Does the concept of self-love make you feel uncomfortable? Think it's the stuff of Instagram-perfect yoga moms or millennial snowflakes? While it’s easy to equate self-love for selfishness or just a marketer’s way to sell you aura-cleansing yoni eggs, we could probably all benefit from being a little kinder with ourselves. So start showing yourself some TLC today with these five self-love habits to improve your health, happiness and self-esteem.
1. Put yourself first
While there are certainly times when you need to put others’ needs ahead of your own – feeding your pet, caring for your child, offering your seat to an elderly person on the bus – there are other times when you can and should prioritize your own needs, or at least give them the same importance as those of others.
In fact, just like when the flight attendants tell you to put your own air mask on before helping others, putting your own needs first is sometimes vital. After all, if you’re not meeting your basic needs to feel healthy, happy and loved, you’re gonna have a hard time supporting others.
One area in particular where many women could practice putting themselves first is sex. According to a 2017 study, while heterosexual men reported orgasming during sex around 95% of the time, only 65% of women reported the same. But female pleasure is just as important!
So if you usually put your partner’s pleasure ahead of your own and don’t feel satisfied at the end of sexual encounters, talk to your partner about how you feel, figure out a way to make sure you experience pleasure too, and whatever you do, never fake orgasms!
To find out more about how to prioritize your pleasure, check out Emjoy's Communicate Your Needs collection where we talk more about how to discuss your sexual needs and boundaries with a partner.
2. Set healthy boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries is one of those self-love habits that will help you feel less stressed and more satisfied in all areas of your life. Whether at home, at work, with family, or during sex, boundaries are vital healthy relationships. Having boundaries can not only safeguard your mental health, they can also help you to protect your precious time, enrich your relationships, increase your happiness and self-esteem and much more.
Of course to get others to respect your boundaries, you first need to get really clear about what’s important to you. You could start by thinking about different times when people asked too much of you or treated you in a way you didn’t like. Examples might include things like a colleague expecting you to take on their workload at the last minute, a partner pressuring you to try something in bed you didn’t feel comfortable with, or a relative who always puts you down at family gatherings. Noting down occasions like this will help you to identify what you do and don’t want from your relationships and find out what your personal boundaries are.
Once you’re clear about what your boundaries are, you’ll have a much easier time sticking to them and communicating them to others. For a deeper dive into how to create boundaries and how they can improve your self-esteem, don’t miss our Boundaries collection created by Emjoy’s in-house sex therapist, Mia Sabat.
3. Let go of toxic relationships
If you have people in your life who continue to disrespect your clear boundaries, people who put you down, make you feel bad, or who have a negative influence on you, it may be time to distance yourself from them or cut them out of your life completely.
This is easier said than done, especially if the person in question is a family member or long-term partner, but sometimes for your own mental health and security, the best thing to do is to let go. And we’re not just talking about the more extreme examples like an abusive partner or family member, this also extends to people who aren’t bad per se but who leave you feeling depleted after spending time with them or who bring out the worst in you.
So every once in a while, reflect on your relationships and review which ones make you feel good, neutral or bad. Then take steps to either improve them or ask yourself whether you would be better off letting go altogether.
To find out more about the characteristics of toxic relationships and how to leave them safely, listen to Jo Westwood’s Toxic Relationship collection.
4. Question your motives
Are you going to Linda from Accounting’s Battle of Hastings reenactment because you love 11th-century history? If so, go for it. Would you rather stick pins in your eyes but are going to avoid upsetting her? Don’t go!
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of saying yes to things you don’t want to do, especially if you’re a people pleaser. So before committing to anything that consumes your valuable time and energy, get clear about your motives for doing it. Are you going to that 6am HIIT class because you love high intensity training and early morning workouts? Or are you only doing it because you watched a video claiming it’s how successful people start the day, even though you’d rather wake up at a more reasonable hour and drink tea with your cats in bed?
If your main motivation is pleasing other people, impressing them, or feeling like you ‘should’ do something even though you don’t want to, drop it. Your time and energy are far too precious to waste on things that aren’t meaningful to you.
5. Add daily pleasures into your life
“No thanks, I’m waiting until I’ve lost weight until I eat chocolate again.” “Sorry, I’m cancelling all social plansuntil I hand in my assignment next month.” “No, I’m not going out for brunch anymore until I’ve saved enough money for a home deposit.”...
So many of us put off pleasure until a future date, until we feel like we’ve earned it, but incorporating daily pleasure into your life is essential for your wellbeing, not just a ‘reward’ for hard work. If you don’t have something to look forward to every day, no matter how small, you’re much more likely to be discouraged from reaching your goals, and your happiness will suffer as a result.
Fortunately, out of all five of these self-love habits, this is perhaps the easiest to put into action. One way to start is by thinking about things that give you pleasure and write down at least one of them that you can enjoy every day. And they don’t have to be huge things. It could be calling a friend, enjoying an amazing masturbation sesh, eating your favorite food, doing a hobby you enjoy, listening to some audio erotica, dancing around the kitchen to some funky music, taking a long bubble bath with a sex toy,… anything that adds more pleasure to your day. Then commit to doing one of them every day and watch your pleasure and happiness grow!
Make a self-care plan with Emjoy
We hope you you've been inspired by these five self-care habits for a healthier and happier you. To learn more about the importance of having a self-care routine, as well as how to build healthy habits, add daily pleasures into your life and build a personalized self-care plan, check out our Practice Self-Care audio collection on the Emjoy app. You deserve it!