We have so many people around us who rely on us. Whether it's your friends, your lover, your family, or nieces and nephews. But what about you? 

In the midst of taking care of everyone else, we often forget that we need to take care of ourselves too, and we take that fact for granted by putting ourselves last on the list. The importance of mental health is often overlooked, but it's crucial that we look after our mental, physical, and emotional states in expressions of self-love and self-care. 

Deborah Khoshaba writes in an article that self-love is an action and not a state of feeling good. She says "self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth."  

Psychologist, Kimberly Rogers*, says that the reason why people don't know how to practice self-love is often because they don't value themselves. They give all their resources (money, time, love, support, etc.) to everybody else and leave very little left for themselves.

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She says "self-preservation is vital." When we don't take care of ourselves we may become dormant, and put up with being treated badly because we suspect that others don't love us just as we don't love ourselves. 

[Self love] means knowing I deserve good things and consciously working towards getting those good things through the decisions I make. Self love means recognizing when my decisions are harmful to me and loving myself enough to change those bad behaviours and patterns. Self love means living deliberately. Have I clocked self love yet? Absolutely not.
Nompumelelo
Self love means genuine happiness, and being content with who you are as a person and not needing validation from other people. I practice self love by taking care of my health, doing manicures and pedicures once in a while; reading, loving and laughing - it doesn't take much.
Nomusa
Self love means accepting myself for who I am, flaws and all. The very same way I love others, flaws and all. I regularly hype myself up and compliments myself on the regular.
Kgaogelo

Just as much as you invest your time, love, care, and support in others, you need to invest the same in yourself. Self-love does not necessarily equate isolation or taking loads of selfies to caption accordingly. It is understanding that you cannot expect your fulfillment to constantly come from others or from external factors and that you need to generate from within a healthy sense of self-appreciation, and nurture it through your own actions. 

Kimberly advises that you need to consider what you give and how much you equally replenish yourself. These are some of the ways that you can practice self-love:

  • Do things you enjoy - without feeling like you need to earn them. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that nice things have terms and conditions attached to them, but you need to learn that you deserve to enjoy your life, from the simplest pleasures to the most generous acts of kindness and love.
  • Understand your love language and adhere to it. If you don't understand how you like to be loved and what makes you happy, then how can you expect someone else to know? If you like affirmations then affirm things to yourself and stay away from negative self-talk. If you like gifts, then buy the things you like. 
  • Make yourself a priority. Many of us are taught that putting yourself first is selfish, especially when you have people who rely on you to support them and tend to their needs. But the more you learn to love and protect yourself first, as Rachel Yahne writes, the more of your love and care you will have to give from. 

Here's a quiz for you to find out how well you practice self-love:

*Name has been changed.

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