Self-care languages

You may have heard of the Five Love Languages. It’s a framework used to describe the way people express and perceive affection. The basic idea is that everyone perceives and expresses feelings differently, but the way we do it can be classed into five categories: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.

We all have a preferred ‘first language’. For example, someone might express their affection by doing something for their partner, such as running errands or tidying the house (acts of service). Other people might express their love verbally, telling their family how much they love and appreciate them (words of affirmation). Gary Chapman, who wrote several books on the topic, believes that for a successful relationship you need to express your feelings in the other person’s language. If your partner’s language is ‘quality time’ while yours is ‘receiving gifts’, your boxes of chocolates will mean less to them than an evening cuddled up on the sofa with a movie. It’s important to find out the other person’s language and keep it in mind. You can find out yours via the test linked to above.

But I’m not in the business of giving relationship advice! Rather, I was thinking of the love languages and how they could be applied to self-love, and to looking after yourself. I have already touched upon finding self-care techniques that work for you. What about using the Love Languages framework to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t?

For example, if your primary language is Receiving Gifts, treating yourself to a new pair of shoes might help lift your mood. If, on the other hand, you communicate mainly through Words of Affirmation, you might find a mantra more helpful.

Here are some ideas of self-care techniques for each Love Language – feel free to add your own:

Words of Affirmation: Memorise an inspirational quote. Write an empowering mantra on your bathroom mirror. Get a tattoo of a word that spurs you on. Make a note of compliments people give you, and refer back to these notes when you need to.

Acts of Service: Deal with that niggling task. Tidy your kitchen. Do some laundry. If you can afford it, hire someone to mow your lawn or mop your floors.

Receiving gifts: Buy yourself those new shoes. Get some essential oils and try aromatherapy. Or for a cheap treat, get yourself some flowers. Make yourself a card. Or just put together some found objects – a shiny pebble or a pretty feather. Practice gratitude. Bake yourself a cake.

Quality time: Watch a movie. Read a book you’ve been meaning to read. Indulge in a hobby or craft. Take a walk. Practice mindfulness. Meditate. Visit a museum.

Physical touch: Book yourself in for a massage or a spa treatment. Stroke a fuzzy blanket. Cuddle with a pet. Masturbate. Try some basic reflexology.

How do you tell yourself you care?

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