The season of love: it’s time to practise self-love

As the season of love gets underway, Nadia Ahmed asks how often we practice self-love and prioritise our own wellbeing. 

Nadia Ahmed asks how often we practise self-love and discusses why making time for yourself is essential in this profession. 

‘What is the difference between like and love?’ asks a student. The teacher responds, ‘When you like a flower, you pluck it. When you love a flower, you water it daily.’

How often do you remember to give daily love and attention to yourself and time for your wellbeing, in the same way that a flower should be watered every day?

The season of love

On the subject of flowers, I love walking through the shops at this time of year as a sea of red surrounds the entrance of florists. I find the sight of hundreds of red roses something to admire for the few weeks that they are all around us!

We associate the ‘season of love’ as a time to think about others that we care for, but how often do we remember the care we should give to ourselves?

I felt the month of February would be a pertinent time to focus on the theme of self-love and self-care. The ancients Greeks described seven types of love, one of which is ‘philautia’, meaning self-love, proving this has been a concept for thousands of years.

The ‘ashram’ of Brahmacharya teaches us to learn to be in solitude, understand ourselves and care for ourselves, experiencing self-love or ‘atma prema.’ I love this description by Jay Shetty in his recent book 8 Rules of Love, as he defines an ashram as a ‘school of learning, growth and support.’

I am sure most of those reading this would associate the image of love as being with a partner, children or family. One form of love that is often forgotten is that which we must give to ourselves too. Spending some time in your own company will enable you to discover your own values and goals and from this, develop qualities that will enable you to be a better version of yourself for your loved ones.

What is self-love?

Self-love can be defined as ‘the practice of caring for, respecting and accepting oneself unconditionally. This involves recognising one’s worth, prioritising personal wellbeing and a nurturing a positive relationship with oneself.’

I wanted to take the opportunity in this month’s article to talk about the importance of caring for yourself and making time for yourself and the many benefits of this.

In November’s article, I briefly mentioned a few healthy habits you could consider incorporating into your daily routine including the following:

  • Journaling
  • Affirmations
  • Gratitude practice
  • Meditation.

Self-love can take many different forms including the following:

  1. Practising self-care rituals like exercise or meditation
  2. Acknowledging your strengths and accomplishments
  3. Celebrating your successes
  4. Prioritising your own needs
  5. Engaging in activities that bring you joy and fulfilment
  6. Challenging negative self-talk.

Making time for yourself

What do you do at the moment to focus on your wellbeing?

What do you do on a weekly basis to nurture your physical and mental health?

How can you make time for yourself to engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfilment while juggling work and family commitments?

A commitment of giving time for you to do things that prioritise your personal wellbeing is essential for you to give the best energy you can to others around you in personal and work relationships.

The way you give time for yourself could be in so many different ways. For some, reading in solitude or listening to a podcast could give you the space you need to switch off from work and other commitments for a few moments. Others may prefer Netflix or TV programmes as a way to ‘escape.’

Many people found that the COVID-19 period gave them time to focus on walking and being outdoors. A connection to nature and being outdoors has been proven to be beneficial for mental, physical and emotional wellbeing with a reduction in stress, improved mood, enhanced cognitive function and obviously cardiovascular health and reduced risk of chronic diseases.

What does self-love look like?

I have a number of activities that help me to focus on my personal wellbeing. I mentioned in my November article that my recent appreciation of yoga has been life-changing and really helped with posture, which is especially important for dental professionals. Being outdoors, even for only 15-30 minutes during the day makes a huge difference to my ability to focus and work more effectively.

One of my favourites is to regularly attend an art class, which I have done for a number of years. This is the ultimate form of escapism for me. It has been a great way to connect with so many new friends and nurture my creative side, unleashing the love of art I have had since a child. It has been an incredible way to be fully ‘mindful’ of the present moment and forget about everything else for a couple of hours a week.

Other forms of self-love include regularly acknowledging your accomplishments and how far you have come. We often find it easy to focus on what has not been successful but forget what has been successful.

How do you celebrate your successes?

When did you last stop to think of a challenge you overcame and gave yourself credit for?

The secret of your future is hidden in your daily activities and this must include ways to remember to care for yourself.

Connect with Nadia on Instagram: @Nadia_orthodontist

Catch up with Nadia’s previous column:

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