31 Ways I'm Loving Myself Better This February
By Elizabeth Villa
2017 was a real shit show for me. Most of my energy was spent trying to keep my head above water – an effort that taught me a lot about myself but didn’t give me a chance to try out what I was learning. That means I ended the year with a long list of things I wanted to do, experience, and feel in 2017 that I didn’t.
I wrote that list down and made it my New Year’s Resolution. All of it. After taking January to rest and "just be", I've decided to make February the month I start putting this list into action. After all, February is a month of love. What better time is there to start loving myself better?
A FEW THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ME FIRST
I spent the majority of my twenties in a relationship that was eventually a marriage that eventually ended. It’s been a year and I’m still in the thick of those feels. (Anyone know if I’ll ever not be in the thick of those feels?)
I just moved into a new apartment, with a new roommate, in a new part of the city. It’s the first time since my divorce that I get to move forward in my own way which is exciting and so very terrifying.
Because the past few years have been a fight or flight fueled emotional roller coaster, there’s a lot of basic self-care I’ve been neglecting and my body is feeling it.
A RULE FOR MY LIST
I generally judge myself on three things: my ability to avoid hurt, my ability to appear perfect to other people, and whether or not I have my shit together. But judging myself that way doesn’t leave room for real growth – the kind of growth that’s the result of heartbreak, mistakes, and messiness – and that’s my goal for this year. While the idea of that kind of growth makes me break out in hives, it’s what I truly want for myself. With this list I’m creating a new grading rubric that no longer rewards avoiding the hard parts of growth but embraces them instead.
OKAY, HERE’S THE LIST
It’s important to note that while this list is challenging it’s also really possible. My goal is to do as many of these things as I can in February and then repeat it in future months. It definitely won’t be perfect, but the attempt will help me create a habit of doing the hard things that are good for me.
Cry: I’m way better at thinking than feeling.
Take an epsom salt bath: I’m dealing with some muscle pain, people!
F*ck it all up: It’s good to remember that I can come back from really big mistakes.
Stand up for myself: It’s easier for me to just walk away.
Move my body until I can’t even: A good way to remember how capable I am.
Put myself out there: Risk rejection and potentially gain connection.
Go to dinner by myself: Being alone doesn’t have to be so scary.
Do something scary: Rock climbing, bike riding, group exercise classes… the list goes on.
Be awkward AF: The fear of being socially awkward keeps me from doing fun things.
Deep clean something: It feels good to be an adult.
Cook a day of meals at home: Cooking is a self-care practice I love but have recently forgotten.
Don’t say sorry: I tend to lead with apologies.
Trust my gut: Even though it’s less scary to get the buy in of five friends first.
“Go Back In”: A phrase Elizabeth Gilbert uses when there’s still more to learn from a tough situation.
Read something that’s “too smart” for me: I’m insecure about not being able to hang “intellectually” so I don’t.
Play music: Music is an old hobby that brings me comfort and inspires confidence.
Write it all out: I get trapped in my head too often.
Do a body scrub: My skin gets really itchy if I don’t, yet I rarely do.
Do a group activity with strangers: Strangers and group activities make me so nervous.
Go to a Farmer’s Market: There’s one in my new neighborhood I think I’m going to love.
Have a tough conversation: Don’t be afraid to make some waves.
Go off the grid: Take the rest you need without any guilt.
Meditate: Practice mindfulness even when stillness is scary.
Drink the right amount of water: A forever struggle.
Take my vitamins: I have a stockpile of vitamins.
Ask an embarrassing question: I spend too much time trying not to appear stupid.
Be selfish: Fight against the narrative that doing something for you is selfish.
Host someone for dinner: Put my not-so-great cooking on display.
Stretch: My 5’10” inflexible body is begging for it.
Ask for a favor: I’m always afraid of being an inconvenience.
Let someone in: Take the walls down for a minute.
HOW WILL YOU LOVE YOURSELF BETTER?
This list started as scribbles on a piece of paper at a sushi bar. If you gave yourself 10 minutes to write down everything you’d like to do for yourself this month and this year, what would be on your list?
OK, now do it.
If you can’t think of a whole list, how about thinking of one thing you can do this month to love yourself a little better? Please don’t make me do this alone. Just kidding, I’m totally cool with doing things alone (I see you #7).
Elizabeth Villa is a 29-year-old entrepreneur living and working in Los Angeles. She recently started Do The Good Stuff, changed her marital status, and started a new life on her own. Her experiences and conversations have made her an advocate for pursuing health and wellness on your own terms as one way to claim your space in the world.