Not Your Average Valentine's Post
As I begin writing this post I am sitting in my kitchen with the month of February quickly approaching. As I looked through my list of blog post ideas nothing really stood out to me so instead, I started looking at the calendar and clearly the big event in February is Valentine’s day. As soon as I started to think about this “holiday” I thought of how lonely many people feel this time of year and the immense pressure to have someone by your side and make it extra special. I felt compassion and some disgust (at society).
Society has given us the message that we need to be with someone special on Valentine’s day, that we need to make it super romantic, and that if you don’t do these things you are somehow an unloving partner or will be forever alone. At this point I must be grateful to my husband Josh who, in our nearly 14 years together, has refused to make a big deal out of Valentine’s day. Whenever it comes up, he has said “I can show you I love you any day of the year, I don’t need a special day to do it”. I cannot say that I am impervious to the social pressures and there have certainly been times when I look at the cute and romantic things my friends and random people on the internet are doing with a sense of longing. However, I have had to adapt and accept that it is not part of my life. What I have come to realize is that I am much happier if I can spend some time on self-love because in the words of RuPaul “if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”
That leads me to the topic of this post: Self-Love
What is it and why is it important?
I think that Halsey has summed up a major theme in the world of social media with this lyric from the song I Hate Everybody on her album Manic.
What is self-love?
Today’s society values busy-ness and shames us if we appear selfish; but it also tells us to indulge ourselves and remember YOLO (for anyone who is not acronym savvy this means You Only Live Once). Gretchen Rubin talks about YOLO in an episode of her podcast and makes an excellent point that while on the surface this may seem like self-love and freedom, it is often a way that we justify doing something that will actually make us less happy in the long run. If you want to hear more from Gretchen check out her podcast “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” HERE.
I believe that to truly love yourself goes much deeper than buying that nice pair of socks, your favourite sweet treat, or that dream vacation. It goes to your core beliefs about yourself, what you are deserving of, and what makes your body, mind, and soul feel connected and at ease. There are an infinite number of ways to do this which might include the socks, food, or travel but might also include saying “no” sometimes or allowing yourself the opportunity to try something scary without judging yourself for the outcome.
Why is self-love important?
I love analogies, so I’ll use one for this. Let’s imagine you have an internal battery and each time you do something that battery either goes up or down. When your actions consistently expend energy that battery will get depleted. You then need a way to re-charge that battery or you will run out of juice. So let’s look at a pretty average day:
90 % Morning (let’s be real here, we don’t always start the day fully charged)
85% Getting self and others ready for the day
50% Before lunch break
60% Talk to loved one, look at funny memes on break, (mostly) healthy food
30% End of workday
20% Commute home
25% Zone out
30% Dinner and connecting with people
35% Netflix and chill
25% Go to bed late and have trouble falling asleep
Obviously I have just pulled numbers out of nowhere because every person will find different things draining or recharging for their own battery but the point is - if you are consistently draining that battery and not recharging it you can see how it might be hard to function.
Self-love is those things that help you get fully charged. I’m guessing pretty much everyone reading this probably has a cell phone or other electronic device and can relate to the panicky feeling if you’re running low on battery and that focused need to find a plug in - and heaven forbid you don’t have a charger! I think we would all benefit from having a similar drive to recharge ourselves and/or conserve battery.
Now I am sitting at my desk on February 13th still hoping to get this posted by tomorrow. I am stressed out about getting valentines ready for my son’s daycare and in desperate need of some recharging myself so let’s spend a moment looking at some ways to recharge and conserve your battery.
ReCharging: These are the things that help you feel renewed, refreshed and ready to go. Maybe it is counter-intuitive, but these activities are not necessarily all pleasant. Some of them certainly will be, but others are tasks that you may not enjoy but feel better having done.
Do something indulgent: bubble bath, new book or music, a favourite treat, etc
Take care of your body: shower, brush your teeth, exercise, stretch, drink some water, etc
Take care of your environment: Clean up the kitchen, take out the trash, do your budget, etc
Connect: reach out and talk to someone, go for coffee with a friend, call that person you’ve been meaning to call, etc
Get some Vitamin Nature: GO OUTSIDE! No seriously, do it. Even 5 minutes outside can boost your energy and happiness.
Conserving: These are the things that can help you hold on to whatever energy you do have.
Learn to set boundaries (and enforce them!).
Prioritize the tasks you do in a day.
Set some goals for yourself, even small ones.
Practice gratitude every day. Yes, even on the tough days.
Be kind to yourself.
Sidenote: This was finally posted from my kitchen table on February 16. The valentines were finished and were a hit, we even made cookies for daycare. I have also been able to (mostly) recharge my battery.