“The best day of your life, is the one in which you decide
your life is your own.
No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame.
The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.
This is the day your life really begins.”
Happy Thursday, friends! As February approaches, I want to focus our attention on developing stronger and healthier relationships with ourselves. Words like self-care, self-compassion, and self-love are really ‘in’ right now, and I’ll be the first to tell you that they’re not just fluff. There are countless reputable, published research studies that show an improvement in mental and physical health after participants put self compassion and self love into practice.
what is self compassion?
Self compassion is an attitude of kindness and understanding toward one’s personal disappointments and struggles. It includes three interconnected components: mindfulness, self-kindness, and common humanity. It means:
- Being open to and moved by personal distress while taking a nonjudgmental attitude towards perceived inadequacies and failures 
- Treating oneself with understanding, patience, and forgiveness, even when confronted with perceived inadequacy or disappointment 
- Affirming that you deserve love and affection 
- Recognizing that all people are imperfect, make mistakes, and experience failure, and therefore do not feel isolated by the experience of failure or struggle 
Individuals who practice self-compassion are mindful, kind, and nurturing to themselves during situations that threaten their adequacy.
They recognize that being imperfect is part of being human.
what are the benefits of self-compassion?
- Lower rates of psychological stress, such as depression and anxiety 
- Higher rates of desirable characteristics such as life satisfaction, social connectedness, perceived competence, and intrinsic motivation 
- Healthier body image, lower body dissatisfaction, body shame, and body surveillance 
- Higher body appreciation and body image flexibility (i.e. the ability to accept negative body-related thoughts and feelings while remaining committed to desired and valued behaviors) 
what is self-care?
Self-care is taking time to nurture you. It’s treating yourself with as much kindness as you treat your best friend. It’s doing things “for you, by you.” We put self-care into practice in order to reach our optimal mental and physical health. 
prioritizing your own care is not selfish.
When we are our best selves, we are able to give more to relationships, friendships, and professional development. When our own needs are met, we’re better able to assist others. Self-care allows us to heal, emotionally, by eliminating stressors from our lives that drain our energy. 
why is self-care important?
Self-care prepares us to face life’s many challenges. When we can learn to trust in ourselves – to prioritize our needs and heal without help from others – we are better prepared to overcome and cope with everyday hurdles and stressors.  And the truth is:
we must learn to love ourselves before we can truly love others.
How can you practice self-care/self-compassion?
I’ve come up with 14, practical and easy ideas to help you practice self-care as part of the first Nutrition Elevated Community Event: The 14 Days of Self-Love Challenge!
The challenge will start on February 1st, and will run through February 14th. You’ll see a new challenge on each day of the week.
Some require more planning than others (like hosting a dinner party for your best girlfriends!) so be sure to click the +GOOGLE CALENDAR button below to automatically add the challenges to your google calendar!
I thought it would also be fun to post photos of the challenges on instagram using the hashtag #14daysofselflovechallenge!
14 Days of Self-Love Challenge
Write down, or say aloud, three things you are thankful for first thing in the morning
Waking up and remembering all the positive aspects of your life will improve your attitude and set the tone for the rest of your day.
Move your body in a new way (try that fitness class or Youtube video you’ve been wanting to check out!)
Today is the day to be brave and to carve out time for yourself. Make movement (and sweating!) a priority today, and do it for YOU. Because each new day is your opportunity to start developing a new healthy habit.
Make an intentional effort to treat everyone you encounter with utmost kindness, patience, and respect. (Compliment a stranger, buy coffee for your coworker, or offer to babysit your friend’s kid)
Giving back to others allows us to shift our thoughts to someone else. It is very personally gratifying to know that we contributed to brightening someone else’s day. Showing people you care and spreading kindness, are signs of strength, not weakness. #kindnessspreadskindness
Clean out your closet and donate your unwanted items
Don’t let the items you never wear weigh you down, and allow others to enjoy them instead. Make space for the new.
Go for a walk or hike with only your thoughts (no electronics!)
Use this opportunity to focus on your breathing, the scenery, and just your thoughts.
Buy yourself a bouquet of fresh flowers
Treat yourself and brighten up your day.
Send a handwritten note to someone you love
The art of the hand-written note is fading. Don’t let the flame die.
Practice the art of saying ‘no’
Say ‘yes’ to the people, relationships, friendships, jobs, and opportunities that make you say ‘f*ck yes!’ Any other reaction deserves a no.
End all toxic relationships. Today is the day to cut out the people or activities that don’t build you up
Our time is too precious to not feel uplifted by everyone (and thing) in your life.
Host a dinner party with your closest friends
Celebrate the friendships you’ve cultivated over a homemade meal. Recognize each of your friends for what they bring to your life. Compliments go a long way, and the special people in your life deserve to know how you feel.
Create a gratitude jar and record your favorite memories for the next 365 days
Open the jar in a year as a small reminder of your wonderful year.
Devote an entire day to yourself (make no plans!)
Act like it’s your birthday, and plan a day just for you. Visit your favorite coffee shop, breakfast nook, museum, library, etc. Today, it’s all about YOU! Focus on being alone. Lean into the discomfort, and recognize that you are okay on your own.
Step outside of your comfort zone and try something new
Eat at a restaurant alone, take yourself to a movie, sit at a bar by yourself, read a new book, try a new workout, start a blog, write your first journal entry, cook a new recipe…just go for it!
Write yourself a letter from your future self. Imagine all that you will have accomplished. All the people you have met. And all the ways you’ve grown. Seal it, and open it in 2018
Imagine the endless possibilities that your future holds and seal it all into a letter. Praise yourself for leaving the relationship you didn’t think you were brave enough to end. Celebrate the milestones that challenged you and pushed your stamina. Tell yourself how proud you are of how much you’ve grown personally and professionally. Thank yourself for taking the last two weeks to devote time to healing yourself. ♥
To automatically add the challenges to your google cal, click the “+google calendar” button on the bottom right-hand corner!
Celebrate who you are in your deepest heart. Love yourself and the world will love you.
-Amy Leigh Mercree
- New possibilities in the prevention of eating disorders: The introduction of positive body image measures Niva Piran