Valentine’s Day comes around each year with much fanfare — in the typical form of pink and pastel papers, sweet and sugary chocolate treats, flowers and more.
Regardless of what you put in the box on Facebook for relationship status, I’d like for you to consider making sure to give yourself some Valentine’s treats this year. The year thus far has served up an unprecedented level of uncertainty and collective anxiety, so when it comes to self care, you deserve it. Really. Here are some reminders on four self care activities you can, and should, partake in — with no clichéd mention of bubble baths or bon bons. (Though if you enjoy those, please add them to the list.)
Silence + Solitude
There is no greater gift that you can give yourself than a wonderful dip into silence and solitude. We have so much inner wisdom available to us, but you can only utilize it if you can hear it. The style and amount of silence + solitude can vary based on your needs, so it can look very different. For example, you could:
- Start a daily mindfulness practice. If you’ve fallen off your meditation routine, hop back on the horse. But otherwise, just find a time each day — even if it’s just seven minutes hidden away in the bathroom where you can’t be disturbed — to go and sit in quiet.
- Take a weekend off. Whether it’s in your own bed or at the beach, take a weekend off of obligation and necessity. Don’t go anywhere or do anything unless you truly feel like it.
- Go on a walk. There’s nothing more restorative and refreshing to me than a walk. Movement of the body, fresh air in the lugs — it’s so much better than a box of chocolates! (Or, it is a great dance partner for chocolates.) May I suggest you go on your walk without music or headphones? Just be with your thoughts.
“Society depends on the personal solitude of its members.” – Thomas Merton
Saying No (Unless it’s to Say Yes to Asking for Help)
You might be noticing that creating some space is a real theme here, and you’d be right. The other way to create some self care space is by saying, “No.” This could take shape in a number of ways, whether it is saying no to those extracurricular activities imposed by your job or friends or even telling yourself no when it comes to avoiding asking for help. (Translation: say, “Yes!” to asking for help!)
Take a second right now and take an honest inventory of all the times in the past seven days when you said yes to something that you really didn’t want to, or you really didn’t have the time/money/energy to do properly. What pops up, and how could you change that the next time it comes up?
I truly believe that our hearts crave connect with like-minded souls, and there’s a balance between being in silence + solitude and being with others. Your balance is based on how much you are an extrovert/introvert. But here’s a question for you: When’s the last time you spent quality time with someone and both laughed out loud, uncontrollably? If you can’t remember the last time, then get some time on the books and set the stage for connection. Just get it on the calendar and pick something simple – it could be a walk, as mentioned above, or a creative project, as mentioned below. Or just time to chat in a cafe. But find time for that thoughtful connection and time to talk, listen, and perhaps laugh.
Last but certainly not least, creative time is self care time, and I suggest getting some creative activity on the books that will fill you (and give your overworked brain something easy to chew on for awhile, instead of your current problems that are playing over and over in your head). Creative activities like coloring, knitting, or painting release positive chemicals into the body to help calm your systems and help them to slow down and operate in a different gear.
You might be thinking that you’re too busy to do a creative project — heck, maybe all of these ideas sound like you don’t have the time for them. But, in my opinion, if you don’t have time for any of these then you are the one in the most need of them. It’s up to you to decide how you spend your time, and if you are a priority in your life (I sure hope you are!) then please, prioritize some time to be your own valentine and find time for silence + solitude, saying no, connection, and creativity.