This article is part of a series called ‘Don’t Believe The Narrative’ – we’re rewriting the script for the over thirties; turning the spotlight on those who CHOOSE a different path; celebrating the adventurers and won’t settle-downers. Because this life stage doesn’t have to be all about babies, weddings and work promotions, just because the script says it should. You write your script, you choose your best moments – from epic travel tales to dinners with travel BFFs. Share them with us on Instagram using #DontBelieveTheNarrative.
With Singles’ Day and Black Friday almost upon us, is there any better occasion to celebrate the joys of self-love?
We can officially conclude it’s that time of year when splurging on treats for ourselves (and others) will become the norm.
And whilst ‘tis the season’ we can indulge shamelessly, these occasions point to something deeper than simply consumerism: the energising power of self-compassion.
We live in an age of endless dating apps and relationship updates, with everyone telling us our lives are incomplete until we’ve found ‘The One’ – which, for many people, is untrue.
So make yourself the one who really matters and embrace self-love with these simple tips:
Combat the negativity bias
As human beings, we have a tendency to lend greater weight to the negative than the positive – five compliments can be worth one insult.
Research suggests this is because we have an inbuilt negativity bias, which allowed our ancestors to identify dangers in the wilderness.
Whilst this would have been useful against external predators, the threats of modern society now live within our minds; the energy generated to fend off sabre tooth tigers is instead absorbed internally, creating a cycle of negative thoughts.
With that said, the first step towards combating the negativity bias is identifying it. Once we recognise what our brains are doing, we can take active steps towards redressing the imbalance.
Acknowledging this fact allows us to recognise our shared humanity: our tiny flaws are symptomatic of the human condition.
Hara Estroff Marano writes in Psychology Today, ‘it is the frequency of small positive acts that matter most. It takes frequent small surprises to tip the scales towards happiness.’
Treat yourself to small surprises as you would treat a friend. Whether it’s splashing out on a new pair of shoes or kicking back with a bottle of Burgundy, treating yourself materially adds a boost of energy to your daily life.
As Uma Campbell writes in Goalcast, ‘doing something nice for yourself hits the internal ‘reset’ button and motivates you to keep up the hard work.’
Instead of berating yourself endlessly over occasional failings, indulge in a little self-love to celebrate your frequent victories.
Plan your day in a meaningful way
That said, treating yourself doesn’t have to be material – it could simply be a case of putting aside some ‘you time’ for a dose of self-love.
Planning and working through a list of achievable goals for the week can be transformative to your daily routines. It not only boosts efficiency and prepares you mentally for upcoming obstacles, but resets the rhythm of the week and creates space for the little things that count.
Whether that’s going for a run, visiting the Prosecco Hills in Venice (above) for the weekend or taking a hike in the mountains, working through your goals strategically allows you to reclaim your time for moments big and small.
Being single is a gift – it allows you to do the things you really want to do, whenever and wherever.
Indulge your palate
Eating well is vital to our health and wellbeing, yet it sometimes takes a back seat to our long working hours.
For something so simple, a nourishing meal never fails to give us an instant energy boost; there are few things as cheerfully indulgent as a hearty spread.
Forming a pattern of regular mealtimes creates a sense of structure: ‘mealtimes offer people the opportunity to stop, to stand still psychologically, to reflect on their day and days ahead, and to listen and interact with others,’ says the Mental Health Foundation.
Put aside an evening each week to cook up a feast, or catch up with friends over a meal at a restaurant. These small rituals ground you in the present moment, breaking up the pattern of negative thoughts and giving you a regular chance to unwind.
Mix things up
Forging new experiences plunges our brain into what psychologists name the ‘liminal space’ – the spaces between. We enter the liminal space when our usual patterns of behaviour are disrupted or when we suffer a dramatic change in circumstances such as a death or a loss of job.
Yet we can harness the power of the liminal space to make way for major creative breakthroughs. Uprooting the old patterns of behaviour paves the way for real change to unfold – but we don’t have to wait until something dramatic happens.
We can manifest major changes by simply introducing small adjustments to our daily lives, such as learning a skill or visiting a new country.
‘Learning helps us build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy… As human beings, we have a natural desire to learn and progress,’ says psychology expert Vanessa King.
Whether you fancy an impromptu trip to South Africa or turning your hand to pottery, treating yourself to an activity plunges you into the liminal space, allowing you to break the mould and reshape it accordingly.
You can subtly transform your life and rewrite your own narrative by living curiously, embracing the liminal space and exploring the world with an open mind. It’s one of the best forms of self-love out there.
Reconnect with nature
There’s something uniquely refreshing about the natural world; there’s nothing quite like the company of rivers and trees to put things back into perspective.
Whilst this is something we all know instinctively, there is now ample scientific evidence confirming that nature is fundamental to human wellbeing.
Psychology academic Dr Miles Richardson states, ‘feeling a part of nature has been shown to significantly correlate with life satisfaction, vitality, meaningfulness, happiness, mindfulness and lower anxiety.’
Nature works its magic by grounding you in the present moment, releasing you from your anxieties and bringing you into a state of mindfulness.
As business psychologist Douglas LaBier writes in Psychology Today, ‘You’re observing the flow of your mental and emotional activity; but not being pulled into it. That conscious “now” allows for greater inner calm, clearer judgement, and it enables more focused, creative responses to everyday life.’
Treat yourself to a weekend in the wilderness for some deep relaxation and self-love.
Why we all need to practise self-love
Whilst we generally agree on the importance of being kind to others, being kind to ourselves is strikingly absent from mainstream cultural beliefs.
Given the way human brains are hardwired, our greatest enemies and harshest critics are often ourselves. We often undermine our own sense of self-worth; even the most compassionate people treat themselves harsher than they would ever imagine treating anyone else.
Absorbed in the details of our smallest failings, we often lose sight our shared humanity, forgetting how common and familiar our problems truly are.
Recognising the tendency towards negativity and taking the first step towards self-love is a bold move against the grain that takes courage and resolve – it’s not a sign of weakness. Through practising mindfulness and self-compassion in daily life, we can all learn to be a good friend to ourselves.
As Yale academic Emma Seppala writes, ‘self-compassion is the root of learning, empowerment and inner strength.’ Being kind and understanding to ourselves makes us all stronger.
So, with Singles’ Day coming up, let’s all empower ourselves with a good dose of self-love.
Treat yourself to these 3 gorgeous getaways:
Dive into an aquatic oasis of coral reef, snorkel around a WW2 shipwreck and absorb the landscape of this island paradise from the peak of a live volcano.
Breathtaking Belize & Guatemala
Ascend an ancient Mayan temple surrounded by thickets of jungle, journey deep into a system of intricate caves, and surrender yourself to the vast calm of Lake Atitlan.
Fall under the spell of this mysterious land, weaving between gilded temples and enchanting lakes.
Images: Shutterstock, Unsplash, Flash Pack