Valentine’s Day: We either love it or hate it.
As a life coach and yoga teacher, I notice that the mood in the studio and with my private peeps tends to swing wildly around this time of year.
If you have a sweetheart, it’s a fantastic holiday. But if the relationship is rough or you’re unhappily single? It sucks. And while it might be true that Hallmark cop-opted the holiday to make bank, Valentine’s Day has actually been around since pre-roman times when on February 15th, they celebrated Lupercalia, a raucous festival, where men stripped naked and spanked young maidens in hopes of upping their fertility. Not quite as romantic as we might think.
At any rate, since it’s ancient, we know one thing: for better or worse Valentine’s Day is here to stay. What’s a gal (women are generally more concerned about V-day than men) to do? Love thyself.
Starting on February 1st (so Cupid doesn’t tiptoe up on you and grab your self-esteem in the middle of the month), spend five minutes for 14 days practicing these rituals. Each takes about five minutes.
If you promise yourself these five minutes of self-love every day, I promise you that in two weeks, you will feel: braver, happier, more resourceful and, the best part? Absolutely lovable.
Day One: Dance.
You can do this absolutely anywhere. Put your favorite song on the iPod and dance like no one is watching, dance until your hair is a rat’s nest, until you take off the mask. You can invite your sweetheart to join you but in lieu of sweetheart, doing it by yourself is one of the best ways to remember that you don’t need a partner to dance.
Warning: dancing is addictive. Make sure you have a couple of dance songs queued in case you want to keep going.
Day Two: Breathe.
This Self-love meditation is inspired by yoga teacher Siri Peterson of Yoga Paws. Find five minutes in your day and sit in a quiet place. Close your eyes and notice your breath. If thoughts arise, that’s okay—try to keep your focus on your breath. Once you’ve found the rhythm of your breath, think back to a time when you felt loved by someone.
This might be a childhood memory, it might be a more close up memory. This memory may have associations of sadness (maybe you lost this person or haven’t seen them in a while), that’s okay. Allow yourself to focus on that moment of love. Where were you? What were you wearing? What season was it? What was the temperature? What sounds and smells were around you?
Feel where the emotion of love that sits in your body. Feel the quality of light that seems to rest with it. Now let the memory go and just feel the love all the way through your body. As Siri says, “This love is you!”
Day Three: Hot Towel Scrub.
This gentle body scrubbing can be done in the bath or the shower. All you need is hot water and a medium-sized washcloth. Gently scrub the skin all over your body, really paying attention to parts of your body that don’t usually get attention: beneath the ears, your shoulder blades, armpits, your inner elbows and wrists, the back of your knees.
The process of the hot towel scrub has a deep physical, mental and emotional effect and can be a sacred moment in your day; especially if done with candlelight and a drop or two of essential oil, such as lavender. This simple act has many health benefits including releasing stored toxins, activating the lymphatic system, and promoting circulation.
Day Four: Intentionally Hug Someone.
Intentional Hugs are touchy feely, but you know what? They work. Research shows that hugging can also reduce the risk of heart disease, relieve stress and make you feel calmer. The good thing is that the “someone” doesn’t have to be human. You can hug a dog or a cat, your mom, your best friend, your boyfriend (if you have one), a child (they are such good huggers!) or the retired guy across the street who always makes sure your driveway is shoveled.
No one around to hug? Wrap your arms around yourself, close your eyes, give your back a little massage and breathe in some love.
Day Five: Sing.
Belt it baby. The scientific jury is still out as to why singing makes us so happy, it may be because it raises endorphins or oxytocin, or both. Go a cappella in the shower, sing along to your favorite solo artist in the car or find some time during the day to sing a song. Melancholy or upbeat, the vibrations will bring your whole body alive.
Day Six: Let the Sun Shine In.
While V-day can be a tough holiday, some of this is just sunlight deprivation.
Exposing yourself to natural sunlight and getting some vitamin D can provide protection from osteoporosis, hypertension, cancer and autoimmune diseases. When you do it from natural light, your body makes it naturally. Is it messy and slushy outside? Stand on your porch, or in your yard under an umbrella for five minutes and take some deep breaths in.
Research shows that people who are closer to nature experience much less anxiety and depression than those who spend their time further away from green space, so soak it up!
Day Seven: Get a Big dose of Vitamin G.
Vitamin G is not a supplement, it’s something you cultivate—more gratitude. Studies say that higher levels of gratitude are associated with better sleep, and help reduce anxiety and depression. The more gratitude you cultivate, the happier you will feel and this can lead to improved sleep, which in turn can led to lower anxiety.
Spend a few minutes today brainstorming every single thing you feel grateful for, and say “Thank You” to absolutely everyone you run into at the grocery store, the coffee shop, work or the post office. You might be surprised by how many blessings you have in your amazing life.
Day Eight: Green Up.
On your way to work or on the way back, pick up a plant or a flower. Put it in a place in your office or at home that gets the most sunlight. When you fill interior spaces with houseplants, you’re not just adding greenery—these living organisms interact with your body, mind and home in ways that enhance the quality of life.
Plants absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale and give us fresh air to breathe in return, they remove environmental toxins, like formaldehyde and benzene, from the atmosphere.
Day 9: Berry Yourself Merry.
These 14 days are all about your heart, and there’s nothing better for your heart than berries. Ashley Maccha of Health.com reminds us that these colorful fruits are high in antioxidants and polyphenols, which helps fight chronic disease and cancer. Sprinkling just a few more berries in your yogurt or blending strawberries into your morning smoothie may help reduce heart attack risk.
Below is a recipe for one of the most nutritious smoothies on the market. Only have time to pick up a box of berries and a container of almond milk? That’s fine, too! Find your berry fix where you can get it.
(Vegan, raw, dairy-free and gluten-free.)
1 cup of liquid (water, almond milk, coconut milk etc)
1 cup of greens (packed)
1 banana (peeled)
1 cup of mixed berries (fresh or frozen):
About 2 tablespoons of protein (hemp seed or powder, nuts, nut butter)
1 tablespoon coconut Oil (optional)
1 tablespoon cacao powder (optional)
½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
Vanilla extract (optional)
½” ginger (optional)
Add liquid, green, protein and add-ins to the blender and blend. Add banana and fruit. Blend until smooth.
Day 10: Feast on Some Soul Food.
Soul food adds sweetness to your life. Soul food is where you find the sustenance you need to do those things that don’t always feel so soulful (like paying the bill, cleaning the bathroom and re-doing your resume). Soul food makes you feel full up and happy. Today, feast on some soul food by sitting down with a blank sheet and writing a list of 25 things that you love about yourself; no short cuts, no excuses—25 things.
Day 11: Gift to Others.
Get creative, dust off your arts and crafts box and take 10 minutes to make a homemade card. Other people will be a little anxious this time of year as well, and giving them a homemade gift will let them know someone is thinking of them. Maybe the widow down the street, someone you know who just got dumped, a friend with small kids who doesn’t have the time to deal with Valentines day or your mom.
Think of someone other than yourself, and brighten their day. I promise it will brighten yours as well.
Day 12: Gift Yourself.
Write yourself a letter. Remind yourself that you have your own back, that you love yourself unconditionally because hey, you’re all that! You can write simple words or write your dreams and secrets. It can be a thank you card for all you’ve done or a reminder of what you are going to do in your life. Make it a reflection of who you are and what you’re up to in this world. Get intimate.
Day 13: Rest.
Sleep. Nap. Savasana. For at least five minutes, lie flat on your back and close your eyes. Let your mind drift. When it wants to get hung up on something, move it along like the clouds move in the sky. Pretend for those five minutes like you don’t have a care in the world.
If you get anxious, feel your breath. Notice it and let it consume you. Allow yourself the space to hand out with your body, mind and soul. If you have time to drift off, let yourself do just that.
14. Romance Yourself with Play.
I won’t know what play looks like to you, but you know exactly what it means to feel like a little kid again. Snow angels and collages, riding your bike or baking your favorite cake, cozying up with a bowl of popcorn and your favorite movie or playing around with a little poetry.
For some it means a trip to the lingerie store, for others a trip to the museum, some people like to turn off the phone and do some yoga, others like to paint their toenails. What activity pushes all your “shoulds” aside and lets you experience the true passion of your soul? Do that!
Remember Valentine’s Day is all about love.
You are the love you seek—a beautiful miracle who brings a unique light to this world. Celebrate you!
Author: Kelly Skinner
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s Own