Maybe you’re single (and don’t want to be), or for some reason you’re unable to spend the day with your significant other. Either way, the emotions surrounding Valentine’s Day aren’t usually good ones if this is the case.
All of the advertising and build-up around Valentine’s Day can make it even worse. A million constant reminders you didn’t ask for about giving and receiving love to or from another person. If only you could bury your head in the sand until it’s over!
Consider this instead: use this Cupid-filled holiday to learn how to love yourself.
Focusing on yourself for an entire day might be an uncomfortable concept for some. To make it easier to digest, we’ve done some of the legwork and made a list of some ways to consider spending the day:
Do something out of the ordinary.
For some people, simply taking a day to focus on yourself is completely out of the ordinary. That’s ok! Just try not to feel guilty about it. However, if you need a reason to love yourself, think of it as a way to ensure you can better care for others.
According to Dr. Geoffrey Arnold, making sure we value ourselves and our own “Me Time” allows us to be in a better position to care for and be of service to others (1).
Is it out of the ordinary for you to relax and watch Netflix? Give it a try! Take the day (or even half the day) to binge watch the last season of Game of Thrones you never got around to.
You could also try a new pastime or hobby you’ve been thinking about. Maybe experiment with cooking or baking, and share the delicious results with friends or coworkers. Or take the time to visit the aquarium or a museum you’ve never been to.
The important thing to remember is to do something for you!
If you love yourself, Exercise
Improving your health is a perfect way to demonstrate a commitment to yourself and your well-being. The benefits of exercise on an individual’s overall health are countless. One of the most important benefits is the improvement of self-image and self esteem.
Did you perhaps make a New Year’s resolution to get in better shape? Hopefully you haven’t fallen off the bandwagon – but if you have, reignite your goals on February 14th. It’s still only the second month of the year!
If you’ve been good about staying active and would like to continue your healthy lifestyle, refer back to item number 1: try something new! Take a group fitness class or a new outdoor activity. Maybe join a basketball or volleyball club in your area and make some new friends along the way.
Prepare healthy foods
Along with exercise, healthy eating is one of the best steps you can take towards getting and staying healthy. You could try a recipe you’ve been eyeing from a healthy food blog. If you have trouble staying on track through the work week, give meal prep a try!
The idea behind meal prepping is to prepare the majority of your meals for the week on one day. Individuals who practice meal prep eat healthier, spend less money on food and snacks, and report better success with weight loss than those that don’t.
To help you get started, you can do a quick Google or Pinterest search. A good introduction to meal prep can be found here.
Now, this does not mean you shouldn’t treat yourself. Order in your favorite meal or get a pint of your favorite ice cream – and enjoy them while you prepare for a healthy week ahead.
Be emotionally honest
This one could be tough. If you’re used to staying busy to avoid processing anything that could bring emotional discomfort, then you may not know where to start. That’s ok – this is part of learning to love yourself, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Look into meditation, journaling, or even scheduling a visit with a counselor – even if you don’t need one. In fact, the best therapists get counseling from others. This is another example of “you can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself”.
There are several ways to get in touch with yourself and your emotions. Which brings us to #5:
Work on personal and spiritual development
How many inspirational videos or articles do you have saved on Facebook? Your friend shared a video with the comment “Powerful – a must watch!”. So you saved it for later, and promptly forgot about it.
For some of us, finding the time for personal development can be hard or nearly impossible to do. If you don’t make it a priority, it won’t happen. Make Valentine’s Day the first day of your journey to a better and more spiritual you.
The health benefits of well-rounded personal and/or spiritual development are well documented. Individuals that feel comfortable with their path of personal or spiritual development report feeling better able to cope with life stressors, complain less, and have an overall better quality of life.
What better gift to give yourself than a dedicated day to improve on YOU?
Better yet, don’t stop at one day: make scheduled self-improvement a regular occurrence. Carve out a couple of hours through the week, or one dedicated self-improvement day a month.
For some reason, there seems to be a stigma attached to dining out alone or going to a movie by yourself. But, why? Participating in these activities alone is not a sign of loneliness or weakness – it shows you have inner strength and are comfortable enough to spend time with a super important person (YOU).
If you want to go to your favorite restaurant on Valentine’s Day – make yourself a reservation! The wait staff may even treat you extra special if you’re stag.
If the restaurant is booked up, maybe try the day before or after (and save yourself from artificially marked-up pricing!). There is no reason to deprive yourself because you don’t have a traditional date.
Treat yourself how you’d like to be treated on Valentine’s Day. For more ideas, try this list of self-loving date ideas.
Are you beating yourself up for not having a date on Valentine’s Day? Are you holding a grudge against yourself?
Learning how to forgive and practicing forgiveness is arguably the most important part of any relationship – and this includes your relationship with yourself. Time to start forgiving – and figure out how to love yourself.
It’s ok if you’re not exactly where you want to be right now. Cut yourself some slack, and move forward.
Watch this Tedx Talks video of Caira Lee explaining the power of absolute, radical self love to get you started.
Get a massage
If you walk out of the massage parlor feeling like a new person, there is no reason not to schedule one regularly. Massages benefit both your mental and physical health, and are often a highly valued gift to receive. So why not gift one to yourself?
If you can’t budget a regular massage due to time or monetary constraints – bring the spa home! Treat yourself to a nice bubble bath or home pedicure once a week. Open a bottle of bubbly or your favorite red wine and use the good wine glasses.
Schedule this time on your calendar if you need to – an appointment with yourself should be just as important as any other.
Tidy your home
Some people find cleaning and organizing incredibly relaxing. You feel a sense of accomplishment and feel like you can breathe easier when everything is in its place. If this is you, chances are your house is usually clean and won’t require much work.
Others may not see cleaning their home as a way to practice self love. It’s a chore. If that’s the case, try thinking of it this way: if you’d make your home spotless for a special guest (say, your mom), why not do the same for yourself? This time, you are the special guest.
You may want to do your cleaning before Valentine’s Day. That way, you can wake up and walk around your personal palace that morning without thinking of all the chores you have to do that day. Want to splurge a little? Hire a local housekeeper to clean your house for you!
According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter is one of the best ways to relieve stress, reduce pain, and even boost your immune system (2). It’s not just a saying – laughter really is the best medicine!
Look for comedy shows in your area or rent a movie you know to be hilarious. If you want to multitask, listen to a comedy station or podcast while you clean your house or exercise (ideas 9 and 2 of this list).
Have you been reading this list and trying to plan the “perfect me date”? Hopefully you’re not missing out on all the fun by stressing about it. There’s no need to put undue pressure on yourself!
Perfectionism can be a valued commodity in the workplace. It shouldn’t carry over to your personal life, or to how you measure your own success. Self-proclaimed perfectionist are at a higher risk for anxiety, depression, and report lower self-esteem than those that aren’t.
Feel free to refer back to item 7, and forgive yourself for your perceived shortcomings. Chances are, you’re more successful and effective than you give yourself credit for.
This day is about doing something for you, but life happens sometimes. If you make a plan and it doesn’t go exactly how you’d imagined, roll with it! You’ll love yourself even more for it.
Be kind to yourself and others
Valentine’s Day might be a tough day for you to face. Even if it isn’t, chances are that you know someone who is dreading February 14th. Take this opportunity to be extra kind to both yourself and those around you.
Being nice doesn’t cost you anything, and bringing a smile to someone’s face could end up making your day.
Did you know that being nice also has health benefits? Aside from being more pleasant to be around, actively being a kind person results in lower stress hormones, decreased blood pressure, and actually makes you more attractive!
Do things that make you feel good (singing, dancing, etc…)
All of the suggestions on this list ultimately lead to one goal: taking action to love yourself. Say none of the ideas above struck your fancy – then do your own thing!
If you look forward to going dancing or singing on the weekend, or already scheduled a nice bubble bath and a good book, don’t let us derail your plans. The whole concept is to practice self love on a day you might not feel particularly special.
Finally, remind yourself that Valentine’s Day is just a day. You don’t need an excuse to love yourself first, but a national holiday is just as good a reason as any other.