With the month of love in full swing, many are focused on love they give outwardly towards friends, family members, and partners. Rarely do we gift ourselves with a Valentine's day treat, a metaphorical hug, or words of compassion. And yet, self-love is integral in maintaining physical and mental health. Especially during cancer, when your body and mind experiences trauma and is challenged beyond the limits you knew you were capable of, self-love is paramount. And yet, self-love and self-care are all too often overlooked. While cultivating love and meaningful relationships is undoubtedly important, self-care is equally so. Here are some ways that you can be your own best Valentine throughout the month of February and beyond:
1. Do something you love
It may seem that there is little time for enjoyment amidst the everyday bustle of life, but there is always 5 minutes on a weekday to take a walk around the block, 30 minutes in the evenings to read your favorite book, or an hour on the weekend to watch your favorite show on Netflix. And if there truly is no time, perhaps taking something off of the to-do list is warranted. Make time to do something you love, no matter how big or small.
2. Focus on the present
Many of us are control freaks by nature, but as we all know, much is out of our control. Perseverating on the future and/or the past will do little to change where we are right now. However, savoring the moment will free us from shackling ourselves to what was and what could be.
We live in a world that is full of near-constant stimulation: social media, work demands, family obligations, never-ending traffic… the list goes on. Meaning that it becomes even more important to take a step outside of the business of it all. That may look like meditating for a few minutes at your work desk, limiting use of technology during certain hours, or creating work/life boundaries so that your professional obligations don’t impede upon your home life.
The benefits of exercise are indisputable. Integrate exercise into your life in meaningful ways: if you enjoy biking, bike. If you enjoy dancing, go do a Zumba class. If you enjoy hiking, check out a new trail. Even though the idea of exercise may trigger feelings of resistance, fear, and ambivalence, give it a try and work at your speed. Following the workout, all of your feel-good hormones will spike and give your physical and emotional being a much-needed boost.
5. Check In
Rarely do we pause to ask ourselves how we are really feeling (see distractions/ lack of time theory alluded to in item 3). As such, we can be detached from our emotional state. Further, we often “push through” to evade or “get over” difficult emotions. But part of self-love is loving ourselves in any feeling state; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Be genuine in your feelings of sadness, happiness, fear, excitement, and love; embracing those emotions completely and without judgment. When we give ourselves permission to feel fully, we are practicing love for ourselves in one of the deepest, most intimate ways possible.
So treat yourself to some chocolate, a heart-shaped card, and a little self-love this month, Valentine. You’ll be happy you did.