Has anyone told you how loved you are lately? Because you are.

The challenging thing for many of us to realize is that, while we deserve love from others, the most important affection comes from within. The problem is that we’ve been taught that if we’re not constantly working hard or taking care of others, we’re being selfish. Practicing self-love is difficult, sometimes awkward, and much easier said than done – but you are the most important person in your life. Recently, I’ve let insecurity, anxiety, and judgement get in the way of my own personal endearment, and I think we could all use a little reminder in times of vulnerability.

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So, for you and for me, here are 5 unexpected (and simple) ways to practice self-love right now:

  1. Go on an Instagram hiatus. I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life, and I’ve found a huge anxiety-inducer for me comes from getting sucked into the black hole of scrolling. Instagram is purely a highlight reel – what it doesn’t show you is that everyone is going through their own shit and you’re not alone in the struggle. Make a conscious effort this weekend to NOT check your IG feed – it’s literally the last thing you want to spend your time on when you’re focusing on self-care. No mo’ comparisons, girl.
  2. Write yourself a love letter. Yeah, maybe this seems weird and a little cheesy, but trust me – it’s worth it. When you actually sit down and think about it, will you know what to say? This was a huge eye-opener for me – not because there’s nothing to love or appreciate about myself – but because I’ve never really thought about it. Documenting all the things you love about yourself (it could be anything from your sense of humor to how you make your morning coffee) will help increase your self-esteem and self-worth. If you just need a reminder of what’s already good and beautiful in your life, write down inspiring quotes, affirmations, or just the little things that make you happy throughout the day. These gentle reminders are the perfect way to surprise yourself with a little self-love.
  3. Say no to something that stresses you out or makes you unhappy. Saying no doesn’t have to make you a bad or negative person, it makes you a smart and conscientious person who has your best interests at heart. Practice saying no to little things, like Friday night happy hour when you’ve had a rough week and just want to Netflix and Chill TFO. When the time comes to say no to bigger things, like a soul-crushing job or a toxic friendship, you’ll know what steps to take.
  4. Commit to volunteering once in the coming week. Volunteering can offer help to others in need, worthwhile causes you care about, and your community, but the benefits can be even greater for you. Selflessly helping others can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. I’m personally a HUGE animal lover, and felt inspired by Susie’s Senior Dogs – a nonprofit organization that brings awareness to overlooked, homeless senior dogs. I’ve recently applied for volunteer opportunities at a local senior dog rescue, and I can’t wait to invest my time into something truly worthwhile.
  5. Book a trip. Last year I went on a quick solo trip to Portland – four days of exploring the city of bridges alone. I was a little nervous about my own decision to travel by myself, but I left Portland with a fresh perspective and feeling accomplished. Even if it’s ten months in advance, research it, organize it, and book it. Studies show that we’re happiest and most hopeful when we have something to look forward to – so why not start planning now?

What are some of your favorite ways to practice self-love? Tell me in the comments – I’d love to hear them!