Gestures of self-love can be helpful when we’re emotionally depleted or feeling down. Whether or not we have people in our lives extending love and support our way, self-love and caring for ourselves is important when we’re feeling low or stretched thin. While relationships with others are referred to as interpersonal relationships, the relationship we have with ourselves is known as the intrapersonal relationship. A strong intrapersonal relationship and an ability to care for our own needs and emotions compassionately is key to mental health maintenance.

Now don’t get me wrong… Bubble baths and pedicures are nice, but the more intentional we can be about nurturing our own needs and emotions, the more likely we are to find acts of self-love to be meaningful and satisfying. Let’s think about what gestures of love and compassion look like in an interpersonal relationship. We can then try taking these gestures and creatively come up with an intrapersonal version to give ourselves.

Some examples:

If you enjoy words of encouragement to a friend in conversation or text, you can write a letter of encouragement to yourself in your journal. Write out a meaningful affirmation on your bathroom mirror in a dry erase marker.

If you enjoy getting a hug from a loved one, you can cozy up under a weighted blanket or try doing something that gives your body a sensation that feels comforting. For example, standing against a wall with a tennis ball between the wall and your back is a great self-massage technique.

If you enjoy quality time together enjoying an activity of shared interest, you can prioritize time for a hobby you enjoy that you can do on your own. Maybe it’s doing a jigsaw puzzle while listening to your favorite music, going to a yoga class, or cheering on your favorite team in their next game that you’re able to stream.

If you enjoy honoring a friend’s emotional state by turning plans for a night out into a chill night in together, you can honor your own boundaries and needs by saying no. Revise plans to bring things down to the level of wherever your bandwidth is at in the moment.

If you enjoy doing a favor for someone you care about, you can ask for or accept help.

If you enjoy being an emotional support to a friend by listening, you can take a moment to pause and listen to your own emotions, being present at the moment. Ask yourself if you can label the feelings that are present? Where do you notice the emotions in your body and what are the sensations like? If the emotion had something to say, what would that be? Can you then consider what love would say or do in response?

What ways have you shown love interpersonally? Or, what ways have you witnessed interpersonal love that felt meaningful? Try seeing if you can turn that gesture into an intrapersonal act of self-love. There’s a timeless song lyric that sings, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”  Let’s add a verse: “Let there be love on earth, and let it begin with me.”

Kristin Lyon, CTRS, RYT-200