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Love and Health are a Perfect Match

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Through self-love we may come to know and accept ourselves in a healthier way. Many women's magazines suggest a warm bubble bath once a week equals self-love. While this perception may leave us a bit cleaner, it does not, in itself, translate to greater health.

With National Heart Month and Valentine's Day, there are plenty of reasons to be inspired in February. However, heart healthy advice, along with Valentine hearts and kisses, will bring the most benefits to those who have a loving heart for themselves.

The concept of self-love may be simple, but it is often far from easy and it is often misunderstood. We have ingrained ideas about who we are; parents, teachers, friends, and society have greatly influenced how we see and treat ourselves. Through self-love we may come to know and accept ourselves in a healthier way. Many women's magazines suggest a warm bubble bath once a week equals self-love. While this perception may leave us a bit cleaner, it does not, in itself, translate to greater health.

Self-love is not something to cram in, time allowing, at the end of a busy day. Real self-love can happen in everything we do, all day, everyday. The decisions we make, both big and small what to eat, when to go to bed, where to work, and who to spend our lives with are determined by self-love and, in turn, affect our health. Bernie Siegel, MD, author of the classic book, Peace, Love and Healing (Harper & Row, 1989) said: "When you are acting out of love, your physiology is as good as it can ever be."

Follow Your Heart to Health

If disease begins with matters of the heart, it makes sense to consider that health and healing may begin there as well. Many of our ancient health systems, from the Ayurvedic principles of ancient India to the shamanistic practices of the Native Americans, share the common belief that physical health is a direct result of mental and emotional health. A new branch of science known as psychoneuroimmunology, the study of how the mind affects the body, is consistently finding evidence to support this theory.

A person who lacks love and respect for him- or herself may easily decide to smoke, eat too much, become inactive, or live an unfulfilling life. In my practice, clients begin talking about their diet or ailments and often end up talking about their emotions. Choosing healthier food and leaving destructive habits behind inevitably begins with taking steps to love and heal oneself.

Don't wait for the end of the day. Love yourself now. With some love and respect, the time it takes to prepare healthy food, connect with a friend, meditate, go for a walk, do things you enjoy, and, yes, take a bubble bath, is time well-spent. You need and deserve a lot of loving care. Just as small gradual steps lead to disease, simple, loving steps can lead to health.

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