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It’s funny in a not-so-funny way how many people I know who have a volatile and intense love-hate relationship with the month of February and all that it brings forth on February 14. How messed up is it that we have such a dysfunctional relationship with such a natural human expression such as love?
I am witnessing it with my two children. In elementary school, they were excited to create a beautiful, colorful Valentine and expressed giddy eagerness to share a note of admiration for each of their classmates. Now that they are in middle school, my kids show apathy, and they are filled with apprehension that manifests itself in an attitude that Valentine’s Day—and the exquisite excitement of that vulnerable moment when we share with someone that we care—is, frankly, just not cool.
We know—it’s complicated, there are many shades of love we all know, but it’s also simple at heart. To get love, you must share love, and to share love, you must be love—and being love starts with a genuine love for yourself. (We said it was complicated. But it is worth it.)
Luckily, this issue is dedicated to love. The radiant Adrienne Bankert spreads joy and love to millions as the “Pop News” host at “Good Morning America,” and luminous Latham Thomas (aka the Glow Maven) is dedicated to helping everyone raise their own vibration. We have just the cupid’s arrow you need with 24Life’s love potion. And to keep you on the love train all month, our 24Life Editor’s Challenge offers 24 simple acts of self-love. Our challenge to you is to at least pick two—or do them all! Either way, happy Valentine’s Day! We appreciate you, and we truly want you to know that you are loveable just as you are.
1. Make time for meditation.
Meditation boasts a host of health benefits—better sleep, less stress, the list goes on. So why not spend 10 minutes each morning with your eyes closed immersed in your thoughts? Let them come, without judgment, and welcome whatever your mind has for you that day.
2. Set an intention for the day.
Grab your journal or phone and write (or type) an intention for your day as you eat breakfast or make coffee. Intentions equal purpose, but make it an actionable and aspirational intention: “Be more joyful,” “Say thank you more.” At the end of the day, reflect on your intention. Did you make it happen? What does it feel like accomplishing your intention? How can you accomplish it better tomorrow?
3. Every morning, tell yourself one thing you love about you in the mirror.
We’re great at complimenting others, but what about complimenting yourself? Look yourself in the eyes, and tell yourself one thing you love about you—physical or otherwise. “I have amazing hair,” “I’m a great listener,” “I am a top performer at work.” Acts of self-love and self-kindness have been shown to lower depression and anxiety, and help you live healthier. So remind yourself every day of how awesome and amazing you are, and then go out and be amazing!
4. Spend an hour immersed in a book that you’ve been dying to read.
Reading and learning new things keeps your brain fit and have been scientifically proven to reduce your chances of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Grab a book that challenges you to be a better you, put your phone and other distractions away, and spend an hour immersed in reading. Your brain will thank you.
5. Make time to daydream.
According to science, daydreaming is the workout equivalent for the mind. Set a timer for five or 10 minutes a day to simply get lost in dreaming about a goal you’d like to accomplish or an ideal scenario about your job, relationship or hobby. Get wild with your dreams—what is the best-case scenario or desired outcome? And how can you achieve it? Dream big. Be creative. Then go after it.
6. Prep for the next day to achieve your fitness goals.
Need motivation to get to the gym or go for a run in the morning? Lay out your workout clothes the night before in a spot where you can immediately see them when you wake up. This will help solidify your decision to make working out first thing in the morning a priority by making your morning routine quick and easy. Want to eat healthier? Meal-prep and pre-portion healthy snacks and lunches for work so they’re easy to grab and ready to go. Set yourself up for success the night before and your goals will be one step closer.
7. Find a motivational quote of the day.
Set it as your lock screen, write it on a sticky note and stick it to your desktop—find a quote that inspires you each day and make it part of your daily meditation or mantra. Let it infuse every part of your life, whether you’re at work, home or the gym. Here is one to get you started: “They can because they believe they can.” ~Virgil
8. Take a fun workout class that you’ve never tried before.
Instead of hitting the weight rack or running endlessly on the treadmill, check out your gym’s class schedule and try a fun new workout class you’ve never done before. You might be surprised at how much fun you have—and how big of a sweat you work up. Make working out a reward, not a punishment.
9. Have a dance party.
Throw on your headphones or crank up the volume on your stereo and just dance it out. Shake it like no one is watching, or invite a friend over to dance it off with you. Not only will you move and sweat, but you’ll also shake off everything that happened that day—all the stress, frustration or anxiety you experienced—and have a chance to lose yourself in the music.
10. Get a flexibility coach or do some yoga.
Either way, take it easy on your body, and thank it for all its hard work by doing a cleansing yoga routine. Hot yoga, power yoga or a gentle stretching practice—whatever you choose, as you move through each sequence, thank your body for its strength and durability. Cleanse and detoxify your inner organs and muscles and bring fresh blood flow to every part of your body.
11. Get outdoors and hike around.
Spend some time outside the gym’s four walls and out in nature. Being out in nature is an easy way to lower stress and get direct sunlight-to-skin contact, an essential part of building strong bones. Enjoy the scenery and the vitamin D. Breathe in the fresh air as you walk and hike without an ulterior motive or agenda.
12. Buy yourself new workout clothes or shoes.
Treat yourself to a new pair of running shoes or yoga tights to thank yourself for all the hard work and hours you’ve put in at the gym—and to motivate yourself to keep up the good work. There’s nothing better than feeling fabulous in a new workout outfit!
13. Dial up your body scan.
Listen to how your body responds to what you eat. Can you tell the difference between how you feel physically and how you feel emotionally after that last slice? Begin to listen to your intuition and the language of your physiology for hunger. That’s the first step to eating for your body’s nourishment and to understand what you are really hungry for. Not sure what your body is saying—start with a food journal and record how you feel directly after eating a meal and 15 minutes later. This will give insight into your body’s reaction to specific foods.
14. Spice up that meal with new company.
Make your favorite dish, smoothie or tea—for you and someone else. Research shows that sharing a meal or preparing one for someone else is actually good for you—and we know that it is more pleasurable to share it with another. So at least once a week or more, plan a meal with friends or those you love—and savor the taste of good company.
15. Make your cup runneth over.
Drink a full glass of water or a mug of hot water and lemon when you wake up. Think of it as giving your tissues a nice refreshing bath. Research and the experts agree that we’re dehydrated when we wake up, so why not start your workout without the disadvantage of dehydration?
16. Give yourself a break from meat.
Just like our bodies benefit from cross-training our workouts, we also thrive from varying our eating habits. Optimizing our health and eating more greens and less meat is good for anybody and every body. So make it a sport to add a new green to your food regimen. Swap a handful of sauteed mushrooms or some sliced, baked tempeh or tofu if you’re missing the texture or umami of meat.
17. Go deep on chocolate.
It’s obvious that chocolate is an expression of sweetness, but it can be good for you, too. But are you holding back? What is the right chocolate flavor that brings you happiness—with salt or cayenne pepper? What level of darkness is just the right level of darkness for you? Do a taste test—grab a bunch of bars and find your sweet spot.
18. Take it out.
Pack a picnic basket and a book or a journal and take yourself out—outside that is. Nearly every great mind in history claims that walking and spending time in nature was critical to their game-changing discoveries. If it’s good for Albert Einstein, Henry David Thoreau and Steve Jobs, you can expect spending time with a tasty on-the-go meal or snack under the shade of your favorite tree or the top of an awe-inspiring hike may do you some good.
19. Make sleep sacred.
Sleep is one of the most profound ways to love your body. It regenerates and it feels great. It’s a mystery why so many of us cut ourselves short and in doing so make our days harder than they need to be. Make sleep a sacred part of your day by starting with your bedtime routine. Give yourself an extra hour one night to wind down for sleep. Matt Walker, Ph.D., says that eight hours you need does not include the half-hour it takes to fall asleep.
20. Indulge in your morning.
Give yourself 30 minutes of screen-free time in the morning—and graduate to a full hour. How you start your day impacts how you end the day—meaning, did you spend that day in a way that makes you happy and leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction and pride of achievement as your head hits the pillow at night. So get up, get at it, make your bed, move your body and make the day great with a stellar start.
21. Mix yourself a love tape.
Sound heals and music uplifts. We can all recall songs that just make us feel better within a few notes. Spend a couple of hours and remix yourself a few playlists to be a soundtrack for days that you love and put you in the mood for whatever. Here are a few ideas: Create a workout tape, put together the ultimate playlist for cooking dinner, or make a power playlist to motivate you through deadlines.
22. Stay current with your check-ups.
Self-love is practical love, got-your-back love, and this means taking care of your critical body business such getting current with your health care. So pick up the phone and book your appointments with all your important people, including your dentist, your general practitioner, your dermatologist, your optometrist and, of course for the ladies, your gynecologist for an annual checkup.
23. Never miss a date with yourself.
Invest in your well-being and happiness by taking time to define and design your weekly self-care rituals. How do you care for yourself on a regular basis. This means blocking time in your calendar that is as precious as it could be and showing up for yourself day in day out. Make this a standing date that you keep with yourself daily, weekly or monthly.
24. Take pleasure.
Yes, that pleasure. Why not? Really, what are you waiting for—permission? If so, permission has been granted. In 2018, we have so many ways to thrive in love and to please ourselves, why not explore and become an expert at giving and getting a big O. You can design your life, and you can definitely create a better sex life. We promise Valentine’s Day may never be the same.
Photo credit: sonyachny, Adobe Stock; paul prescott, Adobe Stock; LoloStock, Adobe Stock; Jusakas, Adobe Stock; alfa27, Adobe Stock; JackF, Adobe Stock; Mikhail Malyugin, Adobe Stock; shefkate, Adobe Stock; gpointstudio, Adobe Stock