When we brainstorm our monthly editorial themes for THE/THIRTY, the goal is always to land on intentions that are both attainable and entirely malleable. It's our core belief that wellness is highly personal and ever-changing, which is why we like to empower our readers with ideas that can be shaped to their own circumstances and needs. And this notion rings especially true for our February objective: to practice self-love.
Self-love is complicated. It's not always self-like. In my personal opinion, it's definitely not looking in the mirror and declaring that I'm happy with every single part of me—that's simply not realistic. But it is knowing that I am, by definition, a complex being whose needs evolve on a daily basis, and that's a beautiful thing (even on those days when it feels messy and ugly). Coming to that conclusion—that I didn't have to like myself all the time to love myself—completely pushed me onto a path to self-acceptance. And now that I know that's my bottom line, I can better choose self-care and wellness rituals that contribute to that mindset (and forgive myself when I'm having an "off" day, which is always a plus).
But that's just me—and it's important to recognize that your journey might be entirely different. So with that in mind, we put the call out to our readers on social media about what self-love looks like to them, their own definition of the word, as well as the activities they swear by to show themselves some extra love. Read some of their enlightening answers below.
"For me, self-love is being able to look in the mirror and have compassion for myself. Then I reflect on a few things I am most proud of about me." — @josephineratluri
"To me, it means taking care of my mental, physical, and spiritual needs. [It's] making sure I'm not running on empty." — @kimblynpersaud
"Making time to do things that make me feel good—aka making time to meditate, to put on a face mask, go do my nails or my eyelashes, take a bath, write some poetry…" — @robykicks
"Self-love is more than putting yourself first—it's being mindful and purposeful of the action. At the base, alone time and being with myself are the greatest examples of how I show myself 'self-love,' mostly because I work in a never-ending digital world for work, so it's nice to just appreciate silence and be one with thought. The key and hardest part for me is following through and keeping the promise to myself." — Nicole
"Self-love to me means not putting myself down and saying I'm not good enough. [I'm] still a work in progress."— @fitnessqueen_kb
"[Self-love is] not being so hard on myself. Whether it's about food, exercise, school, etc. And doing things that feel 'extra special' like a face mask." — @sheenanigains
"I always find myself thinking about self care in terms of advocating for myself and slogging through to find resources that are available but not easily accessible. Taking the time to set up a payment plan for a bill that you've been avoiding because it is scary or talking to your boss or a mentor about how you're truly feeling about your career can feel overwhelming, but they're so rewarding." — Folu
"Self-love has meant acceptance. As an Afro-Latina, I never really fit into the Latin community nor the black community and it caused me to not like myself very much. After a long time, I learned to accept who I am and I began to love myself. I learned to take care of my skin, my hair, my body, and everything else that is me. I've finally gotten to a point where I've stopped wishing I was someone else and enjoyed being me, and for me, that's the ultimate self-love." —@adelfamarr
"Self-love to me is setting aside time to budget each month and pay my bills on time. Setting my life up to be successful. Also, a bath bomb here and there doesn't hurt." — @yournextb0ldmove
"To me, self-love is all about not being so hard on myself. Talking to myself in a supportive, loving voice. Taking the time to pay attention and stop myself from falling down the rabbit hole is so important. Its amazing what an effect it can have on your mood and actions when your inner voice matches your outer voice." — Emma
"No toxic thoughts about myself—just accepting and living my best life. [It's] also making it a priority to do things for myself such as yoga and meditation. I don't have to put myself last to be a good wife and mother." — @lori.king6486
As you can gather from these personal accounts, the best place to start is with some deep reflection about what the concept means to you: What makes you feel truly content? What mental obstacles tend to stand in the way? It might take some work, but the payoff is more than worth it.