(Inspired by Valentine’s Day, applicable All Year Long).
Ah, February 14th in commercialized American culture. As a child, the joy of the day came from waking up to a small pink gift bag adorned with a heart-shaped balloon and a tag that read “Love, Mom” resting at the foot of my bed, followed by pulling paper valentines fastened with Blow Pop lollipops and Fun Dip out of a small glittery shoebox at school. Garland comprised of pink and red hearts seemed to line every storefront window in town, and the smell of chocolate floated through the air as if somehow coming from scent emitters one could only find in Disney World (and yes, that’s a thing…sorry, Disney).
As I got older, the joy of Valentine’s Day came some from giving gifts to my significant others, but mostly from being showered in gifts, affection, and love by them directly. My sense of fulfillment came from others showing me how much they loved me…which you’d think would set me up to spend my first single Valentine’s Day in over half a decade throwing M&M’s at Rachel McAdams’ head while watching The Notebook for the 35th time, proclaiming that love isn’t real. But the truth is, I couldn’t spend my Valentine’s Day that way even if I wanted to because I know for sure that love is real. If there is anything that I learned from my break up, it’s that love exists abundantly within me, directly for me, fueling my body like a flame that has burned a little brighter each day since being on my own. If I wasn’t going to be shown love by someone else this year, I deserved to feel it coming from myself. And believe me when I tell you, no expense was spared.
For the three days following V-Day this year, I decided to show myself love, care, and affection in pretty much every way I could think of, and I put it all together in a comprehensive list so that you could do the same. Whether you are seeing someone else, or in a fully-committed relationship with just yourself, you deserve to spend a day (or two, or three) focusing only on the things that bring you joy. So, grab your planner and your prettiest pen, block out a few days’ time, and get to work building your Ultimate Self-Love Day/Weekend because they meant it when they said,”only when you love (on) yourself, can you truly love (onto) others.” 😉
- Manicure/Pedicure: There are few things more relaxing than dipping your feet into warm, bubbling water, and less more refreshing than getting your nails cleaned up, smoothed, and painted. So, go out to your nearest nail salon with your favorite book in hand (if you’re getting a pedi), and treat yourself to a fresh manicure and/or pedicure. (Then admire your hands and feet for up to 20 minutes afterwards. It’s only fair).
- Get Your Hair Done: When was the last time you had someone else wash and style your hair? Are you in the market for a new and exciting look? Do yourself a favor and finally book that hair appointment so that you can let your hair down (literally and figuratively) and feel refreshed, stunning, and brand-freaking-new on your Self-Love Weekend. Your mirror (and your ego) will thank you (not to say that your mirror is sick of how you look now, but something new would be fun, I’m sure).
- Book a Massage or Facial: Remember how I said that there are few things more relaxing than dipping your feet in warm, bubbling water? Yeah, this is one of them. No matter what your life is like right now, whether you are at an all-time high or feeling the lowest of lows, your body is inevitably holding onto tension that could use some relief. Check out your local spa and book yourself an hour or so of TLC for the body that you carry with you each day. It deserves it.
- Get Your Eyelashes Done: Okay, this one might be specifically for me, but I love getting my eyelashes done. I recently found a small, female-owned lash bar near me that I love, and had to include a visit in my self-love weekend itinerary. Not only is the act of getting lash extensions put on itself inherently relaxing — laying down, eyes closed for a few hours usually while listening to soothing music or podcasts — but when your appointment is over, you walk out with stunning, long lashes that are wink-ready from the second you wake up until the minute you fall asleep. It’s definitely a luxury, but oh man is it worth it.
- Buy Yourself Flowers: If you are someone who loves being hit with the smell of fresh flowers upon walking into a room, go out and buy yourself the most beautiful bouquet you can afford. You can pick some up at your local grocery store, or you can research local flower farms near you for fresh, customizable and more intricate bouquets. Either way, don’t forget to take a second to stop and smell the roses once you have them.
- Buy Yourself a Book: If you want to take a moment to escape from all the chaos in the world around you, buy yourself a new book and dive right in. Whether it be a self-help book, a mystery novel, or the literary version of your favorite movie, head to your local bookstore and pick up one or two books that inspire you. I personally went with How to Date Men When You Hate Men by Blythe Roberson, which is HILARIOUS…but you do you, boo. 😉
- Make Yourself Something Yummy: This year, I chose to make myself chocolate-covered strawberries. You could, however, whip up a family-sized serving of your favorite meal, or experiment by baking a new dessert for you to share with yourself. Whatever you decide, make sure to prepare your treat using a little extra TLC, since food always tastes better when mixed with a little bit of love.
- Go Shopping!: Raise your hand if it’s been an embarrassingly long time since you’ve bought yourself new clothes. If your hand is up, I want you to set a realistic budget for yourself ($50, $100, etc), then immediately take yourself shopping, either in stores or online. Buy yourself that new jacket, or a new pair of jeans, and allow yourself to admire how you look in the mirror while finally wearing that outfit that’s been on your mind, or a new one you hadn’t even thought of yet. You look gorgeous, darling.
Go on a Date
- With Yourself: Set aside a few hours of no interruptions, and take yourself out on a date. You could take yourself to a movie that you’ve been dying to see while stuffing your face with an extra-large popcorn that’s just for you, wander around your favorite bookstore with a warm latte in your hands, or cuddle up at home with a fuzzy blanket, a warm mug of tea, and that new book you just bought yourself from Category 2. Either way, make some time to spend one-on-one time with yourself. You should do this often.
- With your Pet: Do you have a furry animal that gives you serious TLC day-in and day-out? If so, spend a few hours doing something fun or rewarding with them to reciprocate their unconditional love. This Valentine’s Day, I took my dog on a snowy hike followed by a mini shopping spree at our local pet supply store, but you could do whatever you and your pet love to do best (and yes, cuddling for hours while watching Netflix also counts)!
- With Someone Else: “Single Valentine’s Day” does not have to mean “Lonely Valentine’s Day,” if you don’t want it to. Say yes to that date. Get dressed up, go out and have fun with someone new. Laugh, smile, and enjoy your time doing something you normally wouldn’t do. At the end of the day, you are on the date because you want to be, and there is nothing more self-loving than honoring the wishes of your own mind and body (and there’s nothing more fulfilling than having fun while doing so).
Give to Others
- Whether it’s a token of appreciation for your family members, your close friends, or the people who helped you accomplish the first 4 tasks on this list (nail tech, hair stylist, lash tech, etc.), give something back. Remember, gratitude is the key to happiness, and when we show our appreciation for others (especially when they least expect it), we inevitably cultivate goodness in the world and in our own lives. Give what you can; it’s the thought that counts!
So, there it is! Now you have twelve (12) options at your disposal for flooding yourself with love, kindness, and care, and there are still so many more that aren’t listed here. Take a day, or a weekend to tackle some of these items, and I promise you will not regret it. Seriously, after spending the weekend completing almost all of the items listed above, I can honestly say that this year I had my best Valentine’s Day as an adult, yet.
And somehow I still woke up to a small pink gift bag, adorned with a heart-shaped balloon and a tag that read “Love, Mom” resting at the foot of my bed. Love you, Mama 💖