What are you getting for Valentine’s Day? We know Valentine’s Day can get expensive: In 2021, shoppers said they plan to spend around $163 on the holiday, according to deals search site RetailMeNot, compared to just $85 in 2020.
But that’s one of the great things about Valentine’s Day gifts for yourself – some of the best (more on that below) cost nothing. It’s about showing yourself some self-esteem, which means appreciating your value or value, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
It helps you build self-esteem and self-worth, says Kate Evans, a licensed clinical professional counselor who runs her own life coaching practice, Soulful Space Coaching, in Elgin, Illinois. And with practice, you get better, she adds. “Self-love is like a muscle that needs to be exercised.”
And remember, while it’s great to start this on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 shouldn’t be the only day you practice showing each other love, adds Lauren Schapiro, Assistant Master. social worker and licensed psychotherapist at Liz Morrison Therapy in New York. “It’s something to try to practice and reinforce throughout the year.”
Below, you’ll find seven ways to show yourself some self-love. Treat yourself to one (or more) and let the good feelings wash over you:
1. A love letter to you, from you
It doesn’t matter if you’re going through a frustrating time in your life, a transitional time, or a happy time, you can benefit from a little self-love. Schapiro recommends writing yourself a letter stating what you are most proud of recently. “Whether you’re in a relationship or single, speak nicely to each other,” she says. It could be how you introduced yourself or a friend, or career milestones you recently achieved. The more specific you are, the better!
2. Happy time
Give yourself time to do exactly what would make you happy. It can take a whole day, a few hours or 30 minutes, whatever you have. “Ask yourself: what makes me feel loved and cared for?” says Schapiro – and do just that. (She recommends brainstorming ideas and making plans for this time before Feb. 14, so you don’t fill the time with anything else and have everything you need to make it happen.)
Prepare a treat that you like. Cook up a new recipe you’ve always wanted to try or make one that’s your favorite. Go for a long run and come home to a steaming cup of coffee (or morning hot chocolate). There is no right answer to what you should do, because it all depends on what brings you joy.
3. Unplanned time, without obligation, without a to-do list
Or set aside a block of time to do exactly what you feel like doing at the time. Free yourself from productivity expectations, says Evans. (If it can’t be on Valentine’s Day, schedule a day when it is doable.)
“We have expectations of ourselves that create stressors,” Evans says. Even though this is a list of things you like to do, planning too much can make you feel defeated if (and inevitably when) you don’t accomplish everything. Instead, this Valentine’s Day or whenever works for you, give yourself a block of time to do exactly what you feel like doing when the time comes, she says. Maybe it’s sleeping, ordering takeout, relaxing on the couch, taking a walk, or calling a friend. Just keep everything “must do” in mind.
Sit down and write one thing you’re grateful for this Valentine’s Day, suggests Evans. It can be anything, big or small. From how the grocery store had the juiciest, sweetest strawberries on sale to your nephew who makes you laugh every time you see him.
It’s a great gift to give yourself this Valentine’s Day because it helps your mind focus on the positive things going on in your life, which comes with all sorts of stress-relieving and uplifting benefits. for mood. Start it on Valentine’s Day, then make it something you do regularly. Habit will pay off: Gratitude increases life satisfaction, and more life satisfaction leads to more gratitude (and so on), according to research published in November 2019 in Frontiers in Psychology.
5. A personal pep talk you can come back to again and again
Self-affirmations – as defined by the American Psychological Association – are positive statements about oneself that are repeated regularly. They can help reverse negative thoughts and improve self-esteem. And Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to give yourself the gift of developing assertiveness that you can use year-round to maintain self-esteem and self-love, Schapiro says.
You can look online for examples and inspiration, but remember that self-affirmations are completely individual, says Schapiro. Pick one or two to come back to (or create your own) that you really believe in and buy into, says Schapiro. Use the notes feature on your phone to jot them down, so you can call them out and repeat them out loud when you feel like you need a little extra self-love.
6. Puppy Love
If you have a pet, make an effort to show it some love today, because you will find it. Research shows that canine hugs improve well-being, positive feelings, social connections and happiness, and decrease stress and loneliness compared to a condition where people were around dogs but did not interact with them by touch, found a study published in July 2021 in the journal Anthrozobone.
No pet? Sign up to volunteer at an animal shelter; after all, research published in 2018 in BMC Public Health showed that giving of his time also benefits his health.
seven. Laugh (we talk deep, like LOL)
Laughter really is a form of medicine. “Go do something that makes you smile and laugh hysterically,” Evans says. Listen to a recording of a comedian you love or go see one live. Pop on a movie or TV show that puts you in stitches. Or call a friend and recount a shared memory that now makes you both laugh.
Research published in the July-August 2016 issue of American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine have shown that laughter is a real stress reducer. “Be silly and silly. It basically distracts your brain, but it also feeds the part of your soul that might feel a little neglected today,” Evans says.