Self-love |ˈsɛlfˈlʌv| (noun) — “A regard for one’s own wellbeing and happiness. Chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic trait.”

Open question: The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. Can you love someone else if you don’t love yourself?

In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, PEERS Program Assistant Vilma Sakalauskaite recently gave a presentation on self-love. Self-love, Vilma suggests, is an essential prerequisite for successful friendships and relationships. Here are five easy strategies from PEERS staff for cultivating self-love and wellbeing:

Nancy Lee, Finance Director: 

Sometimes with self-love it’s hard to know where to start. A piece of advice of that worked for me is to find a picture of yourself as a child and, after closing your eyes, imagine embracing the child. Give compassion and acceptance to the child, knowing in the back of your mind that they are really you! This exercise helped me overcome unresolved feelings and negative messages by seeing myself as innocent once again. I realized that, deep down, I was still a lovable person, just like child I once was.”

Zakiya Johnson, Program Assistant:

“Different tools help different people. For me, the key to self-love is all about remembering to prioritize ME. So often, we give all our time and energy to serving and helping those we love. Don’t give more than you have to give. Remember to take the time to give to yourself too.”

Vilma Sakalauskaite, Program Assistant:

My go-to strategy is to repeat positive affirmations about myself. For example: ‘I do enough, I have enough, I am enough!” or “I am a human BEING, not a human DOING!” Affirmations are a powerful way to modify negative self-talk and nurture a healthy, empowered, respectful relationship with yourself.”

Nancy Lee, Finance Director:

My other piece of advice is: listen to your body! When you’re tired, sleep. When you’re hungry, eat. Sometimes we get caught up and ignore what our own bodies are telling us. By suppressing these needs, we do a lot of damage to ourselves in the long term. We are worth it. Trust what your body is telling you.”

Steve Hayes, BestNow! Intern:

“Notice your negative thinking patterns about yourself and develop a strategy for tackling the negative voices in your head. My own strategy involves imagining that I have a magic sword that can silence adverse thoughts and ideas. It doesn’t always have to be an established therapeutic practice; it just has to work for you!”

Dear reader, please treat yourself as kindly as you treat others. Properly practiced self-love improves wellness and quality of life. When you love and take care of yourself, you actually have a better emotional wellness, mental health, and overall wellbeing. Happy Valentines Day to all!