During my quest to treat myself a bit more than I had been, I purchased several self-care products and services and had other ones gifted to me. Here’s a round-up of my ten favorites (plus a few honorable mentions) that I’ll continue to use in 2019 and beyond. Consider gifting these to yourself or a friend this holiday season.
As my 25th birthday approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about my where and who I was in my younger years. It’s pretty wild to consider how much I’ve grown and changed since I was five, ten, sixteen, or twenty-one.
Anxiety pushes many of us to keep our guard up at all times. It makes trusting others and ourselves difficult. It convinces us to believe and listen to our fears instead of confronting them.
Without any sort of treatment, anxiety can make you feel like a prisoner to your own thoughts.
I’ve been there. My anxiety reached an all-time high during my college years and was the absolute worst during my senior year in 2015. Everyone thought I was thriving because I was losing weight, meanwhile I couldn’t go one day without panicking about class, friendships, my identity, my body, or whatever else made my heart race. It was a painful existence.
Shortly after graduation, my circle convinced me to find my first therapist. Once I began to trust my therapist, I began to talk about my true thoughts, fears, and feelings to her. This is when I learned that one of the most effective ways to confront anxiety is by opening up about it. I began to be more vulnerable with my close friends and family as a result. My life drastically improved thanks to the lessons I gained in therapy.
Flash forward to mid-March 2018 when my relationship with my ex-fiancee ended and my wedding was cancelled. Engagement life had been pretty good, so the trauma of this event blindsided me and hit hard. I had never experienced this kind of heartbreak before.
I was particularly devastated when my ex posted a too-casual status on Facebook about the ordeal, announcing our break-up publicly without my consent. Many of my friends and family members found out by reading the status, and some of them reached out to me with screenshots attached. It was extremely upsetting. My power was taken away from me and it felt like there wasn’t much I could do.
Having to do the post-break-up social media clean-up (untagging photos, new profile pictures, relationship status adjustment) was expected, but I had no intention of writing anything about it on a public forum. I desperately wanted my pain to be private, but my ex made that impossible once the status was posted.
Anxiety quickly overtook my sadness: What would people think of me based on that status? What did this failed engagement say about me? The sense of control I had thought I had achieved in my life was gone and anxiety took its’ place.
After wracking my brain for a while and talking about it with my closest friends, I decided to post my own status and take my power back. My voice deserved to be in the mix, and it wouldn’t be unless I myself spoke up. I wrote with true vulnerability behind my words, and my status was honest and raw.
Once it was posted, I felt relieved to have my feelings out in the open. I wasn’t hiding. I was very-much still in the throes of heartbreak (and I honestly will be for some time) but writing candidly about it made it feel less shameful. Those who hadn’t seen the other status flooded my comments with words of support, and that helped too. I flew to Paris a few days later and tried to walk with my head held high.
Since then, I’ve strived to be more vulnerable on a regular basis as a way to cope with the anxiety this break-up reignited in me. I’ve also aimed to expand the range of my vulnerability. My first round of therapy helped me open up to close friends and some family, but that was pretty much the extent of my openness. Now I’m trying to be even more vulnerable on both a private and public level. A few recent examples:
Talking to a stranger in Paris about the break-up a week after it happened
Working through a panic attack with my parents present and making a plan together
Speaking to other LGBTQ+ folks at queer events about identity and dating struggles
Opening up about body-shaming in the past (see Instagram post below)
Admitting fitness fears to my personal trainer and then conquering them together
Starting and maintaining this blog
Each act of vulnerability has helped me feel less anxious in general. Speaking about what scares me helps me accept each fear a little more. This in turn gives the anxiety less power. I am better able to recognize that an anxious thought popping into my head is usually a distortion: Just because I think it doesn’t mean it is true or that I have to be dictated by it.
Unlocking the door and throwing away the key is ultimately bringing me more peace because I have no secrets to burden me. The pressure to be perfect is slowly but surely disappearing. Fear used to impact my decisions, but now love and kindness act as my primary guides.
I’m sure some people disagree with being as vulnerable as I have been as of late, but most of my circle has expressed positive feedback. I typically find that anyone listening is sympathetic rather than judgmental. The judgement I’m afraid of tends to be a product of my own imagination. We are all in our own heads all the time and are often too busy worrying about ourselves to judge others.
Many people have told me they relate to what I’m feeling, and that helps normalize my feelings and mental health issues in general. It’s essential to remember that we are all fighting our own battles regardless of if we are sharing our battles with others. Choosing to be open about these battles can and will help others.
Does the notion of opening up terrify you? Consider trying therapy first, as it is a way to receive an unbiased response.
If you want to be more vulnerable with your inner circle, start with something small, something with low stakes so you won’t be too intimidated. Maybe tell an embarrassing story to a friend or let yourself cry in front of someone you trust.
Being vulnerable about your anxiety won’t cure it, but doing so can certainly lift some weight of your shoulders. You are not alone in your thoughts and feelings, and sharing them with the world proves you are courageous and strong. I look forward to continuing to live with an open heart and spirit, and I hope doing so will help others as well.
In the age of crippling college debt and chaotic headlines, showing yourself love is harder than ever. It feels impossible to find inner peace in a world full of pressure.
Who can pursue passion projects when the rent forces many of us to have multiple day jobs? How can we appreciate our own bodies when society continues to support the idea that some of them are not good enough?
Capitalism sets us up to always want more, and this affects our mental well-being. We are not supposed to be satisfied with what we have and who we are; we must always try to be better, richer, known. If we’re not productive as possible, we’re useless. If our latest post on Instagram doesn’t get any likes, we are failures. It’s an endless loop that is exhausting.
Screw all of that.
In fact, I think you should screw that with a nice dose of radical self-love.
Practicing self-love in a significant way can be the ultimate middle finger to the societal constructs that aim to limit us, particularly for people of color, trans folks, differently-abled people, and women.
I believe that self-love is radical in various ways. It challenges the white patriarchal standards that define our culture. It empowers us to think about ourselves and other differently. It causes us to act out of kindness instead of fear or anger.
Don’t confuse radical self-love with basic self-care. This isn’t about brushing your teeth. Radical self-love is deeper. It is performing actions that are purely for your mind and spirit. It is selfishness that helps you own and celebrate yourself. This selfishness leads to you feeling your best in a culture that wants you to struggle.
I’ve been consciously practicing radical self-love for the past few months. It all started in March with a solo trip to Paris in the midst of heartbreak. That journey was a gift to a weary soul: it made me think differently about how I deserve to be treated by myself and others. It helped me believe that I have an inner-power that can guide me through dark times.
Since then, I’ve been striving to prioritize radical self-love. It isn’t always easy, but practicing it more consistently has continued to help me heal little by little.
I strongly encourage you, unique reader with lovely personal qualities, to consider how you treat yourself. What is the tone of your inner thoughts? Do you judge yourself? If you realize you’re kinder to strangers than you are to yourself, then maybe you should give radical self-love a try.
The best part about radical-self love is that it can be practiced in various ways. Acts can range from minuscule to grandiose. Your personality and interests will dictate what types of radical acts will be impactful for you.
Get inspired by this list of forty possible acts of self-love you can try. I’ve tried to include a huge range of activities ranging from physical to mental, free to expensive. Try one that immediately to speaks to you or maybe one that you’re afraid of. Practicing any of the radical acts of self-love could change your view of yourself and the world around you:
Start a new journal and write down at least one good thing that happened daily
Spend some time in nature, whether that be for a walk at your local park or a longer camping trip
Compliment yourself every time you look in the mirror
Prepare and eat your favorite meal
Exercise with the intention of enjoying it instead of doing it because you have to
Curate a list of your favorite inspirational quotes and look at the list whenever you’re feeling down
Listen to your intuition and act on it – do what feels right rather than what is expected
Turn on some up-beat tunes and dance
Hang out with your pet or visit a friend who has a pet you can hang out with
Express your feelings openly
Sing with the car windows down
Stay in bed when your body wants to rest – push that snooze button
Book a solo vacation and do whatever you want once you reach your destination
Meditate a little or a lot
Visit a nearby beach, river, pool, or lake and take a swim – feel the water hold your body
Say no when you want to and don’t feel sorry about it
Donate clothes or items that have negative feelings attached to them – keep anything that brings you joy
Sit outside when it is sunny and soak up the rays (with proper sun protection of course)
Write yourself a love letter and read it
Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers
Turn off your cell phone for an hour, day, week, or longer
Write down your regrets on a piece of paper and proceed to light that paper on fire in the safest way possible (or rip it into tiny pieces to avoid the pyro aspect)
Give yourself a pep talk when you need one – think about what you would want a coach or mentor to say to you and say it out loud
Pamper yourself with a massage, facial, or pedicure (maybe do all three if you’re feeling fancy)
Stretch in the morning, in the evening, and whenever you want to in between
Enjoy a favorite childhood movie or book
Cuddle your pet or say hi to a friendly dog on the street (with permission from the owner of course)
Talk to a therapist often or occasionally when you’re suffering, thriving, and existing
Leave an encouraging post-it note for a stranger to discover and let the good vibes flow
Learn a new craft and make art for yourself and others
Buy yourself a scoop of your favorite ice cream and pay for the next customer’s order as well
Look at old photos and feel the nostalgia
Send a thank you letter to someone who has made a positive impact on your life
Watch a comedy special or funny video online and laugh out loud
Cease communication with someone who makes you feel bad
Improve your sleep with a new pillow, mattress pad, or relaxing essential oils
Give meaningful compliments to others and accept the compliments people make about you instead of shrugging them off
Complete a nagging task that has been on your to-do list – feel relieved when it’s done
Live in the present and do what you want now – not tomorrow, not this summer, not next year – now
Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your favorite acts of self-love in the comments – I’m always open to new suggestions to try!
Music can change my mood instantly. That’s why whenever I’m feeling a little down, I turn up the tunes and dance around my room. It’s the quickest way to make myself feel better.
I’ve been working on building mood-specific playlists to be able to access at a moments notice. I’ll continue to share them here as I make more. This first one is pretty special.
Check out my Self-Love Playlist on Spotify. It’s perfect for those moments when you need a little boost of confidence, for those times you’re doubting your self worth and need a little reminder from Kelly Clarkson and RuPaul of how freaking awesome you are. From upbeat pop hits to strong ballads, you’ll find yourself grinning as you hum along at the gym, in the car, or at your desk.
Regarded as a class LGBTQ+ anthem, this will always be my favorite Diana Ross song and it deserves a top spot on this playlist. It’s upbeat and breezy and can put a spring in your step. Walk down the streets to this disco beat and let the world know you’re here!
This dance hit quickly became a pride staple, and deservedly so. While I’m not a religion person, the sentiment is stronger than those particular lyrics in my opinion. This classic Gaga track makes a strong statement, and it’s a nice reminder that I, too, am on the right track.
This is the song that pops in my head whenever I’m on cloud nine. The fasttempo, the fun lyrics, and Freddie’s vocals all make this a upbeat track a great one to celebrate your inner power. Listen to it when you’re feeling low and psyche yourself out!
Lizzo is the intersectional hero we all need, and all of her music clearly reflects this. I strive to be as confident as Lizzo seems. Play this track when you’re getting ready in the morning and you’ll feel good as hell about yourself too.
One of my favorite bands in the New York area, Boy Band is a group of three young women who make really empowering music. This track, a personal highlight on their first EP, encourages you to be the “strongest flower rising from the mud.”
You can check out the whole Self-Love Playlist track list below:
What are you favorite songs about loving yourself? Share them in the comments and I’ll consider adding them to the playlist. Happy listening, folks!