Valentines Day is nearly here and, with everyone talking about their other halves, I can’t help but wonder: what about yourself? Surely you can’t love someone else as fully as you’d like to without loving yourself first.
‘How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you’. – Rupi Kaur 
Rupi Kaur is a Canadian poet and artist who talks about rape, violence, heartbreak, abuse and femininity. Her poetry books focus on growth and why we should accept ourselves as we are.
Why should we care about self-love?
For some of us, self-love may sound like an added bonus rather than an essential practice. Many of us think we don’t have enough time to devote to it.
However, self-care and compassion might be what is most needed for people who are working hard to reach perfection.
Our inner critics can consistently tell us we could do better. And we may feel that we aren’t good enough. But, perfectionists are at greater risk of physical and mental illnesses which can be helped by practicing self-compassion.
So perfectionism can be a huge barrier to loving yourself.
It can also shorten your lifespan, cause eating disorders, anxiety, depression and slow down recovery from cancer. 
So how can we let go of perfection and love ourselves?
- Practice positive self-talk
Imagine you’re talking to a friend and giving them advice. What would you say to them? Would it be critical or kind? Try to think about how it would make your friend feel if you said it to them and treat yourself with compassion.
- Celebrate your achievements
Write a list of your recent achievements and reward yourself for them. Have you completed an assignment recently or gone on a long run? As small as those things may be, you deserve recognition for them.
- Don’t compare yourself to others
In todays digital world with the use of photo editing, filters and constant online feeds, it can be hard to avoid comparison. If this sounds like you then why don’t you cut down on social media, or delete accounts which make you feel like you’re not good enough. No one is perfect and you shouldn’t feel like you have to be. Remember that social media never paints the whole picture.
Taking time out to relax and unwind is crucial to loving yourself. It is kind to your brain and body. Plus, it can reduce your anxiety and help you get to sleep.
To find out more about how to love yourself, watch this video:
The benefits of self-love are that:
- You will enjoy a challenge
When you love yourself, your confidence will inevitably grow meaning that you can overcome challenges easier.
- Rejection will have less impact
If you really accept yourself and practice self-love, then you will see rejection simply as redirection. You will take this less personally as you will have a higher level of self-esteem.
- You will be the person you want to be
The people in your life who may have been influencing your self-image or direction will have an opinion that is no longer as important as your own. This will mean that the decisions you make will be uniquely yours.
In the words of Rupi Kaur:
'To hate is an easy, lazy thing, but to love takes strength'. 
I hope you have a fantastic Valentines Day and love yourself.
 Kaur, R (2015). Milk and Honey. Canada: Andrews McMeel Publishing.
 Kaur, R (2017). The Sun and Her Flowers. Canada: Andrews McMeel Publishing.