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Self-love is a phrase many of us have heard of, yet, despite it having to do with the self, we might not feel very connected to it. That’s because in the fast-paced world we live in, loving ourselves takes a backseat. And with the addition of social media, which can often make us feel less than, we tend to forget about how to develop self-love.
“Self-love means accepting yourself fully and giving yourself compassion through the ups and downs of life,” says Sarah Bick, an artist and therapist who helps people through creative blockages. When you practice self-love, you give yourself respect and understanding, as well as nurture your own well-being and prioritize your needs. “It’s how you think and feel about yourself, it’s your beliefs about yourself, and how that translates into actions and behaviors,” Bick adds.
There are many ways to cultivate self-love, whether it be through meditation, daily affirmations, or even exercise and taking care of our body nutritionally. But, these wellness responses to self-love aren’t the only ways to tune in—creativity can also help you get to new levels of love for yourself.
When we tap into our creative expression, Bick says we open ourselves up to an outlet that allows us to cultivate more joy. “Starting a creative hobby—whether singing, writing, arts, or music—can cultivate self-love by not focusing on the outcome and [instead] on the enjoyment of it,” she explains.
Creativity also creates a portal for self-love by allowing us to step out of the go-go-go, hustle mindset and re-position us back to being creators, instead of the workers we so often identify with. “We are all creative—as children, we are all unstoppable artists—so reconnecting to that is often deeply cathartic,” says Bick. She explains that whether there is a wounded child inside who stopped drawing because they were told their drawing wasn’t very good or you simply need to tap back into the essence of childhood joy, getting creative as an adult can create feelings of self-love that are soothing to your adult self, and your inner child.
In general, getting creative can provide deep healing—there’s a reason Art Therapy exists—which can, in turn help connect us to a new depth of love for ourselves and the world around us. This is because “it helps us tap into the non-verbal, the subconscious, and those thoughts, beliefs, and pains just below the surface, helping to process and understand inner conflicts” says Bick. “Child therapists learn a lot through watching children draw and play because children pour themselves onto the page to make sense of their experience,” she notes, adding that this is something adults can still access and redeem great benefit from.
There are many ways to access self-love through creativity. Your creative outlet could be something visual such as a drawing class or pottery practice, or it could be something you hear and feel, such as music. With that said, there are a few creative practices that specifically help cultivate feelings of self-love.
One way to access self-love through creativity is by singing (or joining a choir or vocal class). “Singing stimulates the stress-busting Vagus Nerve with the throat vibrations, so it’s a win-win for self-care,” says Bick. She also explains that connecting to your voice—even through song—and the power therein is especially helpful for those who struggle with self-esteem, as vocal coaching can be a big confidence booster.
For a more visual creative outlet, Bick recommends creating a journal of pictures and anything else that might help you express your feelings outside of words. This journal could focus on your own journey to finding self-love, it could be focused on the things that make you feel an abundance of joy, or it could be filled with images that symbolize what you feel most connected to.
Another beautiful practice that Bick recommends is to draw a self-portrait of your inner child. Then, surround the portrait with pictures and words of what that child needs or wants to hear. This practice can feel deeply restorative and nourishing as you begin to highlight the things you love about yourself, and have loved all along.
When in doubt, Bick recommends moving your body—whether that be through dance, yoga, or going for a walk. Physical movement can help shift your energy and get you out of your head in a way that helps you shake things off and see yourself in a whole new light.
Regardless of your chosen creative outlet, tapping into the right side of the brain can deepen a connection to self and allow for an exploration of your needs and desires through the power of creativity. Whether you express creativity through physical movement or strokes of a paintbrush, all forms of creation can deepen self-love.
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