Valentine’s Day. Once, a day when you celebrated friendship with your classmates and it was socially acceptable to overeat all the candy despite being months away from Halloween. Now, for many, this holiday comes with over analyzing relationship statuses and negatively comparing ourselves to how our current relationship (or lack thereof) doesn’t match the commercialized image of love that corporations and social media would like us to believe is the gold standard. You know, the idea that love is only real if it comes paired with milk chocolate and gifts wrapped in red bows. I don’t know about you, but I don’t buy it. Literally and figuratively.
Instead of smothering yourself and others in red and gifts from the liquor store, here are some alternative ways to observe the holiday.
1. Celebrate what you do have vs. getting fixated on what you don’t.
As discussed, Valentine’s Day can be a downer. When you notice yourself thinking about what you don’t have or how your relationship doesn’t “match up” to the romance novel version of what the TV says you “should have,” switch gears and practice expressing gratitude for what’s right in front of you. Just thinking about what we’re grateful for can positively impact our mood but expressing it takes it to a whole new level. Go ahead, say it aloud: “I’m grateful for you because _______.”
If you have to write it on a card, break it up into a few cards and then slowly disperse them out over the next few months. If you are in a relationship and the only time you praise your partner with love and thanks is on February 14th… we gotta work on that! If you don’t have a partner, what do you have? Close friends, co-workers, exercise buds, family members you actually like, a nice neighbor, a really awesome pet? Go ahead, share your gratitude with them. Don’t overthink it or judge it — just do it!
2. Practice “self love” and do something indulgent for you.
When was the last time you expressed gratitude to yourself? Your body does so much for you every single day, and yet it rarely makes the cut for something we think about as a thing to be grateful for. Go ahead: pat yourself on the back and then thank your back for all that it does.
Once you’re done with that, pick something out of the ordinary and do it or book it as a token of your appreciation… for you. One of the secrets to successful relationships is taking care of you first. In order to give to others without burning out, we have to know what helps us refuel our batteries and allow ourselves to take that space and time to do so. Don’t overthink it or judge it — just do it!
3. Do absolutely nothing.
You read that right. Give yourself a day to practice the art of “being.” Being is the opposite of all things “doing.” Don’t work, don’t prep for what’s next, don’t stress, don’t judge yourself, don’t judge people celebrating Valentine’s Day… just be. Chill. Put your feet up, let your hair down and soak up the quietness. Our brains and our bodies need down time. We constantly go, go, go so much that we can easily forget how necessary just being is for our beings.
They say that creativity, music, art and even love in its sincerest form comes from a place beneath our words and thoughts. Allowing ourselves to “be” can help foster these things in our lives. As a culture, we’re wired to be stressed out and constantly searching for something else to fill our voids and fix our problems, when really, the opposite of all that striving and finding is usually what we need. Be still, take a load off. Don’t overthink it or judge it — just do it!