In my therapy practice, I’ve often noticed an increase in stress, anxiety, and depressed mood around the time of Valentine’s Day. People who are not in committed relationships report feeling more vulnerable, insecure, and even “inadequate” as they face the reality that no one will be giving them flowers, candy or a sentimental card. I am not minimizing the sadness that might accompany a lack of a loving attachment on Valentine’s Day. And yet, I would like to dispel the idea that you need someone else to offer you loving words or special trinkets to feel worthy or cherished. Since the media and our culture seem determined to shine a spotlight on the notion of love in February, why not use it as an opportunity to reconnect with feelings of self-love and self-worth rather than waiting for or needing that validation from someone else? Here are a few suggestions to try:
- Pick out a beautiful card, write a loving note and mail it to yourself!
- Buy yourself a bouquet of your favorite flowers.
- Get the ingredients for your favorite meal or dessert, cook it to musical accompaniment, and then enjoy eating it.
- Treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure.
- Give yourself a hand massage with soothing lotion.
- Go on-line and buy yourself a gift basket with goodies or spa products.
- Give yourself extra time to enjoy a morning cup of coffee
- Leave yourself a voice message of encouragement- play it a few times during the day
- Look in the mirror and say out loud three things you are proud of about yourself- repeat a few times a day
- Download that song you love and play it while taking a walk
- Bring a book and check out that new restaurant you’ve wanted to try
- Visit a tourist attraction in your own city
There are many ways to be your own best valentine. And the good news is, you dramatically decrease disappointment and increase actually getting your needs met when you do these things for yourself! No matter how generous other people may be with their gifts and loving words, the truth is, your sense of self-esteem is most powerfully reinforced by the kind words you tell yourself and the loving gestures you do for yourself. This February, be your own valentine, and remember to keep that positive, self-affirming behavior going all year round!