Indeed, love is in the air this Valentine's Day, so why not celebrate that love with yourself? Self-love is about inner confidence and acceptance. It’s all about looking inside and feeling secure without external approval. Many university students may struggle with this, so it's important to know how to celebrate an oft-overlooked relationship on this special day: the relationship we have with ourselves.
1. Be present
When there is acceptance and gratitude, there is love. By practicing mindfulness, you allow yourself to live in the moment without judgment. In this manner, it is encouraged to be aware of your thoughts and react accordingly. Remind yourself that you are in control of your emotions; you're the only one who has the power to associate feelings to your thoughts. Sometimes feeling certain emotions can be difficult, but to feel is what makes us human. It’s important to recognize — rather than suppress — how you feel in any given moment. This allows self-awareness, rather than guilt. Choose activities this Valentine's Day that require focus, relaxation and patience: meditating to a relaxing love song, watching a favourite rom-com in peace or going for a refreshing walk.
2. Quiet your inner critic
Ruminating on negative thoughts often yields negative results and actions. To avoid this, simply accept that you are feeling a certain way, and move on with whatever needs to be done for the day. For mistakes, understand what went wrong, what you did well and how to improve, but also realize that it's not the end of the world. Though it is important to be honest, it’s equally as vital to be kind and encouraging. Head to the store on V-Day and enjoy that box of chocolates without guilt, savouring every scrumptious bite.
3. Healthy body, healthy mind
Food is linked to evoking different moods, feelings and emotions. But it isn’t necessary to adopt a specific diet or eat salads for all meals of the day; it is, however, important to include a variety of vegetables, grains, fats, fruits, proteins and treats in moderation. When you feed yourself quality foods, you feel good and more positive about yourself. Don’t forget about exercise either. Exercise has been consistently proven to increase mood and provide numerous health benefits. Love your body to love yourself: eat the colour of love this Thursday by incorporating some bright red berries, cherries or tomatoes in a new recipe.
4. Stress management
Stress is natural and doesn’t have to be shunned. However, a lot of university students struggle when it comes to dealing with it. There are many healthy methods to cope, but it’s about finding what you like best and being consistent with it. For some, it may help to call home to talk to a loved one, converse with a friend or talk with a counsellor. For others, taking action and partaking in movement helps. So if that midterm seems to be overwhelming or Valentine's Day doesn't seem to excite you, try meditating, exercising, journaling, playing an instrument, drawing or whatever enjoyable activities come to mind.
5. Daily self-checks
We are surrounded by and interact with other people on a daily basis, but it can be difficult to remember to communicate with ourselves as well. Take some time out of the day to relax and unwind alone. Think about how the day went, what you did well and what you can work on. It is important to reflect on your behaviours or attitudes to understand and appreciate yourself more.
6. Treat yourself
Last but certainly not least, reward yourself. This is important because the daily study or work grind can become redundant, potentially leading to exhaustion and demotivation. Rewards can help prevent burnout and vary in size and frequency. Try small daily rewards like a short nap, a hot cup of tea, a steamy bath or one episode on Netflix. Larger rewards can be weekly or even monthly, like going for a massage, hanging out with friends, going out for ice cream or going to a movie. Celebrate when there are things to celebrate to balance working hard. Celebrate V-Day by dressing up to look hot for yourself, take some cute pictures and explore new parts of the town or take a hot shower and jump in bed with The Notebook, some snacks and your favourite PJs.
There is no shame in unconditionally loving yourself. Valentine's Day is all about celebrating friendship and love, which are both essential components to a vibrant relationship with yourself. Go out for walks alone. Pick a table for one. Buy yourself roses. Self-love is a never-ending process, and it is a new type of romance because it will last forever if you let it.