Love Yourself In Every Language: Physical Touch

It's funny how much writing this series has made me look differently at how I love myself - not just in the way of how much I love myself, but in how I get the job done. Over the course of this series, I have, obviously, talked quite a lot about self love and the importance of finding ways not only to value yourself, but to express that value to yourself in the right way.

Applying self-love to the concept of love languages takes this whole premise to a new level too, because love languages are so individual. Even with just the five basic love languages outlined by Gary Chapman, there's still an almost infinite variation between who gives love in what language, who receives love in what language, and how those language perceptions change when applied to the self rather than others.

For example: I'm a mom, and I love my kids every day through usage of all five love languages. I hug them, I build them up, I serve them, I do my best to provide for them, etc. But turning that on myself isn't always easy, especially when it comes to physical touch. I can't really hold my own hand, hug myself, give myself the reassuring pat on the back that everyone needs from time to time. I can't rub my own feet the way someone else could.

And while yes, I will acknowledge that there are certain methods of physical touch that can be quite effective when applied to self love (ahem), I will also say that for me, it's the little things that really make the difference. Even in relationships with others, it isn't big gestures that impress me; it is and has always been more about the mindless little things that might seem inconsequential to others but have major impact with me.

So how can we use physical touch to express self love - other than the obvious?

Physical touch is a huge deal for me, because I am rarely touched these days unless it's by someone who wants something from me or someone who is being paid to examine me for whatever reason. I don't get a lot of just-because touching - at least, not from others. But since physical touch is one of my strongest love languages, I've learned a lot over the years about how I can use physical touch on myself as an expression of self love. Leaving the obvious aside, here are a few of my favorite physical touch methods for expressions of self-love:
  • Massage: I know, I said I'm not that great at this, but not being great doesn't excuse me from making the effort. With my illnesses, I carry a lot of muscle pain and tension all over my body, particularly in my back, neck, and shoulders, where those muscles have to work harder to compensate for my spinal issues, and they're often overloaded with PTSD-related tension anyway. I also have various issues with blood flow and arthritis, so massaging what I can, when I can, really is a great way for me to treat myself. 
  • Showers: For being a generally low-maintenance girl, I feel like I have a pretty high-maintenance life. My kids are 9 and 14, and while my oldest is doing much better at coping with her issues in a way that allows her to be more independent, my youngest is not. She requires pretty constant supervision, otherwise nothing will get done, things will be broken, lost, or otherwise gotten into, and there will absolutely be some sort of chaos that will probably have us on the way to the local emergency room. So, all that to say this: I don't get a lot of  peaceful, quiet alone time, which means showers have become something of a haven for me. There's nothing special about a shower really, except that in the shower, I am touched in a way that requires very little and comes with no expectations. Exfoliating my skin, washing my hair, shaving my legs, scrubbing my body ... all things that engage and stimulate the sense of touch in ways that make me feel cared for - by me. 
  • Moisturizing: Honestly, I don't take as much time for this as I should, and as I'm getting older and my health is getting more complicated, it's starting to show. I keep telling myself that once the move is finished and the girls and I are settled into our new place, I'll set myself up on some kind of skin care regimen that'll include some sort of oiling/lotioning (is that even a word?) - but then I always come back at myself with some version of, "Oh yeah. Why can't you do that now? What's the holdup?" And the thing is, right now I really don't have time, space, energy, or the privacy to do that sort of thing often - which is probably part of why it became one of my most favorite ways to spoil myself with physical touch. I love coconut oil as a moisturizer because it soaks right into my skin without leaving a greasy residue behind, and my skin always feels so smooth and happy when I've taken the time to oil it. But since I've got such a hectic life, carving out the time to do this for myself really is quite a treat.
  • Sweating: It seems like a weird self-love technique especially for me, because I am the kind of girl who outright loathes the way it feels to be sweaty. But to put it more honestly, it's not the sweating that's the problem - it's the pre-sweat, full-body stickiness that sets in before a good sweat. That moment when your entire body suddenly feels like a four-year-old's unwashed jam-hands. Yuck. But once that passes and there's a full sweat going on? That can be quite a good thing, depending on what started it. For me, I have to be careful with sweat-inducing activities because I have heat intolerance severe enough to put me at increased risk of heat stroke and exhaustion - but I do still love a good sweat from a solid yoga flow, a hot bath soak, or some time spent just basking in the warmth of the sunshine (as long as it's not the kind of insane sunshine that makes me break out in hives).

So tell me, how do you use physical touch in your own self-love practice (again, aside from the obvious)? Is physical touch one of your love languages? Let me know in the comments!

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