As fitness professionals, we are most likely familiar with the importance of practicing self-care in order to enhance or improve our wellbeing. We often encourage our clients to practice it as well. While self-care is extremely important for everyone, it’s critical to understand how it differs from self-love. Ultimately, to be whole, as humans we need both. Fitness professionals especially need both. First, we need to be our best selves, so we can then give back to our clients and others to help them become their best selves.
When we practice self-care, we’re likely partaking in activities that improve our personal needs in a timely fashion. That might include actions like exercising, getting a massage, taking a nap, eating healthy, socializing, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee, reading, listening to music and more. These are all really important ways to prioritize our needs, our health and our happiness at a high level. We should absolutely make the time to do these activities on a regular basis, especially if we lead busy lives which involve not only tending to our careers or volunteer work, but also taking care of others.
However, if we don’t honestly love ourselves unconditionally from the inside out, these accomplishments won’t allow us to fully feel at peace – mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. They will simply just be steps that we go through the motions of doing. Self-care, in and of itself, may provide a temporary sense of happiness and wellness in the short term, but we need to have a deep sense of self-love in order to experience true joy, happiness and contentment in our lives in the long term.
Self-love isn’t always easy to obtain and can often be dependent on or influenced by life circumstances, past events, personality traits, family dynamics and other natural tendencies. It may take years to truly feel a sense of self-love, but the more we can prioritize it and practice it, the better. This could come through regular self-reflection, journaling, practicing mindfulness, talking to family and close friends and possibly even through the help of a professional. It can also come from reminding ourselves daily of our positive traits and being empathetic towards ourselves for our negative mannerisms.
Different life situations can also test our self-love, but staying authentically true to who we are, loving and believing in ourselves, having confidence in our abilities, developing self-respect and not allowing insecurity to take over, are all ways to allow our self-love to still shine through, even in the toughest of situations. Being able to take these actions, despite difficulties in life, can test us and stretch us in ways we may not have ever imagined. Being able to do so and come out on the other side, can allow our self-love to grow within us. The end result could involve becoming resilient, which is a powerful tool, and if mastered, can really help us become strong and capable of dealing with any obstacles we may encounter throughout life.
Finally, remember we’re all human and we can often be our biggest critics. However, the more we can practice self-love each day and couple it with ongoing self-care as well, the more we can create long-lasting love, happiness, peace, strength and empowerment in our lives. We’ll also be in a position to be wonderful role models for our clients by truly walking the talk ourselves!