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February 14, 2019

Regardless of how you define it, self-love can seem like a lofty idea—or a glorious place in life you’ll get to one day "when you've figured it all out." But the truth is, you can practice self-love by prioritizing yourself as soon as, well, today. In fact, reading this article is one way you're already showing yourself love!

It can be easy to do something that makes you feel good once in a while—bubble baths, face masks—and leave it at that. But like most relationships in life, building a relationship with yourself takes consistent effort, and requires you to take things one step at a time. There are so many ways we can show ourselves some love on a daily basis—and by doing them, build a self-love practice over time. Here are a few ways to get started.

Like most relationships in life, building a relationship with yourself takes consistent effort, and requires us to take things one step at a time.

Listen to your favorite music

I’ll admit it—I’m 100% guilty of putting a song on repeat when it brings me joy (most likely it’s Lizzo). But research shows that playing songs that are tinged with nostalgia can actually help us manage stress and is proven to actually make us feel good. Embrace that and let yourself dive fully into throwbacks by making a playlist just for you.

Take time to breathe

Spoiler alert: every study ever done about breathing shows that a quick deep breathe can relieve stress.We all know this, but sometimes it can be hard to remember.

Today, show yourself some love by taking a step from the computer, phone, notebook — getting some time in a 'third space' like a bathroom, car or by hopping outside — and take three deep breathes.

Switch things up

As humans, we are creatures of habit—but I find that when I make small changes in my day, I often notice things I never had before that inject a bit of excitement and newness in my life. By switching things up on my walk to the subway or buying my groceries from a new store, I’m able to be more mindful about my actions instead of just going through the motions—and that feels good.

Say no

Protecting your energy is an easy way to ensure you are giving yourself time to recharge and avoid burnout. Don’t forget—when we say no, we’re asking someone to trust that we have boundaries and aren’t willing to negotiate on them. Although it may not always be easy, sticking up for yourself is an act of self-love and one way to show yourself that you're willing to put yourself first.

Give yourself a room to daydream

Because we live in a hustle-focused era, we can forget the power of 'wasting time.' The good news? There are real perks to taking a mental break and daydreaming. Let your imagination wander and embrace where it takes you—it might bring about some exciting new ideas or help you get focused on that thing you've felt a little murky on.

Focus on your self-talk

Every time you catch your inner-critic talking, take a moment to flip the script. The voice in your head that might tell you you’re not good enough? Bring it in for a hug and warm cup of cocoa. Try to practice self-kindness by changing each negative into a positive. For example, turn “ehh that wasn't a very good presentation” into “I did the best I could in the moment.”

Enjoy a hobby

Whether it's bike riding, getting crafty and taking some creative Insta photos— dedicating time to your passions can help exercise different parts of your brain and relieve stress. If you don’t have a hobby, make time for yourself to explore new activities. Trying something new can be a great way to build community, and spark joy in your day—even if you’re not perfect at it.

Cook a meal for yourself

You can’t have self-care without self-love, and one way to channel both is through cooking. Whether you’re creating a recipe your familiar with, or trying your hand at something new, take time to savor the process of cooking for yourself.

Build an affirmation practice

Taking 5 minutes every day to remind yourself of your power is a sure way to build a habit of practicing self-love. Find a way to tap into your values with your personal mantra, and repeat as many times as necessary.

Get some sleep

Sleep—it’s the most obvious, and yet still the most magical ingredient of self-care, and optimizing it can help you destress, get rid of some mental clutter, and be more productive. Pencil in time to make sure to get some quality zzz’s in and you’ll start to see a healthier you.

Make time for gratitude

Gratitude practices don’t have to be as daunting as they may seem. Start small by naming one thing about yourself that you’re grateful for today. Maybe it’s your ability to bounce back after spilling coffee, or maybe it’s your ability to savor downtime with colleagues. Whatever it is, own it! It makes you, you—and taking stock of that is what self-love is all about.

Read next: 13 Powerful Quotes From Black Women About Self-Love