It is February and whether we want it or not, Valentine's Day is something we cannot fully ignore.

Some pay important attention to the 14th of February, booking hotels and romantic breaks. In the hospitality and retail industries, February is a huge opportunity to generate profit. Airlines work twice as hard and restaurants are fully booked. Sales of sensual lingerie, jewellery, cosmetics and flowers are doubled.

People's relationship with Valentine's Day, Christmas, Easter, etc. are often black and white, love or hate. But, I often think that while in the frenzy of such special dates, the deeper meaning of these is indeed lost in commercialism and shallowness.

I have never liked Christmas, just because I refuse to do what I have been told to do. Doubling in prices and overhyped vibe does not help either. I have negative feelings toward Valentine's Day, partly because of commercialism, and also being single for an extended period of time didn't help much. Every Valentine's Day made me cringe for years.

Regardless of being happily married now, I refuse to do what the majority is doing on this day and instead, I dedicate February to self-love. I am my own Valentine!

"You are always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company"

Diane Von Furstenberg

Self-care is self-love

Valentine's Day emphasising the importance of love and life and it really doesn't need to be about couples, kisses and red flowers. Love starts from the self and self-love starts from self-care. So, how about taking care of yourself, listening to your needs, nurturing your body & soul, and then spoiling yourself rotten? It doesn't need to cost money, and a partner is not necessary, unless you have one and you have pre-arranged it all.

There are plenty of options for self-love, and it will cost you nothing apart from saying "no" to your time & energy thieves (whether its work or Netflix).

Coming from the generation and culture where self-love is seen as an act of selfishness and where selflessness is applauded (even at the expense of oneself), I had no room for individuality and self-compassion. But years spent on my own in a big city had given me the best opportunity for self-discovery, self-reflection and self-love. From then on, I have discovered ways to take good care of myself , and I also started to explore many new things.

Having healthy self-love means that there is no need to justify to ourselves and others why we decide to enjoy a lazy day or take a vacation, nor why we buy the things we buy from time to time. We sometimes forget that these things can complement the quality and beauty of one's life.

Tips to self-love

  1. Being alone can be a wonderful opportunity to get to know yourself. It can really open many doors to many wonderful things, even if at that moment in time, you think otherwise. Acceptance of being alone is the first step to self-love.
  2. Being present in your body and respecting your body is also an act of self-love. Sometimes, our mind can take us so far that we get lost in what's right and wrong. Learning ways to getting back in touch with your body is a lovely grounding practice. Our body keeps us rooted to the earth. Physical activity is the easiest way to connect to your body, then comes meditation, where you bring awareness to yourself, feeling every inch of self. Everyone has different preferences, but it's about finding "your thing" and maintaining consistency. Personally, I love swimming, yoga, and cycling. These three make me happy.
  3. Connect with your heart through the things you love doing. In my case, its easily achieved. I have found that yoga does it all for me. It works both physically and mentally. Looking at art – whether its a film, photography or drawing – enhances my spirituality. Every time I see something beautifully made, I feel I have grown personally. The sounds of nature, fresh air, and the green outdoors have a clearing, detoxifying effect internally.
  4. Once you feel comfortable with being on your own and you have mentally prepared yourself to get spoiled, then the choice is yours: going to the cinema, buying yourself a bunch of flowers, cooking your favourite food, treating yourself to a nice bubble bath or inviting your favourite friend or family member around...
  5. Or, you can go out and buy something special, something that makes you feel or look special. Book a haircut, a massage or a facial!
  6. For advanced self-lovers, booking a holiday, a retreat or a workshop can be the ultimate form of self-love!

I have my checklist ready and cannot wait to ticking the boxes. This week will be a special one!

"When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn't healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits.. anything that kept me small. My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving"

  Kim McMillen