7 tips to cultivate Self-Love this Valentines Day

We all know that Valentines Day is a day to celebrate love - and that is true whether we are single or in a couple. Taking the time to practice self-love is a vital part of self care. Loving ourselves is important if we want to be able to love others.
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Self-love begins and ends inside of us. It has no relation to what other people think or feel of us. It is unhealthy to rely on validation from others to feel good about ourselves. Low self-esteem can prevent us from reaping the rewards of love in a relationship.
To celebrate love this Valentines Day, here are 7 tips to help you build your love for yourself;
Write a love letter to yourself
Write in detail all the things you love about yourself. If you find it hard, imagine that you are writing about a friend you love. What good qualitites do you have? What are you most proud of achieving? Fill your letter with words of encouragement and recognition, celebrate all that you have overcome and achieved in life.
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Be mindful of your self-talk
Listen to your inner voice. Is it encouraging and forgiving? Or does it berate you whenever you make a mistake, constantly put you down and make you feel bad about yourself? Whenever you notice yourself saying something unkind to yourself, try switching to a kinder tone and try to keep a check on your inner critic. Think, would I speak to a loved one like this? Be kind and gentle with yourself, let go of perfection and be forgiving of your mistakes.
Practice Gratitude
Too often we focus on what we don't have instead of what we do. Whether it is physical possessions, how we look or our personalities, focusing on the negatives doesn't bring happiness, it only amplifies the things we don't link.
Start practicing gratitude on a regular basis. You could start by writing down 3 things you're grateful for about yourself at the end of each day. Perhaps your body completed a workout, you did something kind for someone else, you spoke your truth or maybe you just had a good hair day!
Bathe in nature
Shinrin-Yoku is the Japanese concept that promotes spending time in nature to relax and rejuvenate. Connecting to nature has huge benefits for our emotional wellbeing and can help us reconnect with our true selves. Nature bathing can be as simple as taking a walk in the woods. Forest bathing has become a vital part of preventative healthcare in Japan, with studies showing that forest bathing improves sleep quality, mood, ability to focus, and stress levels.
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Do what you love  
Do you fill your time with activities that you enjoy? Or do you spend most of your time taking care of the needs of others? Having hobbies that you love lifts your mood and boosts your self esteem. Aim to schedule some time every week to do something that is just for you - whether that is journaling, meditation, cooking, painting, listening to music, attending an exercise class or reading a book.
Speak your truth
Many of us fall into the habit of not being true to ourselves - we find ourselves agreeing with others, perhaps to feel as though we are liked or belong. This can lead us to feeling out of sync with ourselves, and unhappy with not being true to who we are. Do you really like that book, band or movie? Try to let go of the need to people-please and use your voice to share what is important and true for you. 
Celebrate yourself
Why not throw yourself a pamper party? Take the time to treat yourself to an evening or afternoon of self-care. Run an aromatherapy bath, light some scented candles, give yourself a massage with a luxury oil and put on a face mask. The perfect way to celebrate the love you have for yourself. 
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