Valentine's Day is really easy to hate. I've always loved that I get a day where my boyfriend-now-husband really goes all out to be romantic, because it's really easy to forget that it is important in a relationship when life gets in the way. But when I lived in Boston and he lived in Denver, and our distance kept us from celebrating it, I really didn't care for it much. When I was single, I hated it. A day where I felt left out just because I was single? I'm awesome everyday, so why is there a holiday that makes me feel so terrible about myself? Not cool.
This day of love might be about romance and love and sexy times, but I think it is also about loving and giving back to yourself. In fact, I think that being intentional about self-love, whether you are in a relationship or not, is vital to our emotional health.
I've thought up a few intentions that we should try out this Valentine's Day to help us live positive, purposeful and more fulfilling lives. Are you in?
1. Love Yourself
Loving yourself is so damn hard sometimes. It is so easy and simple to pick out all the things that are wrong with ourselves - character traits become flaws, interests become sources of shame, and our bodies are abused trying to achieve some weight or look that is mostly a photoshopped facade anyway. Valentine's Day can just exacerbate this when you're single. And don't think us married people are exempt from this. I criticize myself this time of year because I don't fit into that picture perfect mold of the young, hot wife that we see in the movies.
What if instead of letting these hyper-critical voices get to us this Valentine's Day, we focus on positive self-talk and loving ourselves.
Write down three qualities that you love about yourself, either on your mirror or your cell phone or wherever you will see it the most. Intentionally reflect on these qualities throughout the day. Set reminders to literally talk to yourself, voicing self-love audibly. It may seem silly, but there is a lot of research out there stating that positive self-talk lowers rates of depression, strengthens our coping skills to deal with stress, and even enhances our immune system!
2. Try New Things
Instead of doing all of the syrupy sweet Valentine's Day activities that our culture promotes, like giving chocolates and buying roses, why not try something new? Whether you have a date or you're flying solo, trying new things can teach you more about yourself, challenge you to face fears or anxieties, stretch your creative muscles, and potentially introduce you to new friends (or potential romances!) that you wouldn't have otherwise met.
Spencer and I have really pushed one another try try new things, and it's one of the things I love best about our relationship. He brought me ice skating on a pond a few winters ago, and I took him repelling and rock climbing in New Hampshire. We also went up to Rocky Mountain National Park to watch the elk bugel a few years ago. Elk bugeling, people. But it was so much fun! It was great to be in nature observing wild animals and spending time with our friends. Trying new things is like an investment in yourself. By adding new experiences to your life, it only becomes more valuable.
I love talking about the concept of being intentional on this blog because I think it has the power to turn an ordinary life into an extraordinary one. Being passive about your day may be easier, but being active is more fulfilling. Think about the things that you have planned for your day, the routine things, and how it would look different this Valentine's Day if you approached them with an intention to love yourself and others.
What if instead of just hopping in the shower, you bought yourself some really great smelling soap or poured a few drops of Echinacea essential oil on the shower floor so that your whole bathroom smells like a spa? What a luxurious way to wake up!
While you're getting your morning coffee, what if you bought the hardworking assistant in your office a coffee too? This could totally turn their day around for the better.
Let's not let another Valentine's Day stick us where it hurts. Together, we can be intentional about loving ourselves and challenging ourselves to live more authentic and passionate lives.
*This post was written for and submitted to the IFB Project.
*"Be Intentional" photograph by Joel Freeman; design elements by Anne Taylor.