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Why Self-Love Is a Huge Part of Self-Care & Caring For Others

Mary Luz Mejia

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Caring for others can be stressful. Practicing self-care founded in self-love will help you become the nurturer you need to be. Try these tips from a transformational life coach.

There's been a lot of talk about self-care lately – taking time to tend to your body, mind and spirit. But there isn't a lot of time given to the heart of the matter: self-love.

Toronto's Brandi Smith, a transformational health, wellness and life coach, extolls the virtue of self-love over self-care.

Why? In short, Smith explains, “If you're not filling your cup, how in the world can you fill someone else's?"

Why Self-Love and Self-Care Matter

Nurturers will know what Smith is talking about — many caregivers care for others all the time and wind up exhausted. The keep-you-up-at-night list is endless.

Smith suggests that nurturers reframe the story: If you don't have enough time for yourself, for self-care, start with kindness.

“Accepting yourself unconditionally includes how we talk to ourselves and our actions towards ourselves. It's not about thinking we're perfect because we're all perfectly imperfect. It's about loving ourselves despite any perceived imperfections and giving ourselves the space and grace to do that," says Smith.

She sums it up this way: Bestow the love and kindness you provide to others to yourselves, as you would a loved one or a child.

The Difference Between the Two

Self-care is about those things you do for yourself to cultivate a healthy body, mind, emotions and spirit.

It includes daily care, such as brushing your teeth and going to bed at the same time every night to feel refreshed in the morning, as well as enjoying a bubble bath when you need to recharge.

Did You Know? Sleep is a vital component for your health and wellbeing. Sleepers who routinely use their Sleep Number 360® smart bed technology can get 28 minutes more restful sleep per night — that's up to 170 hours per year!*

Self-love, on the other hand, is the instinct or desire to promote your own wellbeing, and filling your cup first, explains Smith.

Tackling the Mean-Girl Within

You're trucking along, trying to cultivate self-love when that inner "mean girl" with her cutting criticisms shows up, usually when you're feeling your most vulnerable. What to do?

Smith says it's best to quiet — though not totally silence — her because that inner voice is both your protector and the expression of your fears.

How to get there with self-love, according to Smith:

  • Cultivate mindfulness. Use self-compassion to encourage self-love and accept yourself as a perfectly imperfect being. Self-awareness is key when that self-critic speaks up. Smith says to pause and recognize 'I'm beating myself up with these thoughts.' Pay attention to what's happening on the inside when you feel yourself slipping into mean girl territory. “That's the time to stop and say, 'This is a difficult moment,'" says Smith. “Accept the feeling is there and make a conscious decision to sit with the negative feeling. Don't try to push it away. Feel your emotions to their deepest core to actually heal from them. If you push them away, they're always going to circle back."

  • Respond with self-kindness and concern when you make a mistake, instead of beating yourself up. How would you react to a child who's upset? Treat yourself the same way: gently. Smith says clients who do this experience less anxiety and depression, they recover better from stress, sleep better and make better choices. She stresses that EVERYONE deserves kindness and compassion.

  • Allow yourself to be human. That means you will make mistakes, and you own them. Smith says that without self-compassion, some people try to motivate themselves with shame and criticism. “Threatening yourself leads to inner rebellion and you give up. The alternative gives you hope," she adds. She also suggests using encouraging self-talk because most people only focus on whatever they did wrong. Try focusing on what you did right instead.

Be Your Own Life Coach

Smith encourages her clients to set solid personal boundaries, figuring out what they will and won't accept from themselves and others.

“We're so afraid that if we don't do everything for people, no one is going to like us," says Smith.

That way of thinking is a black hole, according to Smith. People pleasers know the result is a loss of self-esteem and an increase in stress and anxiety levels. By having boundaries, you determine what is — or isn't — for you.

“Use your gut instinct when you feel your boundaries are being crossed. That feeling of stress, guilt or fear around someone who is taking advantage of you is telling you something," says Smith.

It's often a sign you are surrounded by people she calls “energy vampires."

Nurture Self-love

No matter your age, self-love is possible and it's critical to call it back into our lives.

One of Smith's favorite tips: write a gratitude journal before going to bed. What are you grateful for today, what did you do well and what do you want to do in your life? Think of the positive and then sleep on that.

She says this helps quiet the mean girl and, hopefully, will help manifest what you want in your life along with a peaceful night's sleep!

Like diet and exercise, quality sleep has a profound impact on our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Because no two people sleep the same, Sleep Number 360® smart beds, with SleepIQ® technology, sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably and provide proven quality sleep. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night's sleep, and if you own a Sleep Number® bed, log in to your InnerCircle℠ Rewards account to see your exclusive offers, refer friends and more.

*Based on average SleepIQ® data from 8/1/21 – 2/28/22 of sleepers who engaged with their Sleep Number®setting, SleepIQ® data and FlexFit™ smart adjustable base. 


Colombian-born, Canadian raised Mary Luz Mejia is a twice nominated NATJA nominated freelance food/travel journalist, certified chocolate taster, Gemini-nominated former food TV producer and food content marketer. She has written for enRoute,, the Toronto Star, Travel+Leisure, Ensemble Vacations, The Globe and Mail, and Toronto Life to name a few. She was also the former brunch columnist for the Toronto Star’s weekly column “The Morning After” for the last year of its existence. Former Saveur Editor-In-Chief James Oseland calls her “One of Toronto’s most passionate food journalists”. And por supuesto, se habla Español!

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