Whether you’re single or in a relationship, Valentine’s Day can be a tumultuous time. If you’re not in a relationship, you may feel suffocated by all of the red roses and heart-shaped chocolates around you, alienated because the holiday reminds you of what may be missing in your life. If you’re in a relationship, Valentine’s often prompts comparing your own relationship to others’ – setting high expectations and feeling inadequate when you don’t meet them.
Regardless of your relationship status on February 14th, you should commit to focusing on practicing self-love first. If you use this holiday to celebrate what makes you unique, beautiful and important, you’ll feel refreshed, and you’ll eventually be able to give more in your relationships with others as well.
Even if you recognize its value, practicing self-love can be difficult. Here are a few simple things you can do to put yourself first:
Read Derek Walcott’s “Love After Love” and dedicate it as your love poem to yourself.
Love After Love
By Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Schedule time to yourself.
If you have a hectic schedule, you may feel guilty taking time to relax in a bath, binge on some Netflix or take a walk without responding to your email. If you intentionally schedule “me time” in your agenda, it will be easier to follow through on your self-care goals, no matter how many other items are on your to-do list.
Seek inspiration in the words of others.
“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise L. Hay
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha
Write an original love letter to yourself.
Take five minutes to write down a list of all the things that you like about yourself or that you think others admire about you. Tape the list to your mirror, and reference it whenever you start to feel self conscious. Create a quote journal of affirmations and inspiration.
Identify some of the negative, self-doubtful thoughts that frequently go through your head and write down some affirmative mantras to keep in mind when you need to counter that negativity and doubt. My favorite examples are “I am enough,” and “I am the best me.”
Regardless of how you decide to practice some Valentine’s Day self love or self-care, it’s important to create a routine that works for you individually and to practice that routine frequently. In the words of Audre Lorde, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Go buy yourself flowers and write yourself love letters – you deserve it.