PopSugar had an event that included speakers, diverse brands and encouraging activities to promote fitness, health, beauty and self-care. Walking in, chatter, laughter and music surrounded me. 305fitness lit up the floor with upbeat dance routines. Smiles on their faces, they invited event guests to participate while shouting “you can’t live your life through your phone!” I soaked up business and self-love advice from Huda Kattan, beauty blogger, expert beauty advisor and owner of the brand “Huda Beauty”. I also enjoyed soulful laughs with Tiffany Haddish and Amanda Seales. Next was author and international media mogul, Arianna Huffington. Arianna started the Huffington Post and later, Thrive Global, a start-up company that is dedicated to health and wellness. I had first heard Arianna Huffington speak on Oprah’s podcast “Super Soul Sunday” months back and was intrigued by her story.

Arianna worked to the point of exhaustion until she fell because of fatigue and burnout, breaking her cheekbone and occurring a gash over her eye. Since then, she made it a mission to raise awareness on what “unplugging” really was and the importance of wellness and health. The podcast inspired me to sit down and have a talk with myself about self-love (a talk I avoided for about ten years). Little did I know, this was just a small hint from the universe that Arianna Huffington wasn’t done influencing me just yet. Months later, I was at PopSugar listening to her speak.

Arianna Huffington spoke about the willingness to push past fear and to leap towards new opportunities in life, sometimes without knowing what was going to happen. It hit home for me. I got chills when she said

“Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a stepping stone to success. Taking risks and failing along the way is all part of the journey.”

This resonated with me because I too, was on a journey to raise awareness, but had a hard time starting because of the fear of failure. I wanted to inspire others to love themselves. To help other’s recognize how important “me-time” really was. I pushed past fear by planning my first ever “Love Yourself” event that would share tips on how to embrace “me-time”, how to push past personal struggles and negative self-talk.

Since the age of seventeen I lived in a mental state that I called “survival mode” (the mode where you are constantly moving, working and never stopping for reflection or a break). Being on my own from an early age, I never had any idea of what self-love and un-plugging really meant. I worked three jobs, went to school at night, would barely sleep and up until the age of twenty six (I am twenty eight now)

I thought being “burnt-out” was normal.

I thought working out and making it to my next job on time while being sleep deprived and barely functioning was just a part of life. It was only when I began having massive panic attacks, depression, insomnia, blackouts, anxiety and an increase in emotional eating was when I realized that something had to change. My outlook on wellness and health had to change. I had to love myself more.

I started exploring what “me-time” really was and I was petrified. Where would I begin?

I wrote a list of things I wanted to do. I started small.

· Get coffee and sit by the water (phone off)

· Journaling (phone off)

· Take a yoga class (phone off)

· Do a face-mask (phone off)

· Take a walk (phone off)

I laughed at the list at first because I thought “well I can do this without a problem!”

PROBLEM: As I tried to cross off what seemed like super minimal things I could do in my life, I realized I couldn’t even allow myself to get to them. I began to attack myself with doubt, choosing to work till exhaustion than doing something that was actually good for me. My ego, pride and longtime best friend “Ms. Burnout” wouldn’t let me skip an extra hour of overtime for a yoga class. My mind ran all over the place when I “tried” to go for a walk with my phone off. Thoughts like “you can be doing something more valuable with your time”, “someone probably called you”, “check you’re Instagram” and “remember to pay that bill” came knocking.

I wrote down all of these negative thoughts. I read them out loud and was shocked. I realized that Arianna Huffington was right.

That voice inside our heads, we must learn to shut it off and not listen to it.

I began to understand that when I tried to do something that would help me relax and regroup, that voice tried to talk me out of it.

I wouldn’t allow myself to “unplug” because I was so conditioned to always being on the move for my job, my social media or something other than my wellness. This was a problem. Not just for me but for others too.

I struggled with forming new healthier routines and patterns. Prioritizing my health, emotional and mental wellness was absolutely difficult at first.

Months later, I was sitting in front of non-other than Arianna Huffington. Each word she said stuck to my soul. As if everything I was trying to do the last few months was now, justified. It was as if she knew exactly what I had been going through with trying to connect with myself. “There are many parts unknown inside ourselves” she said.

“We need to find time to reconnect with ourselves” she continued. “It has never been easier to run away from ourselves.”

We are so consumed by social media, notifications, counting hours at work and money that we forget that it is not the most important thing, our wellness is. Arianna went on to say that success wasn’t just money and power, that our well-being, our wisdom, our sense of wonder and giving was important.

My well-being was what gave me optimal wholeness. Arianna Huffington was right. When we take care of ourselves we are actually better at everything we do.

“Taking time to reconnect with ourselves, our loved ones and what matters is key to a fulfilling life”.

Going home, Arianna’s speech floated around in my head. It was a push for me and supported everything that I was trying to do in terms of influencing others to love themselves more. The rest of the evening I turned off my phone. Away from my phone, I had time to really focus on folding my laundry instead of dropping socks all over the place while scrolling through my Instagram feed. Reading was easier for me because I didn’t hear my phone vibrating and ringing every ten minutes. I even remembered more of what I read. I was able to write and plan out everything I needed to with less “brain fog”. I was able to fall asleep on my own instead of taking my melatonin, I slept through the night (I usually toss and turn most nights).

I also followed her tips on a morning routine

· Wait a few minutes before reaching for your phone.

· Get up and just breathe

· Take some time to be grateful

Some of my personal tips on starting your “Me-Time/Self-Love” journey

· Take yourself on dates

· Meditate

· Set times every day for self-reflection

· Do something you love atleast twice a week (yoga, dance, write, go for walks)

· Listen to an encouraging podcast

· Go for a 25 minute walk when you feel depressed/anxious

Truth is, we are all responsible for our wellness and we MUST take it seriously. We need to take advantage of the advice many influencers like Arianna Huffington give because the world is constantly changing and at times, we may get lost in the shuffle. Finding happiness and peace comes from so many roots within ourselves but it all starts with caring enough to reconnect with ourselves and take that slight step to feel and do better. Self-love is a never ending journey but it is uplifting, powerful and life changing. Love yourself.  


  • Dasha Ilazarova


    Just a regular human working to inspire others to take care of themselves. Her philosophy is that you don’t have to be perfect, live the perfect life or be “happy” every day to find growth. Growth is found within the days that are hard too. Learning to move forward from her personal hardships, Dasha has been making it a mission to help and inspire others to accept themselves so that they can grow with confidence while focusing on emotional, physical and spiritual wellness.