It’s Valentine’s Day, which means shops around the country are flooded with pink and red balloons, cheap chocolates, cheesy cards and ridiculous bouquets of flowers. While there’s nothing wrong with those things, including giving them or receiving them…it can seem like an echoing gesture if you’re not first loving yourself.

Whether you’re in a relationship or not, you don’t need a specific day to express your love for yourself or another. This Valentine’s Day, I’m planning on showing someone important how much they mean to me…that person is me. This Valentine’s Day is all about self-love, so here are some of my favorite “me date” ideas. Think of these as a “create your own adventure” type of thing, so if you want to insert another human, no one’s stopping you…but if you want to strengthen the relationship you have with you, here are some ways to give yourself a big, sappy hug today.

Write Yourself a Love Letter

We’re our own harshest critics. We see ourselves through a distorted lens that, over time, can tell us we’re not worthy. I love writing letters to those I love, but I realized I’ve never written myself a love letter. It helps to get your thoughts down on paper, where you can see the type of words you use to describe yourself. Do they come from a place of love and truth, or are they overly critical? Go easy on yourself this Valentine’s Day. Pull from a place of respect and kindness…and even if you can only find one nice thing to say to yourself, write it.

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Go Glam…or Not

What makes you feel invincible? Is it a dress, some lipstick, messy windblown hair, your hiking boots, or a fresh makeup-less face in the sunshine? Whatever it is, do/wear/feel that. Throw on your wedding dress and walk aimlessly through your neighborhood for hours. If that thing will make you feel like Beyonce, you should do it and forget what it looks like to someone else. Paint your nails, put on your favorite pair of tattered jeans, wear no pants at all! Go to the mall, climb a mountain, surf a wave, watch romantic comedies. Do whatever on the outside that makes you feel good inside! We’re not here to judge.

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…And Check Your Judgment

Along the same lines, checking your judgment at the door is a great way to love yourself. We sometimes cope with our own insecurities by tearing others down. There’s no perfect portrait of what a woman (or man) should be, and Valentine’s Day can be another reminder to build your fellow women (and men) up instead of tearing her (or him) down. We all belong, we all need to take up space, express ourselves, be the creators of life. You are not your job. I am not my clothes. We are not the roles we play. Be kind and empathetic…we’re all just trying to get by.

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Get Outside

Just a few minutes outside can drastically boost your daily mood. For me, the outdoors is my church, it’s my safe place, my stress-free zone. Whether it’s a walk in your favorite park with your dog, a hike before work, or sitting on your back patio with a [strong] cocktail, give yourself the gift of a few minutes outdoors. Nature always has a way of bringing me back to my baseline, to balance my crazy and put things back into perspective.

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Disconnect

For me, there’s no bigger anti-self-love trap than social media. It’s easy to derive likes, comments, and shares as connection, but I think about all the times I’ve mindlessly scrolled through liking things without reading the caption, without really understanding the human behind the screen. Then there’s the comparison fallacy. That couple’s Valentine’s Day is better than mine because they’re holding hands on an overlook in Santorini and I’m just sitting here eating pizza on the couch with my cat. Try and disconnect for the day, be present and feel the world around you, rather than hollowly watching it on someone’s cultivated social media profile.

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Chase the Light

Nothing rejuvenates my spirit more than watching the sunrise. Most of the time I ‘d rather whack-a-mole my alarm into oblivion than wake up an hour early, but once I’m there, as the sun’s warm rays envelop me in a gossamer blanket of pinks, purples, and oranges, I’m wide awake. I always feel rooted in a day when I’ve seen it begin…that moment of inception breathes life into time. If you really want to be an overachiever, try catching the sunset as well.

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Choose a Self-Love Reward

At the end of a long day, I love climbing into the bathtub, tossing in some Epsom salt, and filling it with water so hot my skin reddens, as I sink deeply into the steam.  I also love massages, yoga, cooking, or just indulging in my favorite sweet while watching a Tim Burton movie. Your reward can be anything that makes you happy…it just needs to be for you.

Share the Love

Now that you’ve taken care of numero uno with some self-love and gratitude—share the wealth! Call someone you care about and be vulnerable with them. Whether it’s a relative, a friend, a crush…tell them what they mean to you, say thank you. Curl up with your significant other, grab beers with your friends, watch your favorite movie while live-Tweeting. Give someone a hug, tell a stranger a joke, do something nice for someone else. Pay it forward…that’s the ultimate self-love gift.

What are you doing with you on Valentine’s Day? 

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