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The Gift of Self-Care: How to Be Your Own Best Valentine

Valentine’s Day is all about love. Traditionally, it’s a time to show the special people in our lives how much we care. But most of us forget to show some love to one very important person — ourselves!

Treat Yourself This Valentine’s Day

Self-care is an art form. It requires you to take notice of what you really need or crave in that specific moment. What nourishes you one minute may deplete you the next. That’s why the first step to truly taking care of yourself is simply to listen — to your body, to your mind and to your spirit.

Ideas for Self-Care

You deserve to treat yourself well. And it doesn’t just benefit you. It helps you be the best version of yourself, which — of course — is a gift to everyone around you. So, start on Valentine’s Day and then continue the whole year through. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Person asleep with sleeping mask on

1. Catch Some Extra ZZZs

Go to bed early, sleep in late or take a nap. Maybe even splurge on some things to help you sleep better like lavender oil or a weighted blanket, which both have been shown to help reduce anxiety.  Being well-rested gives you a boost in every possible way — a clear mind, more energy and a better mood.

Person holding bowl of cereal and fresh fruit

2. Eat Something Wonderful

Give your mind and body a burst of energy with nourishing food. Or if you’re someone who typically eats healthfully, maybe you’d like a little treat?

Relaxed looking woman looking out window with feet up on table in front of her

3. Be Responsible for No One and No Thing

If you’re a mom, this one may sound like a fairytale. But can you imagine anything sweeter than having even an hour of NO responsibilities? No guilt. No worries. Find a time when the kids are taken care of and let yourself off the hook. No housework, no errands, order dinner out… whatever it takes.

Person holding up to-do list

4. Check Off a “Nagging Item” from Your To-Do List

As great as it can feel to do nothing, sometimes it can feel just as great to be productive. If you’ve had something hanging over your head, finally getting it done can feel like a huge relief.

Closeup of person holding a mobile phone

5. Unplug

Always being “connected” is exhausting. Take an hour, or more, away from your phone, TV and computer. Read that book you’ve been meaning to get to or practice some yoga.  You may be surprised at what you notice when your attention isn’t being drawn away from what’s around you.

Woman watching tv and snacking on popcorn

6. Binge

Again, self-care is a highly personalized thing. While “unplugging” can feel great, sometimes binging on a favorite TV show, watching ridiculous YouTube videos or getting lost in the world of Pinterest is just the escape you need.

Man listening to music on headphones

7. Listen to Your Favorite Music

The great thing about music is that you can listen to it pretty much anywhere. Blast it in your car. Pop on some headphones while the kids are sleeping. Play it while you’re cooking. It can be upbeat or relaxing. Just choose what your body is craving.

Two friends baking together in kitchen

8. Spend Time with a Friend

Not all self-care has to be done alone. Humans are social beings. We need to connect with people and feel like we belong. Spending time with someone you enjoy is invigorating.

Person trying on high heel shoes and sneakers

9. Buy Yourself a Gift

When it comes to gifts, we always hear, “It’s the thought that counts.” But sometimes it’s the GIFT that counts! Don’t wait around for someone else to do it; treat yourself. Buy the flowers. Schedule the massage. Pick up that beautiful bracelet you’ve been eyeing. I’m not recommending “shopping therapy,” but a little treat once in a while can really brighten your day.

Person putting lipstick on while looking in compact mirror

10. Glam It Up (or Down)

Wear an outfit that makes you feel great. Fix up your hair. Get a little fancy with your makeup. Whatever makes you feel beautiful. Just make sure you’re doing it for you! Or, if your job demands a professional look all week, do just the opposite: spend the whole day in your jammies!

Closeup of feet up on the side of a bathtub during bubble bath

11. Do an At-Home Spa Treatment

You don’t have to shell out big bucks to feel pampered. Light some candles. Take a long, hot bath or shower. Do a facemask. Spend a little extra time putting on lotion. Paint your nails. You’ll look great and feel even better.

Woman laying on couch with dog licking her face

12. Cuddle with Fido

Spending time with pets is a proven stress reducer. So, get comfy and snuggle up with your best bud.

Person writing in notebook

13. Grow Your Gratitude

Gratitude is an interesting thing. The more you notice it, the more you feel it. Take some time to think about all the ways you’re blessed. Maybe write them down so you have something to look back on during the times you forget just how lucky you are. Check out this article for getting started on how to show more gratitude.

Person meditating with eyes closed on couch

14. Get Spiritual

There’s more to life than meets the eye. Do something that nourishes your soul. Read a spiritual book. Pray. Meditate. Attend a religious service, or convene with nature — whatever helps you feel connected with something bigger than yourself. Check out these apps for some help on finding your inner calm.

Person laughing while watching move in movie theater

15. Spend a night out

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a fun night out of the house. Whether there’s a movie that’s in theaters you’ve been wanting to see or a restaurant you’ve been hearing people talk about that you want to try, sometimes allowing yourself to have a fun night away from home is exactly what you need.

Person coloring in coloring book with colored pencils

16. Find your inner artist

No matter how creative you consider yourself, art is a great stress reliever. Try an adult coloring book, or if you’re feeling adventurous, go to a painting or DIY class.

Person looking through moving box of books

17. Get organized

Clutter is known to increase stress. While cleaning may not be at the top of your self-care to-do list, it will help you in the long run. This goes for your office too!

Smiling woman

18. Do What You Love

This one’s pretty obvious, but a little reminder never hurts. What makes you happy? Do you love to read? Work out? Bake? Whatever it is that makes you feel your best, do it!

Self-care is a small, yet important, part of helping your mental health. Learn more about caring for yourself and your mental health here.