valentines day

5 Self-Care Ideas for Valentine’s Day

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Michaela Gansen, APSW, LGSW, PMH-C, Outpatient Therapist.  Valentine’s Day is associated with romance, but that doesn't mean it has to be romantic. Everyone has different thoughts and feelings about the holiday, however, self-care can always be added to your routine to improve your well-being.   Whether you are happily single, in a relationship, feeling lonely, or simply want a few extra ideas for ways you can improve your self-care game this Valentine’s Day, we’ve got you covered.  Related: Being Lonely and Being Alone: What’s the Difference? 

What is Self-Care? 

First, we need to define what self-care is. Contrary to popular belief, self-care isn't just treating yourself. According to the World Health Organization, self-care is “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”  It’s important to recognize that self-care involves taking responsibility; the ability to respond to circumstances under our control. We are our best advocates. To start, we can simply incorporate things one step at a time to develop self-care practices that boost our mood and strengthen our overall health. Related: 5 Quick Ways to Improve Your Mood 

1. Make a Connection  

Part of maintaining your overall health includes enhancing your mental health. If you’re feeling lonely this Valentine’s Day, there are ways you can foster relationships with others (not just romantic ones). As Michaela Gansen, Outpatient Therapist at Nystrom & Associates puts it:  
Many people experience loneliness on and around Valentine's Day. Connection is a core human need and should be supported, whether or not we have a romantic partner to celebrate Valentine's Day with. Make sure you are meeting your need for connection by having genuine interactions with another human.
Spend time with supportive people and make a connection. For example, this could include meeting up with a friend, calling a loved one, or making plans to share a meal or treat with a family member.  Related: How to Help a Loved One With Depression 

2. Be Kind to Yourself  

We all talk to ourselves throughout the day in our minds. In general, how are you speaking to yourself? Are most of your thoughts toward yourself positive or negative? These thoughts affect our self-esteem, which has a major impact on our mental health. The first step is to be aware of your thought patterns. Try not to judge them. Next, when you notice a negative thought, practice compassion. Flip the thought around and repeat it to yourself (whether you believe the new thought or not). For example, say you tripped, fell, and thought, “Wow I’m always so clumsy, I can never go a day without tripping over myself.” First, notice that thought, and then flip it to something like, “Every day, I am more coordinated and capable.” To learn more ways to improve your self-esteem, read How to Build Your Self-Esteem. 

3. Make Time for Reflection 

Self-reflection is a self-care practice that can strengthen our emotional intelligence and improve our ability to cope with challenges. To do this, make quiet time with yourself to reflect and turn inward. This could stem from more common forms of self-care, like journaling, taking a bath, or sitting with a cup of tea. Stuck on what to reflect on? Here are some questions/prompts to get you started:
  • What's a lesson you've learned recently?
  • What traits do you value in other people? Why?
  • How have you changed from the person you were 5 years ago?
  • What makes you feel at peace?
In addition, reflection can include writing a gratitude list, going for a mindful walk, or processing these questions with someone you trust. Related: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life 

4. Reduce Screen Time 

For many of us, looking at our phone, tablet, and television screens is a mindless habit. We stand in line at the store, wait for an appointment, or have "nothing to do" at home. Before we know it, we pull out our phones and open our favorite social media app. Our brains love this because it provides a hit of dopamine, the brain’s feel-good chemical. And with all these bursts of scrolling, screen time throughout the day can add up quickly. Overall, this habit is not conducive to self-care when used in excess. We all deserve to relax with our favorite shows or catch up with friends online, but it’s important to limit screen time. While easier said than done, our mind often needs an additional barrier to help reduce it. Try unplugging the television or putting screen time limits on your phone. Doing so will increase the friction surrounding it. For instance, now to watch television you’ll have to plug the TV in first, which might lead you to another activity instead.  

5. Create a Ritual 

Rituals are acts regularly repeated in an intentional manner. The key focus is the intention behind the ritual and doing the action in a similar way each time. Rituals don’t have to be anything time-consuming or “serious,” if you don’t want them to be. They can be part of your everyday routine or made into a meaningful self-care practice. For instance, some rituals include: 
  • Mindfully making your coffee 
  • Developing a meditation practice 
  • Having a game night 
  • Family dinner 
First, think about what you want your goal to be from it. Are you looking to calm yourself, quiet your mind, or build connections with others? Define the goal you’re looking for and build a ritual from there. And maybe you already know a period of time in your day you can incorporate a ritual, even if it’s in your commute to work.   Related: 3 Ways Meditation Helps Your Mental Health 

A Word From Nystrom & Associates 

While we can all implement self-care tips that improve our emotional, mental, and physical health, sometimes we need help. And that’s okay. Valentine’s Day can bring a wealth of emotions, or maybe none at all. There are people who want to support you, no matter where you’re at in life. For quality mental and behavioral health services near you, call 1-844-NYSTROM or make an appointment online today. Related: Valentine’s Day Mental Health Tips 

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