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by Jessica Esparza

Practicing self-love and self-care this Valentine’s Day and every day

Valentine’s Day is here again. While it's fun to celebrate with your special someone, it's also a great time to celebrate love beyond romance.

As you're thinking and planning for others, take a few minutes to think about how to best care and love yourself.

"Chances are you’ve heard phrases such as, 'you can’t love anyone else until you love yourself' and 'you can’t take care of anyone else until you’ve taken care of yourself. There is truth in this," said Jessica Esparza, MS, a bilingual marriage and family therapist who is also certified in trauma care.

"There's guilt associated with putting ourselves first. This is especially true for moms. People are raised thinking that self-love is selfish.Taking care of your own needs and putting those needs first is a foreign concept.

"I had a client who is a very loving mother and felt validated with her role as a mom. She did everything for her family but neglected her needs. After a while, she wasn’t caring for her family out of joy anymore and felt resentment and anger towards them. We talked about setting aside time to do something she enjoyed doing. She initially didn't believe she had time to do that, but then learned that she could. She regained joy and was able to be more present with her family.

"Give yourself freedom to do something you enjoy and then make a plan. For example, tell everyone at 3 pm on Tuesday, I’m doing X, Y, Z. This allows others to get involved and be responsible.

"Take time to care for yourself - by doing something you love, it allows you to be fully present, kinder, patient, more willing to do things others want to do.

"Small changes can bring big effects. Self-love is a choice and one I hope you will choose on Valentine’s day and always," concluded Jessica.

Self-care tips:

  • Connect regularly with friends and family while keeping healthy boundaries
  • Do something fun and explore new hobbies
  • Get outside/nurture yourself in nature
  • Challenge negative thoughts and self-criticism
  • Regularly eat wholesome foods
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Make a change in routine

About Jessica Esparza, LMFT
"I believe that we all have the desire to be the best that we can be, as well as have healthy and stable relationships. Sometimes we get stuck because we haven't been able to overcome events that marked our lives or we experience a lack of intimacy, destructive communication patterns or are trying to pick up the pieces from an affair that shattered our relationship. Whatever the reason, therapy is a safe place where you can feel understood and accepted. Together we will explore and work on the challenges that keep you feeling stuck. My hope is that through therapy you can overcome the things that are holding you back from having healthy relationships and begin to discover your full potential."

Jessica is a bilingual therapist who started her work in counseling providing services for couples, families and women. She has also worked in community centers providing counseling to under-served communities through The Center's PACT program. It is from these experiences that her passion in working with couples and trauma grew. Jessica earned her Masters in Marriage and Family therapy and is certified as a Gottman Therapist in order to specialize more in relationship issues within couples. She is certified as an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy) therapist to help clients work through the difficulties trauma has caused in their lives.