Tag Archives: self-hug

Eight ways to show yourself love and nurturance 

  • Buy a new, beautiful journal and pens that you love; use them. (I like Pilot Frixion erasable pens).
  • Schedule a mental health day every other week. That means no commitments, work, family, or social- only time to rest and rejuvenate. The key is putting it on your calendar, not squeezing it in if you have time. Put a big M on your calendar Me time/mental health/mindfulness).
  • Plan a spa day, at home or salon. Pick three services you love.
  • Sign up for an online class or seminar you’ve been wanting to take.
  • Put together the ultimate sleep kit: your favorite essential oil, soft blanket, perfect pillow, sleep mask, noise blocker, hand and body lotion, stuffed animal or other cherished comfort object, mug, soothing beverage, nightlight or lamp with dimmer switch, pajamas or robe, and soothing book/audiobook/podcast. Bedtime rituals are not just for function, they can promote relaxation and self love.
  • Buy yourself a small luxury: a piece of art, a great book, jewelry, your favorite perfume, a decadent candle. Send yourself gorgeous flowers.
  • Take time away. Rent a tiny cabin, go to the ocean, your favorite resort, housesit for a friend, reserve a hotel room for the night or weekend. Giving yourself space away from your usual routines can be very loving.
  • Put together a music playlist that makes you feel incredible. Give it an empowering name. Play it when you feel lonely. You are here, with you.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you, from you.

Related posts:
Self Commitments
The Power of the Self-Hug

How to Self Respect

I frequently write about self-love and self-compassion. The final and perhaps the most important third of the triad is self-respect.

Take time for self-care
Society puts busy people on a pedestal. It’s good to be busy, but what’s better is allowing yourself times to not be busy at all. You are not a machine, thankfully. The brain needs time to decompress so it can function at full capacity. Take that bubble bath, nap, or read or watch for leisure.

Choose partners and friends who adore you.
You know the first place all of us tend to throw self-respect out the window? Yup, you guessed it: relationships. I speak to countless people who have so much to offer but are stuck in a relationship that forces them to compromise some part of themselves and live in a state of numbing self-sacrifice or falsehood. Though scary, breaking off a relationship will be less painful than being with people who do not want to, or are incapable of giving you what you need.

Let whatever you get done today be enough.
Show self-respect means not being overly self-critical, judgmental, or restrictive. It’s so easy to chain ourselves to a to-do list and then gauge our worthiness on its completion. Practice making purposeful shifts toward self-kindness by saying to yourself as you finish one task and contemplate the next: “I could do this, or I could not. If I choose to stop now, I will allow whatever I have completed today to be enough, and I will not beat myself up for it.” I sometimes have my clients make completed or done lists, instead of to do lists. They are often astounded by how much they have accomplished, that was never acknowledged.

Surround yourself with positive energy.
You are who you surround yourself with. The people you choose to surround yourself with largely impacts your self-image and decisions. You will know it’s a positive relationship, when you walk away from an interaction, and you feel motivated, engaged, and encouraged.

Know that you are not your genes.
You could spend a lifetime untying the knots of your family life—but that’s your choice. Conversely, at any point, you can reflect on our childhood influences and declare, “This is not my story. I am not my genes.” No matter what you’ve inherited, it’s not your fate.

Apologize. But keep your self-respect.
Saying “I’m sorry” is seldom pleasant or easy to do, so if you’re going to do it, do not lose yourself. It’s important to offer a genuine level of contrition to someone you have wronged. However, belittling and diminishing yourself should not be part of the equation.

Que Sera Sera.
You must be willing to see things and people as they are. It can be painful to acknowledge that there is a problem with ourselves, our loved ones, or a situation, that cannot be fixed. Knowing when to fold is important. Continuing to struggle to fix things that cannot be fixed is not very respectful of your time and energy.

Write love letters to your body.
Our health, like everything else in our life, is a relationship. The more we pay attention to it and nourish it, the more our body thrives. Often when we consider becoming healthier, we find ourselves in front of the mirror looking at our bodies and wondering what we need to “fix.” Instead of making self-deprecation your morning ritual, stand in front of the mirror and list three things you love about yourself. Later, write them down, preferably on sticky notes. Then pick the one or two that make you feel the way you want to feel every single day and leave these love notes on your bedroom mirror, in your wallet, on the remote, or anywhere you can read them every day. Your body is your never ending partner. They deserve kudos.

Love yourself endlessly.
Being in love with someone comes with no strings attached. Love comes unconditionally. It’s necessary to apply the same mentality to your self-image. I do a visualization with my patients: imagine that you are on a gorgeous beach and you look up and you see the most beautiful person you’ve ever seen. Just like in a movie, they start coming towards you. You move towards them. You run into each others arms. You look into their eyes. It is YOU. You wrap your arms around them. It feels amazing. You are the love of your life.

Express how you feel when you’re hurt.
People can’t give you the respect you deserve if you don’t demand it of yourself. It’s not pleasant to tell someone you care about that they hurt you, but in doing so you respect yourself. If someone hurts your feelings, it’s better to say it in the moment rather than let things build up. The people that actually matter will care about your feelings. Drop the people who don’t.

Know your worth.
Your time is important. You are important. Please do not ever downplay your worth to yourself or anyone else. For example, you’re a skilled professional at what you do. By knowing your worth, you can shut down anyone who says otherwise.

Stay active.
You only have one body. It will carry you through the best and worst times, your steadfast companion. That being said, you can respect yourself by respecting your body. Staying active has benefits like releasing happy chemicals called endorphins. It also just makes you feel good in general because you can run to catch a cab, walk your dog, carry bags of groceries, travail flights of stairs, and hike with your uber fit niece, all without feeling exhausted.

Stay true to who you are.
Never water down who you are. Working on yourself is great because everyone can always improve, but not if it means changing your identity completely. Don’t stand for people who want you to diminish parts of yourself.

Define your values.
You owe yourself respect more than anything else. A way to respect yourself is by knowing who you are as a person and what you stand for. By taking the time to really reflect on what is important to you, it becomes easier to know what violates your schema. Take the time to figure out your values in order to honor them. You are your own hero.

Learn how to set boundaries.
A big part of self respect is the ability to set guidelines about how you feel and want to be treated. Respect yourself by being completely comfortable with the idea of only doing what makes you feel comfortable.

Don’t downplay emotions.
A part of respecting yourself is acknowledging that your feelings are valid. If you are sad about something, let yourself feel that way. The same goes for being angry. I have a patient who lived with someone who mocked her every time she cried. She learned not to. Medically and mentally, bottling up your emotions is unhealthy in the long-term.

Learn from mistakes without beating yourself up.
Every mistake is a lesson. If you really respect yourself, you will take notes on these lessons. It doesn’t help your self-worth by demonizing your actions. Just pick yourself up and move on with your life. Similarly, don’t allow others to hold your past transgressions over your head. First, they have no right. Most importantly, the past is past, and nothing can be gained from it except data.

Also see: The Power of the Self Hug.

On the Power of the Self-Hug

Hugs are good medicine. During times of stress, they provide an immediate release and relief. Yet in the time of social distancing and pandemic, we may have much LESS access to touch, even when we might need it the most.

Hugs boost oxytocin levels. Elevated oxytocin levels lead to lessening of feelings of anger, loneliness, and isolation.

Hugs raise serotonin levels. Elevated Serotonin levels improve your mood, create a sense of well being, and help to regulate your sleep cycle.

Hugs release endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain relievers, so getting a hug will actually help soothe aches and pains.

Hugs increase production of dopamine. Dopamine is produced in the reward center of the brain and makes you feel happy, relieves depression, and just makes you feel good.

Hugs reduce levels of circulating cortisol in the blood. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. By reducing the amount of cortisol circulating in the blood, hugs can alleviate stress and calm the mind.

Hugs lower blood pressure. Hugs activate pressure receptors in the skin called pacinian corpuscles, which send signals to the part of your brain responsible for lowering blood pressure.

Hugs strengthen your immune system. Hugs can help stimulate the thymus gland which regulates the body’s production of white blood cells, which fight off disease.

Hugs relax your muscles. Hugs relieve tension in the body and soothe pain. As a result, they increase circulation to the soft tissue and alleviate bodily tension.

So what happens, during periods of physical distancing and social isolation? Using the findings, I just described about the neuropsychology of hugs, we can actually learn to hug ourselves. What does someone do when they want to comfort another in distress? They may place their hand on their shoulder or rub their arm. This starts the beginning of a cascade of dopamine and another neurotransmitter called GABA. 

GABA is found throughout the brain (cortex). It functions to regulate anxiety using all of your senses, including touch, sound, and vision. Wrap your arms around yourself, crossing them across your chest. Slowly, stroke up and down your arms and shoulders. If you do this as part of a self soothing practice, the brain starts simulating the same effects as if someone you care for is actually hugging you. Someone you care for IS hugging you. You.

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