As we head into the first week of a brand new quarter, it’s a perfect chance for us to set goals and intentions for how we want to finish out the school year. This makes it an ideal time to talk about and prioritize something very important (and often neglected): self-love and self-care. These fluffy, trendy terms get a lot of hype in the wellness sphere. These words are often thrown around as if they are supposed to be the cure-all for stress and anxiety and the like. And while taking time to treat yourself is of course important, showing yourself self-love and care goes beyond simply carving out time to give yourself a bubble bath or watching a few episodes on Netflix.
The foundation of showing yourself the love you deserve is simply founded on one simple rule. We’ve all pounded the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself,” into our beings since childhood. But now, its time to re-learn and re-purpose it.
Do unto yourself as you do unto others.
We all have our insecurities, where we think we fall short, the things that nag us when we compare ourselves to others. But would we talk to a friend the way we talk to ourselves?
Would you look at a friend and tell her that her stomach looks pudgy in that dress? Would you tell your friend that he doesn’t measure up to those around him because he didn’t get the job he applied for or didn’t score as well as he had hoped on a test? Would you tell a friend that she wasn’t worthy, wasn’t beautiful?
Of course you wouldn’t. So why is it so easy to default to being a bully to ourselves? Why can it be so easy to berate ourselves into believing we are “less than” those around us?
Try this: If you wouldn’t treat others unnecessarily critically, if you wouldn’t devalue them or criticize them, don’t do it to yourself. That kind and caring thing you would say to your friend, that compliment you would say and truly mean, try saying that to yourself.
When stress heats up, so can self-deprecation, and self-love and care can fall by the wayside.
First, find that thing that makes you recharge, and allow yourself to make it a priority. What’s the one thing that centers you, clears your mind and allows you the outlet to express your creativity or to vent your emotions? Is it yoga or art or music? Whatever it might be, carve out time specifically in the middle of a busy week to ensure that you give yourself the gift of participating in something you really love. You deserve it, and you will thank yourself for it.
Second, write it down. Every day, take 30 seconds of your time to jot down two or three good things that happened that day or a few things that you are feeling grateful for that day. Not only does it take a minimal amount of time, but it will center you on the good and the really important things that can easily get lost in the mess of a stressful day. Reading back through these will not only help to remind you of the good that happens in your life but will remind you of your inspirations, while helping you to retrain negative thoughts into ones that focus on the positive.
Finally, realize that you have the power to show yourself as much love as you want. At the end of the day, you have full control over how you treat yourself. You have the power to ignore giving yourself care, and you have the power to pour as much love back into yourself as you want. You are undeniably your best advocate. You have the power to stand up for yourself, to take no less than you deserve, to give yourself grace and give yourself the type of love you share with your friends.
Do unto yourself as you do unto others. And while you’re at it, also take time for a nap, a bubble bath or a Netflix binge. You definitely deserve that too.
Contact Maggie Harriman at mpharrim ‘at’ stanford.edu.