emphasis on the mental side of things, well, you could be missing out. In fact, people who are more self-compassionate practice healthy habits—like eating better, exercising more, getting more restful sleep, and stressing less—more often, according to an analysis done by Bishop’s University in Quebec.
Whether or not you’re attached, this Valentine’s Day is as good a time as any to stop, reflect, and give yourself a little extra compassion. Here, wellness professionals offer up essential tips for practicing self-love, from Valentine’s Day and beyond.
1. Take some time to travel solo
“I practice self-love by traveling alone,” says Rebecca Kennedy, Peloton Tread master instructor. “It nourishes my soul in a way that increases my productivity, elevates my serotonin and dopamine levels, and increases my knowledge base. It also forces me to rely on myself and be OK with the quietness.”
2. Start a journal
“When I started keeping a five-minute journal where I list daily affirmations, everything changed,” said Bar Malik, director of performance for the New York Knicks. “Write down positive things you like about yourself and things you are working on daily to help you become the person you want to become.”
3. Find flow
“As a fitness professional, I give a lot of energy to other people throughout the day,” says Alex Silver-Fagan, Nike master trainer and author of Get Strong for Women. “The way I recharge and give myself some self-love is by scheduling time throughout the week, hopefully once a day if I can manage, to get my own yoga practice in. Yoga lets me refocus and hit the reset button.”
4. Take time to learn yourself
“Getting to know yourself is worth it,” says Jaycee Gossett, a founding teacher at The Class by Taryn Toomey. “Getting to know what you need and when you need it is potent medicine. If you don’t know what that information is for you yet, ask yourself what you yearn for another to do for you. Say, give, reaffirm, value, celebrate, or acknowledge in you what you want someone else to see. And then take a deep breath in and give yourself that gift. You as a champion for you.”
5. Speak kindly to yourself
“Even if you eat healthy, work out enough, sleep enough, and ‘take care’ of yourself in all the ways that you should, none of that matters if the inner dialogue you’re having with yourself is negative,” says Hillary Wright, director of continuing education at Y7 Studio. “If the way that you speak to yourself while you do all of these ‘healthy’ things is negative, then all of those experiences will also be negative. If you’re gentle with yourself and speak to yourself in the way that you would speak to your dearest friend, then you will start to cultivate that self-love in a way that lasts, not just in your best moments, but also in your hardest moments.”
6. Find time for fitness
“I hit the gym and studio six days a week,” says Amanda Kimble, a teacher at Lyons Den Power Yoga. “I practice yoga, I lift weights—if I have a long day I will sometimes do both. Working out can be therapy for anyone. For me personally, I release all the drama out with every chaturanga, crescent lunge twist, or kettlebell swing, and feel completely recharged after a good sweat. Sometimes self-love is easy and effortless, but when you work for it—it can be that much sweeter.”
7. Set goals
“I constantly check in with myself and write down three major accomplishments to date in three categories: fitness, professional life, and personal life,” says Jamey Powell, instructor at Swerve Fitness. “To set goals and have your eyes on the horizon is important, but taking a second to reflect on the badass things you’ve done and how they make you feel is key. Remember: You’re doing amazing; keep it up.”
8. Celebrate the small stuff
“I always tell clients to celebrate the small things,” says Ben Sweeney, coach at Brick New York. “Whether it’s a five-pound personal record or one second faster on your mile run, you should always be proud. You worked hard for every extra pound and every second you took off, and that is something to celebrate in itself.”
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