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Self-love blog graphicWhy does cupid get all the attention on Valentine’s Day? There’s more to love than just loving another. We’re talking about self-love.

With all this love talk, we think it’s the perfect time to take a look inward and do an inventory. In what ways are you showing yourself some love? What areas could use a little boost?

In this guide, we’ll give you the practical how-to on self-love and self-care without the fluff (okay, maybe just a touch of fluff), as well as a curated product guide containing the essentials to get started showing up for yourself with some l.o.v.e.


Our top 15 ways to practice self-love  |  Curated Self-Love Essentials

What is self-love?

First thing’s first: what is it? Yes, doing a weekly mani-pedi or face mask are both ways to give yourself a little TLC, but they aren’t the whole self-love picture. Self-love is loving and taking care of mind (aka your emotions), body, and soul. It’s the whole enchilada. And not just taking care of them – loving them, unapologetically and (moving toward) completely.

What’s the difference between self-love and self-care?

Self-care is one way in which self-love can manifest itself, and self-care actions are ways in which you can boost feelings of self-love. But taking amazing bubble baths and doing weekly face masks don’t necessarily mean you love your skin or your body. That requires not just having an amazing skincare regimen, but going deeper to dive into truly loving your body, as well as your spirit and your mind.

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How can I practice self-love?

Keyword: Practice. Self-love isn’t a destination. It’s making consistent choices each and every day that demonstrate you know your own worth and that you’re willing to act in ways that honor your self-worth.  That doesn’t mean selfish decisions or decisions that are always easy. In fact, sometimes acting in self-love means making hard decisions (like choosing to move or break up with a partner) or acting with someone else’s best interest in mind, which can boost self-esteem (like compromising with a partner to keep a relationship healthy or taking care of a sick loved one).

Thinking of self-love as a journey, as opposed to a destination can take the pressure off. You get an opportunity to act with self-love every time you make a decision – and consistently making choices that are in line with your values and in your best interest is what self-love looks like on the ground.


Our top 15 ways to practice self-love

Mind:

  1. Speak to yourself kindly. What if a friend spoke to you the way you spoke to yourself? Would you feel loved and admired or hurt and rejected? Practice speaking to yourself with words of love, admiration, and affection. Not sure where to start? Begin with awareness of your inner dialogue. Once you know how you speak to yourself, you can make changes.
  2. Set strong boundaries. Where in your life could you use some firmer boundaries? Work-life balance? Relationship expectations? Cell phone usage? Toxic friendships? Setting boundaries can be uncomfortable – for you and those involved – but they’re necessary and healthy. Practice saying “no” where you can: to taking on too much, to allowing others to drain your time and energy without reciprocating, and to all of the ways you overextend yourself.
  3. Be curious about your feelings. One great step towards emotional health is being curious about your feelings. Instead of moving away from what you’re feeling, approach it with curiosity to understand without judgement. Understanding what you’re feeling and why without harsh self-criticism can help you notice patterns and lead to greater self-awareness.
  4. Exercise. Wait, did we put exercise in the wrong category? Nope! We’re talking exercise for mental health, not just physical health. When we encounter a stressor, our body responds both physically and physiologically. It’s the automatic fight or flight response, which puts our body in overdrive, a state that isn’t healthy to be in long-term. When the body physically perceives that the threat is gone, the body returns to its baseline, completing what some researchers call a stress response cycle. The most effective way to “trick” the body into registering that stress is over is physical activity. Even if we continually face a difficult situation day after day, through physical activity, we can diffuse stress. Aim for thirty minutes of exercise each day.
  5.  Set your own standards of self-worth. Investigate your held standards of self-worth. Were they placed there by someone else (i.e. parents, society, friends, work, etc.)? Or are they ones that you hold based on your own values and truth? Practice self-talk and decisions that are in line with your own standards of self-worth. This is a job that is never done; you’ll likely spend the rest of your life reconciling your truth with the truths of others. Get comfortable with this process!

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Body:

  1. Get enough sleep. Enough said! Eight hours. Every night. (Or almost every night.)
  2. Prepare healthy meals. Take care of yourself and your future self by preparing healthy meals. Allow for indulgences occasionally, without guilt. Health isn’t just about nutrients; it’s about balance and pleasure too!
  3. Take care of your body. Here’s where traditional self-care comes in. Indulge in that bubble bath with candles. Book a massage. Enjoy a luxurious face mask with a cup of tea. Enjoy the glam side of self-care.
  4. Choose nontoxic products. Choosing products made with safer ingredients and materials can help reduce your body burden – your body’s “load” of toxic substances. We’ve got your back. Shop MADE SAFE certified products to ensure you’re choosing items that are safer for you and the planet.
  5. Seek touch. Connect with others on a physical level. “Others” can be a friend, lover, or even your pet. Hugging or kissing someone you love and trust can help you de-stress. (Shoot for a handful of hugs a day and one six-second kiss!) And petting your dog or cat can reduce stress levels too.

Spirit:

  1. Practice gratitude. Studies have demonstrated that practicing gratitude is associated with greater positive feelings and feelings of happiness. Practicing gratitude can take many forms – journaling, silent affirmations whenever you’re feeling grateful, writing letters to people in your life that you’d like to thank, and more. Find what works for you and practice regularly.
  2. Volunteer. Yes, it might be counterintuitive to give outward to give inward, but giving to others can boost self-esteem and self-confidence. Find a cause that you love and give back. Just wait and watch your feelings of connection and self-love grow.
  3. Seek meaningful connection. Finding and connecting with people that share similar interests to you can be powerful. It can combat feelings of loneliness and make you feel more plugged into your community. It can build self-confidence, increase the fun factor in your life, and so much more.
  4. Get outside. Is a self-love guide complete without mentioning getting outside? It’s likely you’ve read the research – being outside has been associated with positive feelings, helps you get your daily dose of vitamin D, and reduces stress. Aim for green spaces like parks and nature reserves. If you’re near a body of water, seek it out!
  5. Meditate. The potential benefits of a meditation practice are abundant – reduced stress and anxiety, more mindfulness and presence in everyday life, increased clarity and calm, improved focused, more compassion… the list goes on. Though meditating might sound intimidating, it’s easier than you think to get started. Check out our favorite way by reading our product guide below.

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Self-Love On-the-Ground Tips:
  • It’s all about practice. Did you notice that the word “practice” appears numerous times throughout this piece? Habits take time to establish. Don’t aim for perfection. And remember that every choice you make is an opportunity to act in the interest of self-love.
  • Approach self-love with self-compassion. You won’t get it right every day and you won’t find time for self-care every day. That’s ok.
  • You aren’t given time for self-love and self-care. You must take time. Make space in your schedule to practice self-love and self-care.
  • Self-love does not have to be earned. As in, you don’t “deserve” self-love after the dishes are done, the huge work project is done, or after you’ve found financial freedom. Nope, you deserve self-love and self-care right now, regardless of external circumstances.

Curated Self-Love Essentials

Kate McLeod
Sleep Stone

Kate McLeod Sleep Stone imageThis moisturizer, shaped like a stone, is comprised of deeply moisturizing ingredients like cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, with chamomile and lavender added to lull you to sleep. Kate McLeod recommends using this as a nightly ritual and we couldn’t agree more. Building in time for a mindful self-massage, even just a couple minutes, can help you decompress and reset before falling into slumber.

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Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
By Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski*

Burnout book cover imageBurnout is essential reading for every woman in the modern age of working too hard and resting too little. Authors Emily and Amelia gather research from numerous disciplines, distilling and translating it into achievable and actionable steps to reduce stress in your life. They do it all with humor, empathy, and awareness of the unique challenges women face. The first sentence of the book reads: “This is a book for any woman who has felt overwhelmed and exhausted by everything she had to do, and yet still worried she was not doing ‘enough.’” Ring any bells? This book’s for you.

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Annmarie Skin Care
Gua Sha Lifting Tool*Gua sha lifting tool image

Gua sha – translated roughly as “raking” – is an ancient Chinese technique where therapists apply pressure to the body or face using handheld tools to increase blood and lymph flow. Devotees swear they’ve seen clearer skin, less inflammation, and tighter skin, but one of the biggest benefits is deep relaxation. The movements should be intentional, gently forcing you to be present and slow down. The technique does require a little bit of prep research and mindfulness to get it down, but gua sha enthusiasts – a MADE SAFE staffer included – swear it’s worth the time.

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Decomposition
Notebooks*

Decomposition book imageYour affirmations, intentions to set boundaries, self-love rituals, gratitude journaling, and daily musings need an attractive and functional home. We like Decomposition notebooks – they’re affordable and made with 100 percent post-consumer waste and soy ink. A beautiful vessel for life’s beautiful messiness. Don’t forget to review what you write often – frequently re-visiting goals is more likely to help you stay on track.

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Coyuchi
Unisex Organic Waffle Robe

Coyuchi Organic Waffle Robe imageEveryone practices their own flavor of “self-love.” If an at-home spa day or lounging around at home is your flavor, Coyuchi’s Organic Waffle Robe will level up your practice. Comprised of 100% organic cotton, it gets softer with each wash and is gentle on the planet too.

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True Botanicals
True Botanicals Resurfacing Body Mask imageResurfacing Body Mask

If masks are your go-to “me moment,” why not expand your repertoire to a body mask? Your body needs to feel the love too! Might we recommend you spend your time while masking reflecting on all of the amazing things your body does for you and allows you to do?

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Headspace
Meditation App*

Headspace logoThe potential benefits of meditation are abundant – reduced stress and anxiety, more mindfulness and presence in everyday life, increased clarity and calm, improved focus, more compassion… the list goes on. And while we know it’s good for us, meditation can just feel hard. Where do you even start? How do you do it? For how long? Headspace makes it easy for beginners and established practitioners alike with beginner tutorials, themed courses, single meditations, SOS meditations, and even mindful activities like cleaning or walking. You choose the length – as little as one minute (which is totally enough to reset, by the way) and up to twenty.

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Saladish: A Crunchier, Grainier, Herbier, Heartier, Tastier Way with Vegetables
By Ilene Rosen*

Saladish book imageAs an admirer of New York’s City Bakery, MADE SAFE founder Amy Ziff was thrilled when Chef Ilene Rosen published Saladish. After the bakery closed some years back, Ilene’s addictive vegetable-forward dishes were once again within reach. Saladish is the perfect way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet that you actually want to eat. With page after page of enticing recipes, Saladish will make your self-love goal of eating well easier and much, much more enjoyable.

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S.W. Basics ExfoliantS.W. Basics
Exfoliant

Organic oat and almond flours are combined with sea salt for a simple, yet effective exfoliant that leaves skin feeling soft and smooth. Customize it to your needs using what you already have in the kitchen. Add avocado oil to make it nourishing or plain Greek yogurt for breakouts. Taking care of your skin is definitely an act of self-care.

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Brentwood Home
Luxury Organic Cotton Sheets

Brentwood Home Organic Cotton Sheets image

Brentwood Home’s Luxury Organic Cotton Sateen Finish Sheets (in either 400 or 600 thread count) are next level eco-luxury. Consider them a good reason to embrace the might of the power nap and the rejuvenating effect of lazy Sundays in bed. Remember that rest is not a privilege; it’s a necessity!

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AH YES water based lube image

AH! YES
Organic Personal Lubricants

Working toward loving and appreciating your body is an important aspect of self-love, and AH! YES’s personal lubricants are a perfect tool to help you in your quest. They’re made with MADE SAFE and organic certified ingredients for an experience that’s gentle on the most sensitive parts of your body and the planet.

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Flipd
Phone Detox App*

Flipd logoHow much time do you spend on your phone? It might be more than you think… Flipd helps you regain control of your time by showing you how much time you’ve spent away and on your phone. The goal isn’t zero screen time, but rather to bring mindfulness into your approach so that the time you do spend is conscious and intentional. Flipd not your thing? There are numerous other apps to help you detox from your phone. Try: AppDetox, Freedom, or Off the Grid.

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Radiance Dream Essential OilCVS Radiance
Dream Essential Oil Blend

Diffuse calming essential oils like lavender, vetiver and cedarwood to send yourself to la la land. Or mist it on your pillow! We recommend incorporating the blend into a nightly ritual that helps you wind down, reflect, and serves as a signal to your body that it’s time for rest.

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Prima Night Magic imagePrima
Night Magic

Let your sleep work harder for you. Night Magic is designed with a targeted combination of potent botanical oils with vitamin E and K, phytosterols, natural fatty acids, and cannabinoids with the aim of improving skin integrity, cellular balance, and hydration. Unlock glowing skin with a curated blend of oils and highly concentrated hemp plant extract. “Beauty rest” has been redefined.

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Idealist.org
Volunteer Opportunities*

Idealist logoYes, this guide is focused on the self, but surprisingly, focusing outward and helping others can increase self-love, self-confidence, and connection. Giving back to your community can increase feelings of compassion and understanding, working with others can make you feel more connected, and learning new skills can create feelings of self-confidence. It might feel counterintuitive, but going outward can help you go inward. There are numerous other ways beyond Idealist to find opportunities to volunteer. Try VolunteerMatch.Org, reaching out to local faith-based communities, local charities that you know and admire like the Humane Society or food banks, or asking friends where they volunteer.

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Naturepedic
Organic Cotton & Natural Latex PillowsNaturepedic pillow image

Sleep game not so strong? Upgrade your pillow to a nontoxic, sustainable one from Naturepedic. Getting enough Zzz’s is crucial for so many reasons – reducing stress, allowing your body to perform rejuvenating and healing functions, and feeling alive and engaged. Facilitate good sleep with a good pillow. And if you really want to up the ante, consider swapping your mattress for one of Naturepedic’s MADE SAFE certified mattresses.

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Freegirl Ambitious AHA Gel Mask imageFreegirl
Ambitious AHA Gel Mask

The mask is the OG of self-care. Slather on this mask made with acids and enzymes from plants like bilberry, orange, and lemon while soaking in a hot bath. Exfoliates with no scrubbing required! This classic self-care ritual is classic for a reason; supercharge it by masking with a favorite book, a phone call with your bestie, or listing all of the ways you’re powerful.

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mykind Organics
Vitamins, Herbals and Target Nutrients*

mykind Organics multi imageIf self-love for you takes the form of giving your body a little TLC, you may want to consider if you’re getting all of your essential vitamins and nutrients. If not, a vitamin might be right for you. We love mykind Organics. Choose from multivitamins, organic herbals (like elderberry and turmeric) and targeted nutrients (like Vitamin C and B12) when you need a little extra boost. They’re certified USDA organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan, use plant-based binders, and get their sweetness from organic fruit. (Remember to consult your doc before taking any new vitamins or supplements!)

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Meetup
Platform for building community*

Meetup logoMeetup, an online platform, helps you find events, groups, and movements in your area – from knitting clubs and board game nights to ultimate frisbee and wine enthusiasts. You can even create a group of your own if you can’t yet find what you’re looking for.

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* Note: These products are staff favorites and not MADE SAFE certified.

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