By now most of us know what love languages are, but for those who don’t: Gary Chapman introduced five “languages” of love — the way we interpret and understand it: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service.
I’ve written about love languages before, and most of my pieces have revolved around love languages in the conventional sense, which is: interpersonal.
But there’s self-love as well, and we can use our love language on that front, too.
This is one of the simplest love languages and, tbh, one of my favorite to give — because it’s so easy! It takes no planning, no money, and it, along with quality time, is one of the two that’s often mutual (even if you’re the one touching, you’re still experiencing human contact.)
Physical touch ideas:
- “Massage” and “spa days” are always obvious recommendations…
- …but I’ll also go on to add at-home purchases like: foam rollers, fascia balls, waterfall shower heads, massagers, foot spas, etc. I finally bought a fascia ball in 2018 and it was one of my best purchases of the year. I use that shit on everything.
- High-quality and/or “comfy” bedding — sheets (cotton? silk? fleece?), mattress, comforters (down?), throw blankets (weighted?)
- Clothing that actually feels nice on your body — not just “comfy,” but well-fitted and flattering and makes you feel good in your own skin
- Physical activity — swimming, yoga, jogging, weight lifting, etc.
- Stretching to combat all of our sitting (hint: bridge) and slouching (pecs.) Do it. Feels amazing.
- Strength training to combat sitting(glutes) and slouching (lats, lower traps) as well
- Hot baths. I always hated baths — I thought they were boring as hell — until I had surgery earlier this year and my surgeon recommended them, first to make things easier, but then afterwards for healing. The heat loosens tight muscles / connective tissue and promotes blood-flow; I recommend them.
- Acupressure and/or self-massage
- Skincare, hair care, manicure, pedicure, misc. product, etc.
Acts of Service
This is one of my favorites (so much so that I recently wrote a post about how much many of us get it wrong.)
As “Dominee” wrote, it essentially means:
“Get up and give yourself what you need when you need it.”
I like that. I also think of it as “taking care” of you.
Acts of Service Ideas
- Set up auto bill-pay. One of the greatest inventions of all time.
- Do it for your 401k and savings, too. Your future self thanks you.
- Hire someone to do the thing you don’t want to do — professional movers, vehicle mechanics, TaskRabbit for general “handy” things around the house, dog walkers, tax professionals, financial planners, etc. I even include professional massage therapists in this, esp. if I’m experiencing pain.
- Have things delivered — anything from food to cleaning products (à la Amazon Prime) — to save yourself trips and running around
- Cook for yourself. I don’t cook. Like, ever. But in one of the darkest times of my life (I quit a job and lost a sibling in the same month), I got in the habit of sautéeing kale every single day. I would dutifully buy a huge bulk amount a few times a week, then carefully select and wash the individual stalks, feeling the coarse, curly edges in my fingertips, and then quietly hand-tear them into bite-size pieces, dropping them into a little pool of olive oil before drizzling them in balsamic vinegar. It was a ridiculously simple dish, but the little ritual was very therapeutic. It’s still one of my go-tos.
- Clean. Man, there’s little as satisfying as cleaning your living space and then enjoying it afterwards.
- Clean out your junk drawer (or any other piles of “stuff” you’re harboring) and throw that shit away! I find this more relaxing than baths.
- Donate or toss anything that doesn’t bring you joy
- Make your bed in the morning. It’s a gift to future you (you’re welcome, you.) I can be otherwise kind of messy, but I make my bed every morning and swear by it. There’s nothing relaxing about getting into a messy bed from the night before. Ew.
- Write stuff down so you don’t forget. (Again: you’re welcome, future you.)
- Meal prep, if you’re into that.
- Sign up for TSA pre-check.
- Make that doctor’s or dentist appointment you’re avoiding.
- Drink a whole entire glass of water before going to bed when you come home a little more drunk than you’d planned
- Actually, drink more water in general. (And maybe less booze.)
- Invest in things that make your life easier
I’ll be honest, “gifts” has never been my thing to receive, and the idea of showing myself love with gifts has never resonated — even by way of celebration.
But some folks find self-gifting very motivating — e.g., using them to mark weight-loss milestones — and if you’re one of these, more power to you.
- Joyce Marter recommends: “buy only what you love.” I like that.
- Buy things that go with your interests — pans if you cook, pens if you write, pajamas if you lounge, etc.
- Craft or hobby supplies (?)
- Buy the “everyday, affordable indulgences” that matter to you most: the “good” coffee, the “good” chocolate, the “good” bread at the store
- Take trips
- Buy yourself souvenirs when you take those trips
- “Indulgences”? (Hopefully this means something for you)
- From everything I found online, most advice suggests “invest in yourself!” If that resonates with you, have at it.
Words of Affirmation
This is another one that doesn’t do a ton for me personally — I almost never “get” the point of focused self-affirmation (in fact I argue it can sometimes hold us back), but if this resonates with you, who am I to stop you.
As the everygirl wrote,
“People who identify with Words of Affirmation are the people who love hearing compliments and knowing what they’re doing is right and effective in a relationship. The same goes with your relationship with yourself! Encouraging yourself through words helps you feel appreciated and loved — and it doesn’t even cost a dime. If journaling affirmations every morning keeps you going, this is probably for you.”
As blogger “Dominee” wrote,
“When you deal with anxiety and depression as much as I do, sometimes building yourself with a hearty ‘You can do this!’ or ‘It’s going to be okay.’ are the only things that help you get through the day.”
Words of Affirmation Ideas:
- Write down your favorite character traits, strengths, accomplishments
- Write down compliments others share about you. It’s so easy to drop a compliment on the ground after it’s been handed to us, like a gum wrapper. Document them all in one place so you can come back to it.
- Daily mantras and self-affirmations
- Write “love letters” to yourself or journal
- More positive self-talk; less inner criticism
This is one of my love-languages, and I have absolutely zero issue showing myself “love” in this way. If I’m dying to try a new restaurant or get a drink or see a movie or, hell, even go on an international trip, I’ll take my own self on out there.
As “Dominee” wrote,
“Give yourself space and time to be… Make time for solitude — for getting to know yourself and getting to like yourself. For being present in your life.”
Heck yeah, girl. That’s my jam.
Quality Time Ideas:
- Protect your time. “Do not over-schedule, over-book or over-commit. Your life is worth more than being a gerbil on a wheel.” –Joyce Marter
- Carve out uninterrupted time to indulge in your interests, passions, hobbies or past-times
- Take yourself out to do whatever you want — dinner, movie, brunch, lunch, cocktails, a whole damn solo vacation. I once flew to Iceland on a whim in the dead of December just because it interested me. 10/10 would do it again.
- Write. (What better way to “listen” and let yourself feel “heard?”)
- Meditate. It will bring you back to the present and give you a sense of groundedness. I finally “got” meditation early last year after flailing with it for years, and the benefits are… immense.
- Do something on your bucket list.
- Buy yourself time by paying for services, etc. that free you up
In short: You don’t need permission.
In fact, you don’t need permission for any of this. It’s all yours to give — and receive.