“I hate being alone on Valentine’s Day. I don’t even like commercial holidays- but it still gets to me.”
There are several reasons why you may not “feel the love” this year on Valentine’s Day. To name a few: being single if you would prefer to have a partner, having a partner who doesn’t express appreciation or affection as much as you would prefer, and being in a state of grief- for any kind of loss. Even while the dominant culture seems to worship partnership and romantic love, the fact is that more than half of American adults- according to recent census measures- are single, which here means “unmarried.” Not all, but many of us have a natural drive for romantic connection with another person. Being single- combined with desiring a partner- during a holiday where others are enjoying time with their partners is a perfect time to take care of yourself. In fact, any time that the wider culture is celebrating something that is not part of your current reality is a perfect time to take care of yourself.
Both of the categories below for taking care of yourself when not feeling the love, Make it a Self-Care Day and Let Your Light Shine, are using the same principle: watering the tiny seeds of happiness, love, and generosity that are always in us, but that- at difficult times- are hard to see. We are not the victims of our emotions, and we are not our emotions. Emotions come, emotions go- and we have a direct hand in helping them along in the direction we want them to go. That is what all of the suggestions in this week’s article are meant to do. Note: if you are suffering with major depression, it’s important to start small. It is less likely you will be motivated to do something large to care for yourself (like the “run a marathon” possibility, below.) Something small, like drawing a bath or reaching out with a phone call to a friend, are perfectly good and will also alter your brain chemistry for the positive. Depression has a way of darkening our view of all kinds of things- even your self-care efforts. I challenge anyone experiencing major depression to celebrate what you ARE able to do, rather than judging yourself for what you currently aren’t doing. We are all on our own paths. I’ve heard it said that we are all uniquely beautiful flowers in the garden of humanity- you, me: everyone.
Make it a Self-Care Day
I’d like to note that self-care almost never requires a lot of money. However, sometimes it is nice to pamper yourself with experiences that you don’t have every day. Whether you spend any extra money on your day or not, the point is to give yourself some truly present care. Especially when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I like to think of it as being your own awesome romantic partner; it turns out that you can do for yourself the things you would love to do for a partner or for a partner to do for or with you. Here is a list of possibilities:
-Make a point of attending that yoga class / crossfit session / hiking club / etc. you tend to skip.
-Make a healthy and delicious meal to eat while listening to your favorite music.
-Put some candles and nice music (favorite beverage?) in the bathroom, draw yourself a hot bath, and soak for as long as you want.
-Buy yourself flowers or a new potted plant for your home or office.
-Set aside time to do your creative thing- play your instrument, paint, sculpt, write.
-Take yourself out to an amazing show you wouldn’t normally pay to see.
-Go to bed early and spend some quality time… with yourself… before falling asleep.
-Get a professional massage.
-Give yourself a massage- maybe in the bath. Massaging your own calves, feet, belly, arms, neck, head, face, and hands is really nice.
-Spend some quality time with your Higher Power, if you believe in one: prayer, meditation, listening to a dharma talk / sermon, going to church.
-Invest in brushing up your appearance with a haircut, facial, or manicure.
-Schedule an all-day outdoor adventure, if mid-February weather where you live is comfortable for you: a bike tour, surfing, a long hike, a marathon. Hint: this year, the LA Marathon is on Valentine’s Day…
Let Your Light Shine
Sometimes, self-care comes in the form of letting our love and care flow outward. When we consciously choose to focus on uplifting others (rather than focusing on others as a habitual way of not paying attention to our own needs; there is a big difference!) we are liberating some of our most powerful potential: the potential to multiply positive energy, to touch many lives. At the end of the day, those we touch and we, ourselves, are lifted up. In order to access our loving thoughts and appreciations, it is key to pause and spend 10 minutes or so meditating on and/or writing about the people in our lives who we’d like to give some love. What do you appreciate about them? What really great qualities about them might be hidden much of the time? Where have you seen them shine?
Once you’ve got some love flowing, here are several suggestions for sharing that love with the people in our lives on or near Valentine’s Day:
-Buy a dozen flowers and give one, with a small note of appreciation attached, to your nearest colleagues (in your office, for example, or on your team.)
-Invite a good friend to be your guest at that music show with which you are pampering yourself.
-Write a haiku or other short verse about someone you appreciate, describing their superhero qualities, and give it to them- by email, on a social media forum, in a card, on a note attached to something nice like a flower or chocolate.
-Take a good friend out for a special lunch.
-Make it a point of telling a handful of people (3? 8?) a few things you appreciate about them when you see them the week of Valentine’s Day.
-Depending on your goofball factor (mine is pretty high,) buy a box of those Valentines that kids give each other at school from the drugstore, and give them (with candy hearts in the envelope, of course) to your friends / neighbors / colleagues who you think can handle the goof.
-If you don’t already have a place you volunteer your time regularly, find one ahead of time and schedule to be there on Valentine’s Day, caring for the people, land, or animals the place serves.
Important skills you are strengthening:
Now, Share Your Experience
If you have some tips for self-care during triggering holidays, please share them in the “comments” section.