Valentine's Day is an overwhelming holiday. If you're not in a relationship, it can be depressing or downright obnoxious. If you are in a relationship, it can be expensive, overdone, and stressful (also: obnoxious). There's a sense of keeping up with the Joneses, too. How extravagant was the dinner, the bouquet of roses, the box of chocolates?! (Insert emoji with its tongue sticking out here.) Don't get me wrong, love is a wonderful thing. Finding someone who gets you and adores you is one of the best things in life. But it's not the most important thing. It's not the only thing. (Duh!)
On Galbraith, I'm starting a new tradition. February is going to be about love and romance alright, but love for yourself. Self-love. I don't know a lot, but I do know loving yourself is essential to enjoying life and getting through bad days. Loving yourself is a conscious thing. It takes effort. There are days where loving yourself (or even liking yourself!) can be really hard. (Like this past Tuesday? I was feeling all kinds of panic about my future, and being super critical of myself. Not self-love!)
Let's make February the time to ever so slowly change that around. Maybe this sounds hokey to you? That's ok. It is a little hokey. But I'm nearly 30, y'all, and there's never been a better time than right now for me to embrace myself. Literally. (I'm giving myself a big hug right now.) Today, stop for a minute, find a quiet place (your bedroom, a bathroom stall) and give yourself a hug. As big of a hug as you can give. Touch is very important. Be glad you have you. After all, in the end, you are all you have! (That sounds depressing, but it's really quite empowering if you think about it!)
To start this, er, journey of self-love (I know, high cheese-factor), step one is giving yourself that hug. The next step is identifying the little things you do for yourself that bring you joy. And doing them a lot. (For me, that's a night where I can dance around my apartment to Taylor Swift and make a delicious meal. Probably with some red wine involved.) Not sure what little routines make you happy, or maybe you're looking for some new ones? Take a page from the 11 lovely people below. I am so excited to share the ways they give themselves a little love (sudsing up with lavender-scented soap seems to be a winner!). They're some of my favorite people (and dear friends), and I hope you follow their lead and get inspired. You'll see there are a ton of ways to take care of you!
"I'm very much a lover of good company. My idea of sharing happiness is hosting and cooking or baking up a feast for my friends. However, if I have a day to myself, my favorite thing to do is grab a book, find a coffee shop that has pots of tea, find a comfortable nook, and just enjoy my time to myself. In a way I'm enjoying a piece that someone put a lot of love into, and there's something amazing about that." Kate, 29
"Taking a hot shower and using a fragrant body wash (I love lavender scents!), followed by a cup of tea and a book (or TV show) make me feel like I can breathe after a long day at work. I recently took up a daily yoga practice (thanks to Yoga with Adriene); it has helped improve both my mind and body. The self-love mantra seems to be ingrained in Adriene's videos. It's something I look forward to every day!" Jenn, 28
"I like to spend a day by myself cooking, drinking tea, listening to music, reading, and generally slowing down and checking in. I also really like to shop by myself, so sometimes I just stroll through my favorite stores seeing if I can find any hidden treasures." Laura, 26
"The concept of self-love is something I began to practice only recently. Not that I didn't believe I deserved it in the past, but I never really took the time or recognized it as a priority over work or everyone else. So the first thing I do when I need self-love is give myself permission. I tell myself I'm allowed to feel whatever I'm feeling and do what I need to do to take care of myself. The next step is actually doing those things, which is harder than it sounds. Some simple things that work for me are getting a mani/pedi (this always feels like such an indulgence and I have a lot of fun playing with colors) and going on a reading or Netflix binge. Sometimes I really just need to zone out and escape into a good story. And when I finish a book or series I feel inspired, which is great for getting out of a funk." Denise, 29
"I take a shower with jasmine or lilac soaps—super calming—and change my outfit. It's hard to get out of a funk without starting over, and for me, putting on new clothes is like pushing the reset button on my day. It helps me get a fresh perspective. [Sometimes] I'll call a close friend or family member. Talking to someone who loves me and is supportive in my life reminds me of all the reasons I should love myself." Melissa, 26
"For me, self-love [is] finding a sense of peace and calm when everything else around me feels overwhelming. I'm able to find that calm when I listen to music, write, or talk things out with someone who I know cares about me. Ultimately, it comes back to having someone or something reflect the sense of calm back to me." Vivian, 23
"I eat all of my favorite foods: bacon in the morning, sushi for lunch or dinner, or Indian food like chicken tikka. I also make myself look really good. I'll wear my favorite outfit, I might get a haircut or a professional shave. I also like being outside. I feel blessed to have Prospect Park so close to my apartment. Riding my bike there is heaven. In terms of Valentine's Day, for awhile I would invite all of my single friends to get chicken wings and beer. The Facebook event was called 'A Different Kind of Heartburn.'" Mitch, 27
"Time to myself is incredibly important, but I know I don't prioritize it nearly enough. Once in awhile, after a busy week at work, I make sure to clear my Saturday so I can sleep in, go for a leisurely run in Central Park, and then do my favorite thing—write in a coffee shop. I bring my notebook and go to one without wi-fi so it's just me and my thoughts, no distractions. Sometimes I end up writing a lot, sometimes I just listen to music. This simple routine, which is really just about treating myself to alone time, is enough to clear my head and start my weekend on a relaxed note." Sara, 25
"I never really went about anything thinking I need to do this for me in an act of self-love. But it struck me, I sort of have my own tea ceremony, especially when I use loose tea leaves. I brew it for a very specific length of time and I like to take my time drinking it. Tea for me is never really for the caffeine, it's about the fact that drinking a perfectly made cup relaxes me. Allowing myself to sip and single out each flavor tests my taste buds and lets me forget about other worries. I also recently started meditating. I like to use the guided meditation on an app I'm trying. It takes you step-by-step though the meditation. Doing that helps me in that moment, but also throughout the day, giving me a touchstone of sorts so I have that calm inside of me, [and it reminds me] not to lose sight of that on crazy days." Maddie, 29
"Most of my life, my definitions of self-love have been dessert, whether it be chocolate-chip cookies, brownies, or any delectable chocolate thing I could find. I put it in my mouth and I feel comforted. I know now that self-love doesn't have to be comforting, it can be whatever you want it to be. I just started wall climbing at a gym, something I never thought I would do. Yet somehow I find myself there every Tuesday and Thursday trying to conquer a wall. I leave feeling this intense sense of accomplishment, pride, and exhilaration (Yay me!). So self-love to me is doing something I never thought I could do or would do that challenges my mind or body... and chocolate, of course." Anna, 28
"I treat myself to a fresh bouquet of flowers each week that I arrange in a vase in my room. I've always loved the smell and sight of pretty blooms, and it's a little signal to myself each time I catch sight of them that, well, I'm worth it!" Michelle, 26
Thank you to Kate, Jenn, Laura, Denise, Melissa, Vivian, Mitch, Sara, Maddie, Anna, and Michelle for sharing their awesome self-love routines! Now, I want to hear what you do when you need a bit of self-love. Tell me in the comments below!