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Why Valentine’s Day Should be About Loving YOU

Valentine’s day is a divisive day. Some people love the excuse to get all romantic and make a fuss of the person they love. Others hate being told that they should be romantic on this day and see it as a money-making scam. It can be a tough day for those that are single or recently widowed as well. Whilst I will refrain from adding my own point of view to the debate, I want to put a new perspective on this annual event. What if we could make it a self-love holiday too? Ultimately, whether you are in a relationship or not, loving yourself will help to make you happier, healthier and stronger and this will have a benefit not just for you but for anyone around you.

Why do we even celebrate romance on Valentine’s day anyway? The simple answer is no one really knows! The first mention of it as a romantic holiday was by the poet Chaucer in 1375. Some say that St Valentine performed secret marriages for Roman soldiers after it was banned to try and keep them focused on war. Others that St Valentine sent the first valentine himself to the daughter of his jailor. Further ideas centre around the use of the feast of St Valentine to supersede the Pagan fertility holy feast of Lupercalia. The fact is we don’t know why we do it so, in my humble opinion, there’s no reason we can’t use the day to celebrate whatever we like.

As a society today we are seeing an increase of stress and mental health issues across the community. As someone who themselves conquers a daily battle with such issues, I can say that one of the things many people lack in is self-care and self-love. It’s often seen as vain or selfish to spend some time caring for yourself before others, especially if you’re a carer or parent. However, you can’t care for others fully if you’re running on empty or worse – in crisis yourself. Let’s use Valentine’s day then to focus on love no matter what your relationship status and even if that love is just for yourself. Let’s add Self-Love to the list of types of love that may be celebrated on February 14th.

Here are my top five tips on ways to add self-love to valentines (or any) day:

1. Write a love letter to yourself

We focus so much on writing the perfect Valentines card that encapsulates our feelings to our partners in a card chosen with care. Alternatively, we get upset that we aren’t receiving the cards and embrace the anti-valentine’s movement with gusto. Instead of looking for this love from others (in indeed as well as receiving it if you’re lucky enough) why not write one for yourself. Take a moment to write down what you like and appreciate about yourself, big or small. Afterall ultimately the only person’s opinion you must live with 24/7 is your own so why not take a moment to speak well to yourself and appreciate your better qualities.

2. Treat yourself to some pampering

Valentines is often all about gifts and spoiling your other half in showy public ways. Whether you’re receiving that wonderful treatment or not how about pampering yourself? Using valentine’s day to take a moment to treat yourself well might change the way you think about it for the better. It doesn’t have to be expensive; 10 minutes in the bath, a face mask, watching your favourite movie, treating yourself to your favourite food or even a nice long walk can all be a treat if you normally don’t have time for these things. By planning it as an annual event it gives you something positive always on the calendar to work towards and who doesn’t need that?

3. Plan a new adventure

Sometimes daydreaming and planning an adventure can almost be as exciting as the act of doing it itself. Sounds crazy but bear with me. Think about sitting down and designing your perfect vacation. Where would you go? What would you do? What time of year? Researching it online and dreaming about the possibilities can help you to think more positively and be excited about potential futures. Who knows maybe you’ll end up finding out that some version of your adventure is affordable and booking it! Or maybe you’ll just be ready to hit the button when the timing is right. Either way, what’s the harm?

4. Say no

Now by this I don’t mean just say no to everything, that would be difficult. However, why not make this day the one day of the year where you don’t just automatically say yes to everything. Where you don’t agree to go to your second cousin’s friend’s 21st birthday party just because they don’t want to go alone. A day where when you don’t say yes to doing anything that you don’t feel like doing that day. This requires two things though; Firstly, warn your family that you will be doing this and that it’s not personal so that they’re not surprised by it and they know not to try and negotiate with you on it. Secondly, it requires you to be decisive and say what you DO want to do. You can’t just say no to everything and expect the world to adjust. Instead, if you’re saying no to the birthday party know what you want to do with your time instead. After all, it’s easier and less disruptive to say, “I’m sorry I can’t I have plans that day.” than “No sorry I don’t want to.” Isn’t it?

5. Forgive yourself

Now this one’s a tough one, especially for someone like me that is still beating himself up over the car I accidentally pulled out on at a T junction over a year ago (nothing happened, no accident just a honking of a horn and an upset driver)! For a healthy mind however it is important to try and let go of some of the things we hold over ourselves. So why not make Valentine’s day the day of ultimate self-love by forgiving yourself? Write down on scraps of paper all the things that you are sorry for, things you’re beating yourself up for and then rip them up into tiny shreds whilst saying “I forgive you!”. You could burn them in a fire pit (safety first though please folks) if you prefer or even get imaginative and write them on dissolvable paper and then watch them dissolve in the toilet or sink! If you’re feeling very brave you can say them out loud whilst looking yourself in the mirror and then look yourself in the eyes whilst saying “I forgive you (name) for (event).” Sounds new age and silly I know but believe me it’s strangely empowering.

Whatever you choose to make Valentine’s day about this year let’s make it a day of positive love rather than annoyance and hatred. I get it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but maybe just a change of the day’s purpose into a day about self-love might make it a day you look forward to instead of dreading each year.

Leo Whyte
Dr Leo Whyte grew up in the North East of Scotland in the 80's and 90's. During his young life, he was a victim of sexual, physical and mental abuse on several occasions. After diagnosis with CPTSD in 2017, he decided to use his past traumas to fuel his hunger for self-improvement and adopted the life goal of leaving the world a better place than when he entered it. As well as being a scientist Leo is an accredited Life Coach, Personal Trainer and Nutritionist as well as an experienced senior manager.

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