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Love yourself first

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner (and endless ads for chocolates, roses, romantic dinners bombarding us), it’s hard to avoid this sweetheart holiday. And maybe you shouldn’t.  But instead of fretting over what to buy your beau or cursing the fact that you’re currently single, I challenge you to make the most of February 14th (and every day after) by giving love and affection to the one person almost everyone neglects: YOURSELF!  That’s right; I want you to show some serious self-love this year and see what a different it makes to your mind, body and spirit. 

Here are a few of my favorite ways to remind myself just how much I am loved.

Begin your day with love, not technology. Instead of reaching for your phone to check the latest on social media, take ten minutes and focus on yourself. Whether you’re doing a quick meditation, a few minutes of gentle yoga or simply sitting at the kitchen table and enjoying a cup of coffee or tea, give yourself (not the TV, not the radio, not your phone) the first moments of the day.  You might be shocked what you think of, how you feel, where your mind goes when it’s not immediately inundated with the outside world.

Turn your bedroom into a relaxation room by eliminating all forms of technology. Having a TV, computer or cell phone in your room can seriously screw up your sleep patterns; countless studies have been done on the blue light emitted from these devices, and the results all confirm that it can be incredibly harmful to your sleep and health. Your room needs to be a sacred space for a great night’s sleep so your body can heal itself and prepare for the next day. Diffuse essential oils in your room to help relax. Maybe buy some flowers for yourself and put them next to your bed.  Add anything that is peaceful and calming to you and remove the rest.

Treat yourself. Of course it feels nice to get a present, flowers or candy from a special someone.  But why wait? For me, picking up fresh flowers from the farmers market is a little gift I give myself every weekend throughout the summer.  I love the way they look and smell, but, more importantly, I love the way they make me feel. Find something that you’d normally consider “for a special occasion only,” and declare TODAY and YOURSELF the special occasion.

Change it up. Humans have become creatures of habit, but adventure stimulates the brain and can instantly elevate your mood. Having an adventure doesn’t have to mean skydiving or taking an elaborate trip; something as simple as trying a new fitness class, finding a new hiking trail instead of jogging around your neighborhood, or having an unexpected date on a weeknight can awaken your senses and make you feel more alive. 

Keep a praise or gratitude journal. For a praise journal, write down the things you’re good at or have done well that day, big or small. We are often our own harshest critics, so the praise journal reminds us to pat ourselves on the back once in a while. Equally as important is keeping a gratitude journal, which is an ongoing list of everything we are thankful for. It’s far too easy to focus on what we lack when we should be seeing all that we have! Maybe you dream of a bigger house, which is quite normal; when you write down in gratitude that you have a warm home, it reminds you that there are many people who aren’t as lucky (instead of focusing on wanting more, more, more). Remember, both lists are just for you, so there are no rules or restrictions. Were you grateful that the sun was shining today? Write it down! Were you pleased with yourself for the fantastic dinner you made? Add it to the list!  Do this consistently and I am quite sure you’ll feel a change in yourself.

Happy Valentine’s Day!