When it comes to dating and relationships, you’ve probably heard of the five love languages coined by Gary Chapman in his 1992 book, The Five Love Languages. These five love languages – words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch — help us to better understand ourselves and our partners and what it takes for a person to feel loved.
However, when it comes to deep love and nourishment, too often we look to our partners and relationships when loving ourselves and thinking about our own self-care should take priority.
“Self-care is key to maintaining your well-being as a whole, mind, body, and soul,” Emily Martinez, LMSW, tells SheKnows. “Self-care gives you a chance to take your well-being into your own hands. Think of self-care as a tune-up, if you don’t tend to your needs this is usually the beginning of a decline in multiple areas in your life.
This is why practicing self-care and combining that with your love language is so important, says Martinez.
“The reason knowing your love language is important is because it gives you the knowledge to be able to communicate what is most important to meet your emotional needs. When it comes to self-care it should be something that is very personalized, self-care is not a one-size-fits-all. By identifying and understanding your love language it creates an opportunity to develop an effective unique self-care routine that fits and meets your needs.”
Below, examples on how to use your love language to practice self-care you can implement right now.
Acts of Service
If you’ve a few pesky projects lurking such as cleaning out your closet, clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Marie Manly and author of Date Smart, suggests reframing the task as a fun and loving act of self-care. “These little acts of service for yourself can surely improve your mood,” she says, adding that sometimes the biggest self-care act of service “is to give yourself full, nonjudgmental permission to do nothing at all.”
Words of Affirmation
Martinez recommends keeping a journal, using positive self-talk and telling yourself those positive affirmations.
“These are great self-care techniques that teach you to be gentle with yourself. So often we are our most harsh critique and sometimes we need to teach ourselves to be kinder which ultimately leads to better managing stress, anxiety, and depressive moods. Affirmations help us create a mindset towards self-love and acceptance.”
When it comes to indulging yourself with gifts, Dr. Manly recommends those that are nourishing and restorative, and, of course, which make you feel good. “Give yourself a calming, lusciously-scented votive candle to remind you of your inner light and beauty. Splurge on an organic, soothing essential oil such as lavender.” Other examples include gifting yourself the gift of a professional massage, manicure, or pedicure.
Is your love language quality time? Martinez’s top choices include meditating, taking yourself out on a date, and having a bubble bath with some sensory arousals.
“One of the hardest things is taking time for yourself and accepting that you are deserving of that time. Having time to reflect and unwind is essential to your well-being,” she says. “You never want to be on auto pilot. Quality time helps you be present and aware which is something we all so often discuss being mindful but many have difficulty practicing. Taking this time can be helpful in centering yourself and helping you feel renewed for what life will throw your way.”
If your love language is touch, you might assume this one is more difficult than the rest. But that’s definitely not the case. “Wrap yourself up in an anxiety-reducing weighted blanket as a self-care boost,” suggests Dr. Manly. “Enjoy a self-care shower or bath with sensory accoutrements such as a soothing body scrub or invigorating loofah sponge.” Other examples might include self-pleasure, like masturbation, or giving yourself a giant bear hug.
“During this often-challenging time, many people are experiencing ongoing exhaustion, anxiety, and stress,” says Dr. Manly. “As a result, it’s more important now than ever to consistently give yourself healthy doses of oh-so-essential self-care. The five love languages—gifts, quality time, acts of service, touch, and words of affirmation–offer a perfect guideline for simple ways to indulge in the self-care you need and deserve.”
Adds Martinez: “Overall, the better you understand what your needs are the more effective you will be at creating a self-care routine that works for you. I encourage everyone to take time to really reflect and discover what their love language is and try to use it in their own self-care routine.”
For even more self-care help, check some of our favorite mental health apps for extra TLC: