Diane Von Furstenberg once wisely said, “It is so important to take time for yourself and find clarity. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.” This is the voice of an empowered woman. We can all remember that new relationship feeling: no effort was too much, the little things were so important. Likewise, our pre-children days with manicures, drinks with friends and spa treats. However, as our number of demands increase, our own needs often end up under the laundry heap of priorities. What if we took this moment to look at the relationship that we have with ourself? When was the last time you thought about self-love and allowed yourself to feel that spark of love about you?
Now is the Time
February is the month of love, so it is the perfect time to think about giving yourself a little self-love. This can be a difficult task for women. We have been hardwired as carers, home-makers, devoted partners, mothers and daughters; juggling all of the different roles and feeling scared to let one drop for the fear of being judged as unworthy of our emancipated status. Sometimes, we just have to let everything fall, and breathe. It is OK to need time to yourself to rediscover what makes you happy, to be what makes you YOU. The result won’t be a complete collapse of everything around you. It will be a more confident and empowered version of you who emerges. Here is my guide to taking that first step towards self-love.
If your first reaction to the idea of setting time aside for yourself is, “What? With my schedule?” how about gently incorporating some mindfulness into your day? Mindfulness encourages you to connect with your feelings and surroundings, allowing you to pause and reflect. To be present in the moment. Take that slightly longer route home that leads you through the park. Leave your phone on silent while you enjoy a quiet post-children’s bedtime cup of tea. That can be all it takes to carve out five minutes of headspace in your hectic day.
Let yourself think about your emotions with a non-judgemental air and be patient with yourself as you strive to accept and acknowledge who you are. Try to enter this process with a beginner’s mind. Try not to sabotage yourself by being dismissive or unwilling to explore the emotions that live below your surface. It can be hard, there’s no doubt about it, but learning to love all of yourself, not just the bits that you present to others, can be extremely healing to your mental well-being and a powerful self-acceptance tool. It has also been shown to reduce anxiety and feed creativity. That’s got to be a win-win situation.
Meditation can conjure up images of twisted limbs and incense sticks. However, mindful meditation is more about centring yourself and finding clarity of thought. It can be a spiritual activity or just a gentle pause from life. On a physical level, meditation can increase the grey matter in your frontal lobe, which can help promote prolonged emotional stability and a more positive outlook on life. Just 10 minutes a day brings great stress relieving benefits! First thing in the morning is an ideal time to meditate; a time to calm and distill your thoughts before the chaos of the day kicks in.
Making meditation a daily ritual and giving it importance in your routine is key. You can do it simply by sitting on your bed, or you may like the purposefulness of lighting a candle and listening to a particular piece of music or getting into your favourite yoga pose in a place that catches the morning rays. Apps such as insight timer can guide you through the process of meditation. They can help keep your mind on track, give you something to focus on. More importantly, they can prevent you from wandering off into the realm of meal planning and schedule juggling.
Can you still remember those little rhymes, prayers or songs that were part of your bedtime routine as a child? Sometimes the most simple of habits can be the most meaningful. Repeating mantras might not be for everyone, but speaking words of affirmation to yourself, even if it’s just whilst washing your face in the morning, has been proven to improve the way we deal with stress, giving a more positive outlook on life and a feeling of self-empowerment. If you feel awkward, remember, it’s just like talking to yourself, which you probably do several times a day anyway. This time you are speaking to yourself like someone you truly love. Tell yourself that you are worthy, that you deserve love, that your dreams are valid. If it still feels toe-curlingly embarrassing, try reciting a poem or proverb that builds you up, so you’re not relying on your own words. This L.R. Knost’s quote is a great starter:
“Taking care of myself doesn’t mean “me first.” It means “me too.”
Thoughts Into Action
Self-love grows from actions. By nurturing your relationship with yourself and recognising that you deserve happiness, you are putting yourself in the best position to move forward confidently with your life. However, that can sometimes leave you with the dilemma of how to take the next step. You feel empowered to make a change in your life, but don’t know how to put that into action.
If your goal is to feel more self-confident and comfortable within your own skin, something as simple as an empowering portrait session can make all the difference. If you look at your phone or your social media account, how many pictures do you actually have of yourself? And how many of those truly reflect who you are as a person?
There is so much more to you than a grimacing selfie in front of a famous landmark or an accessory to one of your beautiful children. You are worthy of having some amazing photos of yourself that, not only your friends will fawn over, but that you can look at and be proud of the person they represent. Wonderful photos aren’t a thing of your past. Of course, you may have more lines around your eyes these days, but what your younger self had in skin texture, she may have lacked in direction, depth of experience and a groundedness that can only come from age and self-reflection.
A Portrait of Empowerment
Just think of all of the times you have put mind over matter in the past. Your determination to meet a deadline to impress your new boss, your sheer grit to manage to create the appearance of calm and collection in the background of your conference call , or your roll-your-sleeves-up-attitude to get all of the children adequately snacked, drinked and toileted before online school starts. This time, do something for you. For the love of you. You deserve it and all of the amazing benefits that it will bring.
Here is the opportunity for you to start your journey of self-love with an empowering portrait session. I would love to have a chat with you about how we can capture an amazing shot of you, looking and feeling just like YOU.