5 Super Practical Ways I Practice Self-Love

What does it mean to practice self-love? And what if you're not really into mantras and bubble baths? Self-love can take just about any form, click through to read about 5 super practical ways to practice self-care
A few weeks ago I dashed off a post about self-love in about twenty minutes. My self-care practices aren’t particularly picturesque or luxurious and I imagined that disclosing this fact would come off as a bit … negative.

I didn’t think many people would relate to my less-than-Pinterest-worthy self-care practices of leaving parties early and avoiding amusement parks.

But I was wrong. Apparently there are lots of us who enjoy the occasional mani and bubble bath – but (if we’re being honest) a lot of our self-care comes in not-always-inspiring shapes and sizes.

5 practical self-love acts that don’t include a mantra or bubble baths 

1. Cull bad people from your life

It doesn’t sound particularly loving or good-natured to tell you that you should delete your former roommate’s number or only see That One Girl in 20-minute intervals.

But I bet you knew E-X-A-C-T-L-Y who I was talking about when you read that heading: the friend who’s overly concerned about everyone’s weight and income, the friend who complains constantly but never makes any steps towards changing anything, the friend who always needs a ride/an extra $20/a shoulder to cry on … but never, ever returns the favor.

You get to choose who you let into your life and we’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Show yourself some love by choosing carefully.

2. Do things you love – even if other people don’t quite get it

A lot of my friends love punk shows in dirty dive bars or metal shows in which the lead singer yells obscenities. I take twerk out classes and several of my friends show self-love by removing their clothing for crowds as burlesque dancers.

Another friend is a super-successful roller girl and loves nothing more than bruising her way around the rink.

A few of my friends have (very fulfilling to them) non-traditional sex lives. If something makes you feel happy, fulfilled, joyful – and you’re not hurting anyone – you owe it to yourself to pursue it.

Maybe your mom doesn’t understand why The Triple Rock is your version of church, but she’s not the one living your life, is she?

3. Know your limits and respect them

As previously mentioned, I usually top out after three hours of social interaction. I don’t like anything that involves crowds, lines, fried food, or other people’s poorly behaved children. I need eight hours of sleep, my alcohol tolerance is laughable, and I don’t know how to smoke things.

I spent years trying to buck these deeply uncool traits before I realized that’s this is just who I am and no matter how many times I try to like Grand Old Days or body shots it’s just not going to happen. We’ve all got social, physical, psychological, emotional limits and (usually) they don’t offer us much wiggle room. A big part of self-care is making peace with your limits + loving yourself enough to honor them. Share on X

4. Learn to say no

You’ve probably read this advice a million times, in every publication that’s ever been aimed at women (or humans) and that’s because it’s good effing advice. We all encounter things that are relatively easy to turn down – an invitation to a friend-of-a-friend’s BBQ on an already busy weekend or a wedding five states over.

But we’ll all encounter bad ideas dressed up as temptation:

a) a very good looking and untrustworthy human who wants to sleep with you (and lots of other people) when you’re in the market for a serious relationship
b) a super fun house party the night before your career-making presentation
c) an amazing pair of boots that are on sale – but still cost as much as your rent – and you’re incredibly broke

5. Establish boundaries

You know what this looks like.
Not lending money to that friend who didn’t pay you back the last time. No client emails after 6 pm or on weekends. Not hanging around with That Friend when they’ve been drinking because they get awful. Not talking about That Topic with That Uncle because you know he’ll just rile you up and ruin Thanksgiving.

Again (and it bears saying it twice in one post) you get to choose who you allow into your life and how you interact with them. You don’t have to disown a friend who waxes non-awesome when she’s drunk, you can just say to yourself You’ve shown me the type of person you are and I will adjust my expectations and behavior accordingly.

Are there any not-particularly-positive-sounding ways that you take care of yourself? Share them in the comments – I’m sure we’d all benefit!

P.S. Practicing self-love is a habit. You can develop it! This will help – and it’s free!

 Photo by Haley Powers on Unsplash

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  1. Bethany Dickey

    I loved this post! It was much more honest than most posts on self-love. What you wrote in #3 basically sounds like me…people tire me out.

  2. lindsaymarie

    love this! #3 sounds very much like me, except for the fact that i enjoy the occasional fried food.
    my self care:
    i don't go out on sunday evenings. i stay at home and prep meals, relax, and get myself ready for the week ahead. if i don't do this, i end up feeling "behind" for the first few days of the week.
    i don't like scary movies, drunk brunches, or non-professionally done fireworks (aka "shooting some crap off the roof"). i avoid these things, even if it means turning down plans with friends or leaving the party early.

  3. Jess May

    I like to take myself on dates. Especially when there is a good chick flick on at the pictures and my hubs just isnt interested.
    I wrote a blog post on it a little while ago too.

    • Amy @ Long Drive Journey

      I like doing this too! Enjoying a movie without anyone there to snark about it is a real treat!

  4. Valerie

    Rock on. "Snarky" or not, a girl's gotta know what works and doesn't work for her! I am right with you on the time-limited social interaction thing, which took me a long time to learn because I am very outgoing and sociable. But then I go very quickly to "GET ME THE F OUT OF HERE NOW." 🙂

  5. Barbara

    My Sanity-saving, Could Be Interpreted as Snark Moves (and I make them as tactfully as I can):
    1. not giving sensitive information to a sister who forwards people's emails to her, on to a network of extended family (people I hardly know) 2. keeping Sundays for myself, as Relax and Regroup Days 3. not going out more than 2 nights/week 4. being aware of signs that the Family Drama Roller Coaster is about to get going, and avoiding the ride 5. refusing a third drink (low tolerance for alcohol) 6. taking myself out for movies/day or weekend trips, instead of always going with a friend (I'm in INFJ = not anti-social, but need time alone to be creative and regroup).

    • Vanessa

      I'm an INFJ as well. I don't need to take on all the volunteer roles. It's OK to for me to regroup.

  6. Vanessa

    I've come to realize that I really don't like yoga. I'm very introverted so I spend nearly all day (over) thinking deeply about anything and everything. I don't need to take an hour out of my life to…deeply think about things. I much prefer martial arts where I'm too tired to think.

    Plus, I like punching things!

    And that's okay.

    • Barbara

      Ha, ha!!….I identify with this! Running the paper shredder gives me happiness. I like to bake bread "from scratch" occasionally, and love punching and kneading the dough.

  7. Candice @ The Let's Go Ladies

    YES, completely yes to #1 and #3. I am just not a cool person. I don't like being out late. I have 2 drinks and I'm done for the night. I can only handle one social outing per week, and then I need another 6 days to recover from it.

    And that's okay! Anyone who is a real friend will understand, and those who don't, well, those are the ones you need to drop, for your own well being. Being guilted into feeling bad because you're not hanging out with the gang enough is just not good for your mental well-being.

  8. Miss Cat

    I especially love the "know your boundries" point. It's taken me a long time to accept that I'm not someone who rages or really wants to extensively travel. I like being at home on a Friday night watching Netflix – and that's okay! It's great to grow up and learn to accept and even embrace those things about yourself.


  9. Allison

    These are all awesome. Not knowing #3 was the source of many regrets from college.

    I'm trying to take more time to think about how I spend my time and the things I do, and ask myself "Do I really enjoy this, or do I just want to enjoy this?" It's harder than it sounds to come up with the honest answer!

  10. Chani

    Love this article! I'm going to add it to my notes I have on developing my business. Anyway, I guess one thing I do to practice self-love is to walk away or remove myself from a situation. This isn't about avoiding an issue that may need to be addressed, but is those times when tempers are starting to flare- whether mine or someone else's, or when I'm been chewed out by something while trying to do the thing they asked to do.

    It's seems kind of rude to say "I'm not going to listen to this right now" or "No, I do not want to spend time with anyone. I need some space to myself for a bit" sometimes, but I found it's much better than me getting angry and snapping at someone, or letting the things others say get to me, and entering a negative head space because of it. It just isn't productive- and can be unhealthy!- to try and talk when everyone is worked up. It's much easier when things settle and people have had a chance to calm down. Some people don't always react positively to this approach at first, but it seems to be better in the long run.

    Thanks for this beautiful post!

  11. Kaisa

    Love this post! All so true! I really have nothing to add, but just agree. It's so important to be true to yourself and selective about the people in your life.

  12. Heike Herrling

    This is an awesome reminder in life to keep yourself focused on being you first. And that is awesome. Because, I find, if you're not you first, you aren't much good to anyone else! Awesome post.

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