2020, amirite? Navigating a global pandemic, quarantine, civil uprising, economic struggle…it’s no secret that last year was a tumultuous time. As we step out of what was a very tumultuous year for us all, focusing on self-renewal and healing has never been more important.
As women, we’ve been programmed to believe that needs of others come before our own. Add being a plus-size woman on top of that and it only adds an additional layer of expectation. And while in current times we are being called to show up for our families and communities more than ever… it shouldn’t come at the cost of neglecting ourselves. After all, you can’t give from a well that’s empty.
Self-love has become a buzz word we’re all familiar with. But what does it actually mean? What does it look like as a day-to-day practice? We’ve all heard the homage of self-love being a spa day or taking a day off from work. But there are so many things you can do to show yourself some tender love and care. It’s about taking whatever action nurtures you. Physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Remember that you are worth loving. You deserve the same care, support and attention you’d give to a friend, family member, or lover. So carve out some time and show yourself some love! Develop a practice that will make you feel revived and nurtured. At the end of the day, you’ll be glad you did.
That being said, here my top eight habits I’ll lean into to love myself fiercely this year:
1: Take a bath!
And I’m not talking about your daily shower…Taking a moment to unwind is maybe the most radical act of self-love you can do. Adding epsom salt to the water can relieve muscle aches, cleanse your aura of negative energy and give your body a big dose of magnesium. When I’m really looking to romance me, I add candles, fresh flowers and scented salts. For very little money I feel so luxurious!
2: Wear lingerie… for no one but you!
Who says lingerie is only for a romantic partner? Nothing brings me greater joy than gallivanting around my apartment in anything silky and sexy. There’s just something magical about wearing lingerie. It completely transforms the way I move and the way I feel. I love catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and admiring the way my curves look. Wearing something hot makes even the most mundane tasks fun and playful.
3: Say NO.
There have been several times in my life where I’ve pushed myself too far and felt obligated to take on projects, overcommit my time and over-expended my energy. I felt like the needs of others were more important. Through my practice of self-love, I’ve learned that you can’t give your best to those you love, if you, yourself are not fulfilled. So… let a co-worker take on that extra project. Tell your friends you can’t go out. Tell your family you love them, but you need to take time for you. Sometimes saying NO to something (that doesn’t serve you) is the best thing you can do.
4: Express yourself
If you have something on your mind, in your heart, speak it. Repressing our feelings and experiences is a violation of self. Your feelings deserve to be heard and you are worthy of speaking your truth, and having people listen. So often we want to glaze past communicating our emotions (particularly the hard ones). But our feelings are important teachers. They are the tool to help us understand our desires.
Movement is medicine—but movement is also different for everyone. Some people love working out, others hate it. For a long time, I thought I hated exercising. This mostly came from my experiences being plus-size in middle and high school PE classes. But as I’ve gotten older I really enjoy the gym and see exercise as a time for me to be alone and connect with my body. I’ve taken to stretching and having solo dance parties in my living room. I highly recommend blaring your favorite music and dancing your booty off. I guarantee you’ll feel better!
6: Get some sun on your skin
Did you know that Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression? If you have access to a pool or beach, great! Get out there(safely)! But if you don’t, sitting in the sunlight indoors or outdoors works wonders!
7: Be kind
Why is it we hold ourselves to much stricter expectations than we do others? Why is it we say things to ourselves that we would NEVER say to someone we love?
Do we not deserve the same grace? The same kindness? You’re a work in progress. We all are. Somedays are highs, some are lows but regardless, remember…kindness isn’t just for others. It’s for you, too.
8: Take yourself on a date
This is my favorite form of self-love. I’ve yet to meet a man who knows how to take me out, the way I take me out. Whether it’s a day adventure, getting dressed-up for a dinner out, or a morning spent home in lingerie, eating a decadent breakfast in bed. Romance yourself the way you would a lover. We deserve to give this to ourselves.
As with most things self-love is a “different strokes for different folks” situation. See what works for you. Again, prioritizing yourself doesn’t make you selfish, it shows those around you that you love yourself enough to invest in your own well-being. When you acknowledge your worth, you set an example for those around you to do the same.
Anastasia is a fashion photographer and body positive activist in located in New York City.
*Photo Credits: Headshot and Date Night look shot by Katie Thompson.