For the past two years I've put together a special post at Valentine's Day that focuses on self-love. It's a real joy to get to interview some of my favorite humans about how they practice self-love. We're all pretty hard on ourselves. Making Valentine's Day about self-love, rather than romantic love is something that has always resonated with me. After all, the most important relationship of your life—the relationship you will always be in—is with yourself. Here, 10 brilliant, funny, incredible women share how they pamper themselves when they need a little love.
1. Give your full attention to a guilty pleasure—without feeling guilty.
"My approach to self-love is less about what I do and more about how I do it. For it to be truly beneficial, I think you have to 1) really focus on what you're doing, and 2) not feel guilty about doing something for yourself. So if I decide to watch a sappy rom-com on my own, I want to immerse myself in the movie. And as hard as it is to sit there and immerse myself in it, no multitasking!! Same thing applies if I want to read a new book; I grant myself permission to fully immerse myself in the book—just read and do nothing else. And I don't let myself feel guilty about spending time on my own to read it." —Danielle, 37
2. Always go for the extra 15-minute massage.
"I turn my phone on airplane mode and give myself a few hours of “me” time. I have coffee and make my favorite chocolate/banana/peanut butter smoothie. I listen to a meditation on my phone—Mndfl has video meditations that vary in time and are great for beginners. Then I go to my favorite nail salon and get a mani/pedi—and I always add in a 15 minute massage. It makes such a difference! I drink lots of water and spend some time by myself. I usually have a journal close by because I find ideas come to me when I’m quiet. It’s an easy reset I can do whenever I need it and I always feel better afterward." —Steph, 36
3. Create a folder on your phone filled with adorable puppy photos.
"The thing that makes me most happy in this world is dogs, so any activity that involves dogs instantly improves my mood. During the summer, I spend a lot of time at dog parks around the city. But for times when getting to dogs isn't possible, I also keep a folder of extremely cute photos on my phone. So whenever I feel a bit anxious or sad or just need a little boost, I can browse through the adorable puppers at my fingertips. Otherwise, trying new skincare products makes me feel infinitely better. And when all else fails, opening a bottle of wine always improves my mood." —Kelly, 26
4. Make plans with friends—simply looking forward to something can do wonders...
"When I need some love, I call friends, especially those who live far away or that I haven't spoken to in a while. Also, making dates to get together—something I can look forward to—cheers me up. This Valentine's Day I'll be with friends for dinner and a show, which will also be a celebration of my birthday. I'll be 80 on February 17." —Rosalie, 79
5. ...Or cancel all your plans!
"When times are tough, my first instinct is to reach for the Ben & Jerry's tub. Lately I've been trying to change my lifestyle to a healthier one, both physically and mentally. When I truly want to show myself some much-needed love, I cancel all my plans and sit down with a warm cup of black tea, light some candles and watch Friends. Sometimes I give too much energy to hanging out with friends instead of devoting some time to me. There's nothing wrong with a romantic evening all by yourself. It's a nice way to let the world drift away for a while and rejuvenate." —Shannon, 23
6. Go for a long walk.
"When I need to unwind in winter, I bust out my fancy Harney & Sons Earl Grey tea, curl up on the couch, turn on ’80s music and scour real estate websites, looking for my fantasy dream home. Sometimes, just focusing on something frivilous is the key to keeping relaxed! In the warmer months, I grab a Starbucks iced tea lemonade and go for long walks, usually down along the Hudson River. This is essential when I'm writing and stuck, too. Sometimes just getting out and moving is the key to moving past writer's block." —Karen, 40
7. Cuddle up to something soft (bonus points if it's a furry friend).
"When I’m feeling blue—especially from seeing what’s happening to children and animals on this planet—I seek a good cuddle to get me back on track. Since my grandchildren are miles away, I turn to my feline ‘child,' Bruce, a black and white tuxedo. Bruce has his little quirks and demands, so he requires a ‘cuddling ritual.’ When he’s called for a cuddle, he comes rushing over, but it’s a bowl of ‘niblets’ he’s hankering after, not a cuddle. Loud meows of disappointment ensue, on bad days even vicious clawing. I’ve discovered a way around this roadblock—after all, this is a negotiation between equals. I start my seduction by laying an old fuzzy pink sweater across my lap and tapping it invitingly. Bruce takes a little leap and proceeds to ‘knead’ the sweater with ‘furocious’ thrusts of his claws—like an experienced baker with a piece of dough—accompanied all the while by loud purrs. Having kneaded sufficiently he finally settles down, still purring, and I finally get my cuddle! Of course, food must be part of his reward, so he gets exactly three niblets—tuxedos tend to get urinary tract infections from gaining weight. And I, the human animal, having slaked my thirst for meaningful contact, go back to signing petitions for endangered species—both human and animal varieties." —Caroline, 73
8. Treat yourself like royalty.
"I have afternoon tea, ideally out somewhere nice such as The Plaza. But I don't have everyday Plaza tea money so sometimes I prepare my own tea. The ceremonial aspects of the tea experience absolutely delight me. Preparation—if I have tea at home—is a long, meditative process that includes assembling absurdly tiny cakes over the course of several days and setting a table with pretty mugs and real napkins. Cloth napkins, what an indulgence! Several different kinds of sandwiches! Who am I, the queen? Basically." —Sam, 31
9. Ask for help.
"I like to practice self-love through little things in my day. And as a new mom, it's even more important to me now! I know that if I'm feeling drained and tired I won't be able to give my best to my baby. So I make sure that I always have time for my cup of coffee in the morning because I LOVE coffee and I need that extra boost of caffeine to help me get through the day. I also think self-love is about asking for help from others. So if I'm getting overwhelmed, I ask my husband to watch the baby so I can go out and have a little 'me time.'" —Jessica, 32
10. Go against tradition.
"When a holiday comes around that is romantic in nature, I tend to be inspired to do less traditional things, like going for a walk across Central Park toward mid-town by myself. Even though the weather has been too chilly or slippery at my age of 75 years young, I tend to push the boundaries and will most likely head out to go for a good swim at my gym. Then, I'll take a hot shower and steam followed by a mud mask that I do myself at the gym." —Anna, 75
Thank you so much Danielle, Steph, Kelly, Rosalie, Shannon, Karen, Caroline, Sam, Jessica and Anna for sharing your thoughts on self-love. I love you all!
Happy Valentine's Day, my dear readers! I'd love to know: What does self-love mean to you?
P.S. The silky bomber jacket at the top is from Free People.
Photograph by Carrington King