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  • Writer's pictureNora Kehoe-Clair

Learn to Love Yourself More in 2021

Tend to your self-care toolkit this year with these educational offerings

This year I’m taking self-care seriously. I plan to do that mindful meditation, make that boss playlist, buy that book and print and keyring (and that t-shirt!) that reminds me that not only can you do it, but you are doing it right now! Above all else, I’m planning on furthering my self-care education!

Self-care forms a big part of my mental health treatment. My self-care toolkit has taken all kinds of forms over the years. I have slowly replaced ill-advised tools (like finishing a bottle of white wine too quickly and bullying myself in the mirror) with a collection of web bookmarks, apps, and plain old irl remedies. At one point my kit took the form of a flower pot filled to the brim with herbal aids, a head massager, and The Little Book of Mindfulness I kept by my bedside. Now my tools are tucked all over my laptop and apartment.

Self-care sometimes takes a lavender-scented look with candles and bath bombs. But more often, I actively seek out stories that inspire gratitude and self-compassion. Stories, in their many forms (one-line, long-form, word or image), make me feel less alone when I’m climbing mountains in my mind. In 2021, I am becoming a t-shirt seller, but I also hope to tell stories that grow hope - told on a tee or by other means. I know if I’m spreading a message of love, I need to walk the talk, and that starts with learning to love myself better.

My solution: learn how to self-love

My choice to take an active role in my self-care education came about by what I like to think was a confluence of fate and circumstance. After being reminded of a favorite feminist resource, The F School, their offer of a 5-Day Confidence Bootcamp caught my eye. “That is exactly what my doctor (and therapists) ordered,” I thought as I signed up. I am so much richer for that choice! These past five days I have been hungrily consuming an alternative narrative to self-doubt and it was such a lovely story, I didn’t want it to end today. I have been left as a motivated student of self-care, and a newly anointed official F School Fan.

Why invest in your self-care education?

Education is a great tool to reframe a narrative. In a few days I have learned that I am deserving of love, space and that ever-elusive quality - self-confidence. Okay, so I’m still working on it, but I have a host of new tools, including a boss playlist and fb group of like-minded feminist learners.

I have been so happy to see a surge in optimistic and self-affirming slogans, but there is something particularly potent about structured learning with a cohort, even if it is only visible through reading their responses to the same questions. You feel proactive with a common goal, and unified by a shared problem. When it comes to learning self-love, it’s nice to know other humans feel similarly challenged behind the scenes.

I suggest you consider the time and money you invest in your mental health wisely, but never feel guilty about it. It is an investment that reaps valuable rewards, and on the flip side neglecting it can have dire consequences. I have and I am presently suffering the economic hit that comes with burnout and it is potentially debilitating. Like with any investment, I recommend researching products that you genuinely believe will help. Trust your instinct, but beware your fear, when making the choice to try something new.

Feeling A-Okay? Even better!

Tending to self-care everyday has taught me it is easier to gather your cures and sharpen your self-care skills when you’re feeling resilient. I highly recommend scheduling in self-care development when readying for the year ahead, even if you’re feeling fine and dandy. The times you’re feeling optimistic can actually be the best times to hone your coping skills and self-care rituals.

Aside from the warm and fuzzies of self-love, it breeds confidence and that’s needed in spades to launch any new project, or whole new chapter in my case. I confess I say “choose self-care this year” with an edge of urgent warning to not only readers, but to myself. But I also say it with a lot of hope - the theme of mine and maybe everyone’s 2021. We are sometimes bent, and even broken, but our capacity to grow and change is infinite when we choose to learn more.

My 2021 dream self-care syllabus

If you are like me and struggle with self-confidence, there are fantastic resources available for a more structured approach to personal development. The F School 5-day Confidence Bootcamp has motivated me to create a self-care weekly calendar and make sure I’m building my self-care knowledge base each month. Here are just a few of the courses and educators I’m eyeing off for my 2021 curriculum.

1. Further Feminist learning: The F School 5-Day Confidence Bootcamp and beyond

I am in the afterglow of this course and highly recommend you investing the time in this free offering! I have a tough time taking up space because my depression argues that I am not worthy of it. If depression had its way, my size would be pruned to the trunk. My internal self-loathing monologue is ever-present, persistent and persuasive, and it takes all my energy some days to disagree with it. But The F School armed me with tools to challenge that voice - I am worthy, we all are!

If you’re not familiar with The F School, I highly recommend subscribing here! The F School offers short courses in feminist learning, including a Facebook community with like-minded learners. They offer insightful content, interactive challenges, and an innate sense of optimism. After being a long-time admirer of their content in my inbox, I was so happy to participate in the 5-day Confidence Bootcamp, and each day brought new valuable lessons well worth the time investment.

With practical challenges, interactive content, useful resources and a bevy of responses from other students, you walk away from each day feeling challenged and changed. Hands down, the best feature for me was reading through other participants’ responses that gave valuable insight into how others were dealing with common quandaries. Participation is easily scaled to your energy levels and momentary emotional resilience. I set out to make a one page document of the daily challenges, and it turned into over a dozen pages of worthy reminders and responses for my personal reference. I suspect this won’t be my last mention of this experience. I can’t wait to see what more The F School has in store this year!

I made the choice to continue my learning with The F School by signing up to their patreon. This way I can keep up to date with courses and take full advantage of their content. I have started with becoming an official F School Fan and I’m excited about all the benefits I get for $3.00 per month - early access to all courses, free access to one course of your choice, exclusive discount codes and exclusive patron-only content. They also have great options for $7 (Insider) and $13.50 (Groupie). This group is a precious find for its focus on practical feminist learning.

2. Set the right tone: THRIVE 2021

If you are looking for a way to not only learn, but also connect with a cohort of like-minded women, this 6-week science-driven group program offers ample opportunity. With its program including 6 Zoom workshops with a maximum of 12 participants, you have the opportunity to experience the learning side-by-side with like-minded peers. This is just one of the reasons Rebecca Byers' program has gone to the top of my self-care wish list.

The THRIVE 2021 program offers a detailed description of what is included in the program as well as a glimpse into the philosophy that drives it. Byers tells her compelling personal narrative with admirable emotional vulnerability and highlights the lasting effect that positive psychology has had on her own life. What stood out to me is that the program engages you with practical exercises and the support of community. The F Schools response-sharing feature has given me a taste for learning how others are dealing with similar issues day-by-day, and I suspect that there will be much knowledge-sharing among the THRIVE 2021 class.

Three statements on the THRIVE 2021 page particularly spoke to me:

  • You want to get clear on who you are and what’s important to you

  • You feel held back by negative thoughts, doubts and worries

  • You get challenged navigating the endless stream of self-help information out there

Excuse me THRIVE 2021, can you read my mind through this screen?! I envisioned that my thirties would bring a blossoming self-acceptance. At thirty-one, in the midst of the global pandemic, I was facing a personal mental health crisis with my self-loathing levels reaching new depths. As I approach my thirty-second birthday, I’m determined to master my mind and achieve a semblance of recovery. I’m sure that many people relate to the sentiment that 2021 rises from the ashes of 2020, promising a brighter day by virtue of yesterday’s darkness. THRIVE 2021 seems like a great way to cement that optimism and actively seek those greater heights.

The program starts at the “Thrive Hive Rate” of $165.00CAD+HST with a special rate of just $149CAD +HST per person when two or more enroll (saving almost $100 each). This is perfect if your friends share your interest in positive psychology and self-care learning. There are also plenty of great resources available on the website, including a list of 36 science-based happiness practices to get you started before the program starts on January 21.

3. Delectable downloadables: Self-Care is For Everyone Printables

Connection is great, but if you are not feeling up to communal learning, there are some great options for solitary learning too. If you’re looking for a highly flexible and self-directed approach, the printables from Self-Care is For Everyone offer a very manageable option. I’ve already written the bundle into my 2021 self-care budget. There are currently 5 products covering self-care topics like setting boundaries and working from home.

The total cost of their printables is $10.00CAD, with each one being $2.00CAD. Currently, they have a healthy boundaries worksheet, self-care bingo activity, a stay-at-home coloring book, a letter-writing exercise, and a day-at-home scheduling tool. I’m looking forward to adding these to my self-care toolkit for some mindful homework.

Self-Care is For Everyone offers a great ethos of creating mental health awareness and promoting independent artists. In addition to self-care resources, they offer a wide range of products that affirm the importance of self-care. They also have a fantastic community behind them that is invested in creating mental health awareness. So many of their slogans speak to me, I’m finding it hard to choose my favorite! Special mention goes to the “Reaching Out Saves Lives” Sweatshirt that supports the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and beautifully conveys this important message.

4. A space to grow: Personal Growth Reimagined: A Journey with 8THREAD

Eventbrite is a great source for free or affordable seminars and workshops. I ran across an even more unique find in their online events recommendations this week. 8THREAD offers a personal growth learning space, and I am excited to explore the platform over the coming months.

With your free membership, you get access to 8THREAD’s digital publication, offering practical tools and inspirational techniques in addition to exclusive access to the 8THREAD shop, a curated selection of high-quality art prints and personal development products to help you on your journey. Their beautifully illustrated softcover journals are available for pre-order at $25.00.

It is obvious from the engaging site design that a lot of attention has been paid to creating a beautiful space that feels fresh, creative, and inspiring. My interest is definitely piqued with this innovative self-care initiative and I’m looking forward to seeing what I learn under 8THREAD’s tutelage.

5. Write for Wellness: Instagram Writing Workshops with Rupi Kaur

Ok, so this isn’t a course or formal educational tool per se, but finding Rupi Kaur’s writing workshops on Instagram last year improved my quality of life. You feel wisdom dropping from Kaur’s every word, and it is magical to witness her teach her skill of poetry through these soul-soothing workshops. I have missed each one of these live, and was crestfallen to learn that I missed her most recent offering a week ago!

I have this one, the third I will have completed, penciled in for this weekend and I am tickled with anticipation of another soothing self-care hour. This is surprising, given that I suffer severe writing anxiety, but the activities that Kaur proposes always manage to unlock an emotional vulnerability in me. Although they may disappear from your Instagram, I have easily managed to track them down on Youtube after losing them in her feed.

If you are looking for a piece of Rupi Kaur to own, her shop offers not only her books but also unique and thoughtful pieces (if you are fast enough to claim them). You can even imprint her work on your body with her tattoos, priced at $18.00USD. Her “to be soft” tattoo sends a powerful message of strength and beauty. Now I just need to keep my eyes peeled for her next workshop live! She even has people read out their work!

Enjoy crafting your unique self-care calendar!

Self-care is very personal and I discovered that my choices of learning resources were very emotion-based. Did I like the tone of their content, the feel of their website, and the focus of their “syllabus”? Some of the answers surprised me. I noticed I look for learning that I can scale up and down depending on my energy levels but that allows some feeling of connection to a larger community. I also like resources that mention or convey creativity, have practical applications and have a clear self-care mission. Your values and tastes will be distinct from mine, but I hope you have as much fun as I had exploring the options out there for further education!

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