Self-love isn't just a buzzword. Kindness, compassion, and caring for your physical and mental wellbeing are all common themes in loving yourself, and these things boast real benefits. Valentine's day is a holiday all about love, but often, people use the day to focus on the romantic variety of it. You can make Valentine's Day what you want it to be, and loving yourself is both an inclusive and beneficial way to celebrate - whether you have a partner or not.
Why focus on self-love this Valentine's Day? While pessimism and perfectionism both have significant potential adverse effects, like an increased risk of depression symptoms and poorer physical health, self-love can promote wellbeing in various ways. It can mean that you're more resilient, less likely to put yourself down, and more likely to seek social connections and habits that are positive for you. Furthermore, compassion for oneself is linked to increased motivation and productivity, a reduced likelihood of depression symptoms, and lower physical and mental markers of stress.
Want to reap the benefits? Here are some ways to practice self-love this year.
Whether partnered or single, ask yourself the question, "How can I be the best companion for myself?" No matter who else is in your life, you will remain a constant.
There are a lot of things we can't control in the world. As the saying goes, sometimes we are our own worst critics. At times, you might say things to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else you love. This is one way to be objective in how you treat yourself and, if needed, modify it. When you feel down about yourself, ask how you would react to a partner who felt that way. When you want to give yourself love, think about what you'd want a partner to do.
On Valentine's Day, take it a step further. If you were your own romantic partner, how would you plan the best Valentine's Day possible for yourself? What will make you feel loved, cared for, and refreshed? A bath with candles, your favorite meal, a FaceTime date with your best friend, a movie night, dancing to your favorite music? Whatever the answer is, plan the perfect Valentine's Day for yourself.
Not everyone will be able to do this particular one, and that could be true for various reasons. You may be social distancing due to the pandemic or a Covid exposure, or you may not have a friend who is available or lives close enough, etc. However, maybe you have a friend who is single or who doesn't have Valentine's Day plans who you could spend the day with.
If this is the case, call or text and ask if they want to celebrate Valentine's Day with you. It could be on a day close to, but not on, Valentine's Day if that better accommodates your schedule. If you prefer not to be alone, this is a great solution, and it's actually a relatively common practice. Some celebrate with their friends and call it "Palentine's Day" or “Galentine’s Day.” If in-person hangouts aren't an option, consider video chat.
You can exchange presents, have a sleepover, play video games, watch a movie, order takeout, or simply hang out with a friend and make memories. Who knows? It could be your most special Valentine's Day yet.
Writing a love letter to yourself is an excellent way to employ self-care. Many people grew up to believe that speaking about or even to themselves positively was vain or selfish. This could be why it's such a challenge for some to shift toward self-love. It's okay if it feels like a slightly uncomfortable task at first; push yourself to write a genuine love letter and try to write it to yourself the way you'd pen one for someone else, like a significant other.
We often want to console those we love, and no human being is immune to having an off day. A great way to practice self-love is to extend that comfort to your future self.
On Valentine's Day, set time aside to make yourself a self love care package for when life gets rough. It can include a game or activity book, small objects that will make you smile, a list of self love affirmations, a self love note to yourself, or something you can use to pamper yourself.
Know That Your Activities Don't Have To Be Centered On Valentine’s Day
Valentine's Day is a challenging day for some people. Although some will get themselves Valentine’s Day candy or buy themselves a nice meal, there are also people for whom even thinking about these things may hit a sore spot.
Identifying your own needs and respecting them is often an essential segment of self-love. It's okay to shift your focus away from the holiday if you need to and feel that that's best.
Consider Your Love Languages
What if you want to do one of the things on this list but just aren't sure which one? Alternatively, what if you have a limited amount of time to celebrate Valentine's Day? It may help to take your love languages into account:
Often, when we talk about love languages, we think about how other people can love us but don't realize that we can also use them for the purpose of showing self-love. It can be an exercise in self-exploration and self-care both to explore how you can employ self-love through your love languages. Though it's fun for Valentine's Day, you can do this any day of the year, especially if there's a day when you need extra TLC and aren't sure how to give it to yourself.
Bonus Valentine's Day activity: If you don't know your primary love languages, you can take the quiz at https://www.5lovelanguages.com/.
What If Self-Love Doesn't Come Easily?
Self-love isn't always easy, especially when you first try to reward yourself.
The best way to strengthen self-love is to practice it all year. If you're just getting serious about caring for yourself and giving yourself the care and respect that you deserve, be gentle with yourself.
It's also not something you have to do alone. Many things can affect the way we treat ourselves, the way we feel about ourselves, our thought patterns, and so on, and professional help may be beneficial in getting to a better place. A therapist can help you break old, deep-rooted routines and live a life that nurtures your authenticity, self-care, self-compassion, and self-love.
Therapy should be readily accessible for all, but it's sometimes hard to find. For many, online therapy is an easy and reliable solution. When you sign up for ReGain, you will answer a brief collection of multiple-choice questions that enable you to match with an independent, licensed, and experienced therapist who fulfills your needs. Typically, matches are made within 24 hours but can take a few days if you don’t feel they are right for you. ReGain offers counseling options for those seeking individual therapy as well as those who desire couple's therapy. You can start or stop therapy at any time, and there are multiple plans to choose from. You deserve self-love and satisfaction no matter where you're at in life, and the experts at ReGain are here to help. Read below for reviews of ReGain therapists from people experiencing similar issues.
“Lakesha was absolutely amazing! She helped me find myself and realize my self worth in such a short period! I highly recommend her services she is FRESH and has amazing insight!” https://www.regain.us/lakesha-hayes/
“My experience with Priscilla has been immensely helpful in better understanding myself and providing me with the tools to see my life and relationships with more clarity and compassion.” https://www.regain.us/priscilla-wilson/
If you're not where you want to be with self-love, you can get there. Use self-love year-round to attain the benefits, and don't hesitate to ask for a helping hand. Valentine’s Day can be an excellent opportunity to practice showing yourself some self-love and kindness.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is self-love difficult?
Loving yourself can be difficult for so many reasons. Many individuals find it hard to do this so please know that you are not alone. This is a life-long journey, and the way in which you care for yourself can change over time based on your wants and needs.
If you find this practice difficult and have no idea where to start, don't worry! Find moments throughout your day, week, month, or even year when you feel truly taken care of and nourished. Whether that be through watching your favorite movie, treating yourself to a nourishing meal, spending time alone or with a friend, or going for a hike or walk in nature. Observing and creating awareness around the moments and actions you take that make you feel full and nourished is one big step towards learning how to care for yourself.
Also know that it can take time and can change. What may make you feel nourished and cared for in your 20's may be completely different when you're in your 40's. As humans we evolve and change over time, so allow the ways in which you care for yourself also.