My dear mentor Sara describes herself as a relationship anarchist, where no rules apply, where you do you, fiercely. But this takes courage right? As you look in the mirror – how would you describe your relationship with yourself? A huge aspect of resilience is the acceptance and love of ourselves for who we really are.
“Self love is accepting, allowing, honouring and having compassion for all aspects of ourselves. This includes the critical, deficient and wounded parts” – The Way of the Five Seasons, John Kirkwood.
By tuning in to our inner world, creating an awareness of our thoughts and feelings we can start to recognise when we may need to ramp up self love and self care – in the moment. Self love doesn’t need to be a huge time or financial commitment, it could be as simple as really listening to and owning a kind comment that floats your way.
As we head into the peak summertime, it is the perfect time to cultivate the Fire element within ourselves. The Fire element relates to love, joy and compassion – not just externally, but cultivating a strong sense of joy from within. This in turn boosts our resilience to any external situations that may be challenging.
Dr Sven Hansen from The Resilience Institute talks about the ability to bounce (forward) from adversity as a key marker of resilience. His simple suggestions to help you bounce are in themselves acts of self love.
It’s not all about sleep, eating well and exercising – growing into our potential through study, music, art and meditation are acts of self love as we are honouring and respecting ourselves as uniquely talented individuals.
What is your unique love language? How do you show love, kindness and respect to yourself? What makes you laugh, what do you do for fun?
In TCM five element theory, you can bring balance to your life through alignment with the elements. Here are some suggestions of ways to cultivate self love this summer, aligning with the Fire element.
Food as medicine
Red is the colour of the Fire element, a lot of red fruits and vegetables are in abundance in summer. Red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, red peppers, red carrots and watermelon contain lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant that has been credited with reducing cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and in men infertility and prostate cancer.*
The flavour of the Fire element is bitter, bitter foods can help control the Fire element when it’s in excess. Think dandelion greens, citrus peel and unsweetened cocoa.
Get your heart pumping
Any exercise that will get your heart pumping for 20-30 minutes will do wonders for your heart – like fast walking, skipping, cycling. Anything that you love doing that also gets your heart rate up will do the trick.
Be a kid again
Kids don’t care about schedules or responsibilities, they care about having fun! Be childlike in your pursuit of fun this summer – make it a priority to do at least one thing you’ve always wanted to, but haven’t had time to. Enjoy the time to laugh with your friends – you’ll be doing your heart a favour as you let go of stress, increase blood flow and dilate your blood vessels.
The next time someone compliments you, own it – rather than brushing it off and forgetting about it, write it down to reflect on later. Take yourself out on a date somewhere you love, doing something you love to do. Send a love letter to yourself via real old fashioned mail. Or try one if these awesome radical self love ideas.
*The Way of the Five Seasons, John Kirkwood
About the author: Emily Drysdale is a recovering stress addict, and the only Certified Advanced Holden Qigong teacher in Christchurch, New Zealand. Emily loves teaching Qigong and Tao Yin Yoga classes weekly in Christchurch. Connect with Emily.