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In the true spirit of Valentine’s Day, celebrating the love you have for the people in your life is extremely important. But it’s just as important to love and cherish yourself. This V-Day, the best treat you can give yourself goes beyond chocolate-covered strawberries and expensive roses (not that you shouldn’t get those for yourself). It’s the feeling of having your life together. The beauty of contentment and independence all starts with genuine self-care. 

Actually, it starts from the moment you realize that genuine self-care is more than face masks and wine once a week. Though those are some of the methods you can use to unwind and give yourself a moment of relaxation, self-care is more closely defined as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness.” This means face masks and wine once a week is not sufficient self-care. 

So what does real self-care look like?  I would say that real self-care is a process that will lead you to experience utmost contentment no matter where you are in life. It’s about creating harmony in all aspects of your life and continuously maintaining balance. Self-care means bettering yourself so that you are the happiest and healthiest person you can be.

Though this might look different for everyone, I will be sharing my personal list of self-care actions that I’m following in order to reach internal peace and love. I hope you will incorporate some parts into your own self-care plans to unlock and maximize your fullest potential, allowing you to live your life and love yourself. 

  1. Analyze yourself and try to break any bad habits you feel you may have

By replacing them with healthy habits they will benefit you. Common examples of habits you should try to break down include procrastination, negative self-talk, and more. These can really weigh you down. One habit in particular that a lot of people struggle with is the overuse of electronics. Whether being online is a key part of your job or not, there are always ways you can cut off unnecessary electronic usage. By cutting your electronic usage you can use that time to be more present in person. Breaking bad habits is difficult but there are many guides that can help you.

  1. The 3 M’s – Mindfulness, Meditation and Manifestation

Mindfulness is what I describe as journaling, goal setting, and the act of expressing gratitude, which all play a key role in your life. They allow you to analyze your life and your feelings, appreciating the positives you have while organizing yourself and figuring out how you can further improve your life. Meditation is a practice that increases your mental clarity, attention span, tolerance, and control. It’s a huge way to relieve stress, gain perspective and self-awareness along with reducing any negative thoughts or emotions. Manifestation, which only works if you believe in it, is the method of creating your dream life and receiving your desires by using the laws of attraction and assumption. The law of attraction suggests that positive thoughts will attract positive experiences, while the law of assumption more specifically states that being in a state of mind where you feel like your wishes have already been fulfilled is how you can actually fulfill those wishes. A combination of mindfulness, meditation and manifestation can help better your reality.   

  1. Therapy

Therapy isn’t for everyone, but you won’t know that unless you try it. After all, there is a reason a lot of people do enjoy therapy. Though it’s extremely stigmatized, there’s no reason to be embarrassed. A common misconception is that therapy only benefits you if you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness. Though therapy can help you cope with trauma and teach you skills to manage the symptoms of your diagnosis, it can also help with day-to-day life. Therapy allows you to explore your thoughts, moods, emotions and behavior patterns, by finding the right techniques and strategies to navigate stress and other situations in life. If you make the most of it, therapy can really benefit you. try it out with an open mind.  

  1. Keep a healthy diet and sleep schedule

Though this may seem like one of the most basic pieces of self-care advice, do not underestimate its importance. Staying hydrated and having a nutritious diet are both extremely important, as well as setting a proper sleep schedule. Listen to your body and it’s needs. For example, when it comes to food, which a lot of people may have trouble with, you should eat a balance of all food groups and eat intuitively – eat when you are hungry and stop eating when you are full. Food is fuel. When it comes to sleep, it can be tricky to maintain some sort of routine with such a busy schedule, especially when your productivity is best at night. You should aim for 8 hours of sleep every night so your body gets the rest it needs in order to properly function during the day. 

  1. Find your proper beauty routine

Not only does a skin routine contribute to your overall hygiene, but taking care of your physical appearance has internal benefits. Personally, I like to start every day by doing my makeup and getting dressed in an outfit I feel comfortable and stylish in. It makes me feel much more confident and prepared for the tasks that I have to take on that day. Proper skin and hair care regimen is a huge part of a beauty routine, which I urge everyone to maintain. However, activities like getting eyelash extensions, getting your nails done and going clothing and cosmetics shopping are small but crucial parts of a beauty routine. These are all subjective since people’s taste and preferences vary heavily! It’s okay to not do something others do because you don’t want to or maybe you don’t enjoy doing it. A beauty routine can be extremely personalized. It shouldn’t feel like a chore or shouldn’t come from societal beauty standards and external/internalized pressure. 

  1. Try new hobbies 

Find a few hobbies that you are truly passionate about and dedicate yourself to consistently doing them. You should have at least three main types of hobbies. Firstly, you should have a hobby that serves as a creative outlet and allows you to express yourself freely. These are things such as cooking, painting and singing. Next, you should have a fitness-related hobby that keeps you physically active and energized. tHings like working out at the gym, going on a hike, dancing and playing sports. Lastly, you should have an intellectual hobby that enriches you and challenges you to absorb new information. These hobbies can range from reading books, writing, listening to podcasts and traveling. A common excuse for not being able to do your hobbies on a more frequent basis is a lack of time, but you must find time or make time. Balance your other priorities and be able to designate at least a small portion of your day to doing your hobbies. They will really enhance your life and significantly lower the risk of many mental and physical illnesses.

  1. Make sure you’re working towards your dream career 

When it comes to your education or your career, make sure it’s something that you’re personally interested in and that you’re doing it for yourself. Your education usually leads up to your career, which is usually crucial for your survival, since it’s how you’ll make money. Since you spend so much of your life pursuing a career, make sure it’s at least something that you enjoy doing so it feels like “less of a job” and more like a hobby. Again, you should be happy with something you spend so much of your time doing. You can also have multiple sources of income. For example, you can work in one field, but have side hustles that boost your income. From starting a business for certain goods or services to even being a content creator on social media. All of these can also be full-time jobs, it all just depends on you and your interests!

  1. Keep your network big but your circle small 

You can maintain positive acquaintances and mutually beneficial connections to expand your professional and social opportunities – be as social as you want to be and can be! But when it comes to real friendships, you should care more about the quality of your friendships rather than the quantity. Make sure not to trust every single person’s energy and intent. Cut off ties with those whose energy you sense to be negative or you know for a fact is bringing you negativity. Remember that it’s your life and you don’t have space for someone ruining your energy. Not everyone deserves to have a place in your life unless they prove otherwise. Actions speak louder than words. 

  1. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone from time to time and try new things

Think of the butterfly effect – you’ll never know the opportunities, experiences or people that you will come across from simply going somewhere or doing something. You shouldn’t have to spend your life resenting yourself for not taking risks regardless if the result turns out to be positive or negative. You can only control the effort you put in but not the outcome. So even if you attempt to do something and it doesn’t work out, think of it as redirection or one step closer to success rather than failure. Failure only occurs when you give up and stop trying. 

  1. Learn when to prioritize yourself

Nothing is more important than your well-being in all aspects of life. It’s okay to say no to something if you believe it’s the right choice for you. It’s okay to take a break. It is not selfish to prioritize yourself in regards to mental health. It’s your life, so live it the way you want. Make sure you don’t let external sources, such as the fear of someone’s judgment, stop you from being yourself and doing what you want.

All of these things won’t be achieved easily since it is a process that will take a lot of time and effort. You need to be self-motivated, patient with yourself, and truly open to the idea of improving your life. There are going to be ups and downs in this journey, but you will build the strength to overcome any obstacles that come your way. You are investing in yourself for not just a better future, but a better present. 

True self-care is the most important way you can show love to yourself. So take this Valentine’s Day to make a promise to love yourself and take care of yourself forever, no matter how cliche it may seem. After all, if you don’t give yourself the love you deserve, you can’t expect it from someone else.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Tell us about your self-love journey at @HerCampusSJSU. 

hi i'm sruthi! i'm a business administration major at san jose state university. i love art, fashion, beauty, film, traveling, & self-care. i also happen to love writing about all of these things. you can find me on instagram @sruthisingamsetty ♡
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