Dating and Relationship Advice

When you know your love language, it is easier to ask for what you need in any relationship — whether it's romantic, platonic, or even with yourself. That last one might seem surprising, but it is true: understanding your own love language can revolutionize how you practice self-care.

Don’t get me wrong: I love a face mask and a glass of wine as much as the next person. But prioritizing activities and habits that cater to my love language has allowed my self-care to become more empowering and energizing.

If you do not already know your love language, there are plenty of online quizzes that will answer that question for you. Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages series, has several tests available on his website.

Once you know your love language, you can take a quick look at some of the best ways for you to care for yourself.

Words of Affirmation

Whether it is a thoughtful note, a pep-talk, or an off-the cuff declaration of love, using words of affirmation to express love helps a person feel understood and appreciated.

But how do you turn it into self-care?

Keep a folder — either digital or physical — and fill it with notes from people who love and appreciate you. Compliments do not have to be brand new to feel good. Thoughtful birthday cards, emails from happy clients, thank you notes — anything that makes you feel seen has a place in this folder. Whenever you need a little pick-me-up, treat yourself to a walk through your past and remember what the people who you love, love about you.

Journaling is also a great option. Write about things you are thankful for, things you are proud of, and recent memories that make you feel good.

Working on puzzles or coloring books filled with inspirational quotes also works – just make sure that the messaging resonates with you. Find a message that reflects something you already like about yourself or an area you want to improve upon.

Quality Time

Whether it is a weekend at a music festival, an intense conversation, or quietly sharing space, using quality time to express love strengthens feelings of companionship and connection.

But how do you make it self-care?

Pick up a hobby, or give yourself permission to revisit old hobbies. It can be as simple as baking your favorite cookies or as intense as carpentry. Especially since so many of us work in front of a computer, working with your hands can feel like a meaningful change of pace.

Get outside. Go for a walk, lay in the sun, go for a swim, or take a mini road trip to a State or National Park. Spending time outside will help you slow down, relax, and take a step away from your day-to-day stressors.

Quality time, more than any of the other love languages, heavily depends on your interests. Chances are that you know what activities give you the biggest, healthiest buzz. Call your mom, write a letter, garden, join a basketball team. Find ways to fill your time with activities that make you feel good.

Physical Touch

Whether it is cuddling during a favorite TV show, hugging at the end of a long day, or having steaming hot sex, using physical touch to express love makes a person feel cared for and grounded.

But how do you make it self-care?

Physical touch obviously contains sexual elements, but there are plenty of other kinds of touch you can explore. Try on every piece of clothing in your closet and focus on how each fabric feels against your skin, take a bike ride and focus on the sensation of wind and sweat, go to a concert and feel the bass line reverberating through your body.

There are plenty of things you can do at home, like giving yourself a foot massage, braiding your hair, or masturbating. You can also pay for services like massages, pedicures, and blow-outs. You might even want to consider taking a dance or martial arts class. There are so many ways to experience self-love through physical touch and the journey to figuring out which ones make you feel the best is at least half of the fun.

Acts of Service

Whether it is doing someone a favor, taking care of the chore you know your partner hates, or helping clean up at the end of a party, using acts of service to express love makes a person feel appreciated and pampered.

But how do you make it self-care?

Take care of your future self. Make sure that you leave your house clean before you go on a trip, so your future self can come home to a stress-free environment. Pack your backpack before you go to bed so your future self won’t have to worry if they forgot something when they rush out the door in the morning. Meal prep so your Friday self can eat well even though they are exhausted.

If you have the budget for it: hire out chores that you hate. Not everyone has the resources for this one, but if shoveling your own sidewalk or doing your own laundry fills you with an awful sense of dread, there is nothing wrong with permanently taking that chore off your to-do list.

And of course, volunteer. Sometimes the best way to engage with your love language is to use it to speak to others. Find a cause that you believe in and dedicate some time to serving others.

Receiving Gifts

Whether it is a seashell from a beach, a tasty treat from an errand run, or a thoughtful birthday gift, using gifts to express love makes a person feel seen and sentimental.

But how do you make it self-care?

Find opportunities to give little gifts to people. Bring accessories — like colorful clip-in extensions or tiny hats — to parties. Pick your favorite quirky holidays and celebrate by giving your friends or co-workers little gifts, like chocolate coins on Talk Like a Pirate Day or specialty teas for Mad Hatter Day.

Gifts to yourself should be a special treat, not an everyday occurrence. Set a budget or decide how many gifts you want to buy yourself each month. When you limit your spending you are more likely to remember why and when you purchased each item, which will make your possessions feel more special.

Find something that you want to collect and think of a special way to display it. Build an altar for your crystals, thrift antique shelves for your books, buy a fancy binder for your baseball cards, or make macramé hangers for your houseplants. Gifts to yourself should provide more than just the rush of the initial purchase.

This list is just the beginning. Spend some time really getting to know yourself through the lens of your love language. With a little introspection and some trial and error, you will be able to find all kinds of creative ways to indulge in self-care that is specifically catered to you.