During the month of February, we’re often inundated with heart-shaped chocolates, red greeting cards, and endless marketing messages talking about romance and love. But while advertisers talk to us about showing love to those around us, it’s also a good reminder to show some love to ourselves. This Valentine’s Day, explore the health and wellness benefits of self-love and how being more compassionate and accepting of yourself can lay the foundation for a stronger body, a happier mind, and a healthier immune system.
Love is in the Air: How Self-Love Makes Us Healthier (And Happier)
“Self-love” and “self-compassion” are pop culture buzzwords these days, but the health benefits of loving yourself are grounded in real science and evidence-backed research.
1. Self-love (and love from others) reduces stress
Stress weakens your immune system and hampers your body’s ability to respond to infections and fight disease, warns the American Psychological Association. For example, when you’re stressed, you trigger the release of stress hormones that suppress the immune system.
It’s been shown that self-love and self-compassion can help to reduce your stress levels. As an additional bonus this Valentine’s Day, if you’re married or partnered, physical touch, hugs, and other signs of affection can also reduce stress by triggering the release of feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones like oxytocin.
2. It gives you the mental strength to stick with your health goals
It takes a certain level of mental fortitude to avoid junk food, eat a healthy diet, commit to your workout routine, etc. And self-love can help you accomplish that, setting you up for success in your health and wellness journey.
“Self-compassion does not mean we stop working hard and aiming for success,” explains Psychology Today. “Instead, it is a change in attitude and is linked with greater well-being as well as superior performance outcomes. Nor does self-compassion imply self-indulgence. For example, a parent who cares about her child will insist on the child eating vegetables and doing her homework, no matter how unpleasant these experiences are for the child. Similarly, taking it easy on yourself may be appropriate in some situations, but in times of over-indulgence and laziness, self-compassion involves toughening up and taking responsibility.”
In other words, approaching your habits, your choices and your life through the lens of self-love means you make every decision with intention and focus. And this can help you to make better choices, and avoid choices that sabotage your health and vitality.
3. It improves your lifespan
Many lifespan-shortening diseases and conditions, ranging the gamut of mood disorders, eating disorders and even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), have roots or triggers linked to your mindset.
And one of the most common mindsets that correlate with chronic disease and shorter lifespans is perfectionism and treating yourself poorly. “Studies have shown that perfectionists are at a higher risk of several illnesses, both physical and mental,” reports Medical News Today, “and that self-compassion might free us from its grip.”
Make Valentine’s Day About You, Too: How to Practice Self-Compassion
This February, embrace the mood of Valentine’s Day and find ways to express your love, appreciation and gratitude to people in your life who bring you joy and comfort.
But don’t neglect to show yourself some love, too. Get started with a few quick tips:
- Listen to yourself: How do you speak to yourself? Are you constantly berating yourself over mistakes or things you’ve done, or are you encouraging yourself forward?
- Next, listen to others: Are you surrounded by supportive people who love you, or do you listen to toxic friends and critics who tear you down?
- How do you treat your body? Are you showing it love through healthy food, immunity-modulating supplements like BioPro-Plus 500, relaxing rituals, comforting routine and challenging exercise? Are you giving it what it needs to flourish?
- How do you view yourself? Are you measuring your accomplishments, your goals and your dreams by what YOU want, or are you constantly comparing yourself to others?
- How do you FEEL yourself? Do you stay in touch with your emotions and give yourself compassion and permission to feel (and process) your fears, your hopes, your worries, your joys and your grief? Or do you try to shut it down and ignore the feelings your soul is expressing?
Put yourself first. Love yourself first. And the rest — strength, health, energy, optimism, etc. — will flow.
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