February 12, 2019

Be your own Valentine

Have you ever given yourself a Valentine’s Day gift?

It doesn’t matter if you are single or in a committed relationship, your first and most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.

Valentine’s Day comes in the heart of winter, at a time when many people struggle with the “winter blues,” stress, depression or burnout. I’m writing this post to give you (and me) some ideas for combating those feelings and practicing what I think of as “radical self-care.”

The key is to treat yourself to a little Valentine’s Day kindness

Self-care has gotten a lot of attention in recent years, yet for many of us with busy professional and personal lives, it can feel like a luxury we just can’t afford.

Not only is that extraordinarily sad (after all, if you won’t take care of yourself, who will?), but it also ultimately makes everything you are trying to do even more difficult.  The harder you push, the closer to the edge of burnout you get, the more your physical and mental health suffer.  It will show in your work, your relationships, your everything.

Conversely, dipping your toe into the soothing waters of self-care can support your mental and physical health, and it may even improve your performance.

But in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I urge you to explore self-care not as a way of doing more and sharpening your competitive edge.  As Margarita Tartakovsky writes, “Self-care feels expansive, not restrictive. It isn’t just another task to put on our already too-long to-do list. Rather, it’s a deep breath we take.”

My own self-care practices

Here are the top 10 gifts I try to give to myself around Valentine’s Day — or anytime, really — as I focus on the important practice of self-care.

  1. Practice gratitude — any way I can.
  2. Have a cup of hot tea.
  3. Spend an hour with my dog.
  4. Read an inspiring book.
  5. Take a deep breath in — and then don’t forget to EXHALE. Repeat three times.
  6. Do 30 minutes of gentle yoga.
  7. Take a walk.
  8. Call a friend.
  9. Turn all my electronic gadgets off for 24 hours.
  10. Drink a large glass of water.

Pick one or more of the ideas recommended by others or something from my list. Try it as a daily habit for at least 30 days, and take a minute to write down three things that change for you during that time. Let me know in the comments what worked for you.

And don’t wait until next year to pick another one!

How do you practice self-care?

Please share your tips in the comments!

Last updated February 12, 2019