When you think about it, flying through this turbulent life is no different to a plane in distress – when the masks drop, you must apply yours before attending to others.
Why am I talking about plane disasters in a Valentine’s Day article? Because it’s a great analogy to recognise that sharing love with others starts with loving yourself. If you do not care for yourself, you will run out of capacity to be there for the people around you – maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually, something will give.
It’s for this reason that I think ‘boycotting’ Valentine’s Day is in order. Apart from the fact that it is sensationalised by brands to encourage retail spikes, we are not given too many chances in our fast-paced society to take time for ourselves without the feeling of judgement or guilt. So, on 14 February, when everyone else is exchanging chocolates, flowers and jewellery, do yourself a favour and exchange commercialism for time; noise for clarity; them for YOU.
How to switch off negative thinking
We often carry around baggage from our childhood and teenage years, and don’t even realise that the thoughts we tell ourselves stem from a different time and place than where we are at now.
Those thoughts of not being good enough, of not fitting in, of being too shy or too overbearing – they shape the decisions and actions we take today. By taking a day for yourself, it’s possible to analyse your thought patterns and beliefs, and call yourself on them. Challenge them. Disrupt them.
To say goodbye to negative thinking, ask yourself “where’s the evidence?” If you can’t find the evidence, this opens up the possibility for an alternative option and you’re kind of forced to consider a different perspective. If you can, (our brain is good at finding evidence to reinforce thoughts), then don’t just accept that as the status quo. After all, that’s what you’ve been doing all these years. Ask yourself “where’s the evidence to suggest the opposite is true?” If you can find evidence here, again, you force your mind to accept that your initial thoughts might not be all that concrete.
Actions you can take towards self care and self love
Whether it’s for Valentine’s Day, your birthday or just a random Wednesday, here are some ways you can show yourself some love.
- Track a mood chart for a week – this can help you identify times of the day that you may be more susceptible to feeling lonely, stressed or angry and implement strategies to avoid or better cope, or it can reveal to you that you might be happy the majority of the time despite focussing on the few and isolated times that aren’t so good.
- Write in a journal – Expressing your emotions in a journal is often considered a cathartic exercise. Commit to daily entries or just write when the desire calls for it, but finding a pretty notebook or guided journal, picking up a pen and just writing what comes naturally can often result in your own free therapy session.
- Establish a mantra – Find a quote that inspires you – one that you can aspire to. The best mantras are the ones that you might not necessarily believe right now, but the idea is to repeat it over and over again until you’ve convinced yourself it is true. When it’s true – imagine the possibilities!
- Listen to uplifting music – one study revealed it takes an average of just 11 minutes to feel the benefits of music, and just 5 minutes to feel happier. Yes, the study was conducted by a music streaming service, but 7,500 people can’t be wrong! Create a playlist of music that reminds you of the good old days, that makes you want to dance and that empowers you, and belt out those tunes! My playlist has Abba’s Dancing Queen, Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman (Hear Me Roar) and Wham’s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. No judgement please!
So, set aside some time, grab a journal or kick off that play list and put your oxygen mask on. Your soul deserves some loving this Valentine’s Day.