This post originally appeared in February 2012.
Today, whether you’re partnered or single, male or female, gay or straight or any shade of inbetween, let’s all take a moment to show ourselves some love – you don’t have to do anything drastic. Just offer yourself a simple gesture of affection that reminds you: “I am worth my own love. I am worth my affection.”
Pick any one, or more, of these suggestions to give yourself a little love this Valentine’s Day.
1 – Touch your body with kindness.
Being cruel to our bodies is so habitual we don’t even think twice about how we pinch, poke, prod, and push ourselves out of the way; but just for today, when you touch your own skin for any reason, just think, “I love you.” Reach up and touch your face and feel your skin–that skin that holds you together, that faces the world on your behalf. Touch your skin gently today.
2 – Drink a glass of water.
Airy-fairy affirmations and stuff might not be your thing, but I bet you a dollar your body likes being hydrated. Go get a glass of iced water (or however you like it) and just drink it, and with every sip imagine the water running through your body and replenishing the cells that need it.
3 – Dare to eat a peach.
Get one piece of fruit, preferably something that takes a minute to peel and portion, and eat it, slowly, without doing anything else at the same time. Pick something juicy, something full of life – something you don’t normally buy for yourself, if you tend to go for utilitarian fruits like apples and bananas. You deserve a papaya today! But even if it’s an apple, just enjoy it – your body will enjoy taking all those lovely nutrients and making new bits of you out of them. Don’t eat the fruit as a “swap” or some other lame-ass diet thing – just eat a piece of fruit because it tastes good and your body loves good things from the Earth.
4 – Turn off the TV.
When was the last time you saw a commercial that didn’t try to convince you you aren’t acceptable the way you are? All you need to be happy is to lose weight, and all you need for that is Yoplait or Special K’s magic granola bars! Right? Even those Dove “Campaign for Real Women” ads, which are nice to see because they feature more body diversity, are kind of sad when you remember that the same company (Unilever) makes Slim-Fast. So turn it off. Or, at the very least, when you’re watching a show you love, hit “mute” during the commercials, or record it on DVR so you can fast forward through them. There’s never any reason to watch a commercial – you already have enough stuff, you already know where to buy yogurt. Even the funny ones get old after the first ten times you see them…so hit mute!
5 ~ Reframe just one thought.
Just one. Pick one thing you say to yourself often: “I can’t do ___ until I lose ten pounds,” “I’m a fat porker,” “Look at these jiggly thighs!” “My hairline keeps running away from my face!” and change it. Whenever you hear that thought in your mind, immediately pause, and very firmly, present yourself with a positive thought about that body part, that aspect of your personality, that issue. It doesn’t even really have to be related – just becoming mindful of how often you have these negative thoughts can help cut down on how many you have. Just pick one thing that your inner Evil Auctioneer likes to repeat at you and countermand it. Just one. You don’t have to change your whole way of thinking today; just pick one mean thing to stop saying to yourself.
6 ~ Tuck your tush and take a breath.
One of the fastest ways to feel better, calmer, happier, and more relaxed is something you’re going to do anyway: breathing. Because of how we sit all day, our hunched-over posture that puts pressure in all the wrong places, and the constant anxiety we live in, our bodies are stuck breathing in stress-mode: shallow, up in the chest, the kind of breaths a panicked animal takes. Stop. Sit up straight. Tuck your pelvis under – it’ll help straighten your spine and even out the flow of energy along your spinal column, plus it engages your leg muscles. Take five slow, deep breaths, focusing your attention on the expansion of your ribcage, your belly moving in and out – just breathe. Give your body some air! When you walk, imagine a gentle hand pulling upward through your head to straighten out your spine. Square off your shoulders. I call this the “walk like the good guys are marching you dramatically down a hallway” walk.
7 ~ Get up and dance.
If you’re somewhere you can take a moment, turn on one song – just one – and shake it for a minute. Just get up and move. Lengthen your muscles. Stand up and stretch upward, outward. You don’t have to “do a workout,” there are no reps required – just let your body unkink for a minute. Our sedentary lives do so much damage to our poor bodies as well as to our emotional well-being; your body was designed to move around! Let her! You don’t have to go all Lance Armstrong.
8 ~ Ditch your scale.
This one might be hard for a lot of you, but hear me out. That number on the scale is not a measure of your worth as a human being. It should not have the power to decide whether you’ll have a good day or a bad day. Do not give a household appliance that kind of power over you. Ditch it. Let your doctor weigh you if you really need to know, and go by how your body feels. If nothing else, stop weighing yourself every day – your weight is not a day to day constant, and obsessing over an ounce here and an ounce there leads to MADNESS. Trust me on this one. Give yourself once a week or better yet make it so you have to leave the house to weigh yourself. The best thing, of course, would be not to worry about that stupid number and just move and eat in ways that make you feel good, but even a single step in that direction will help you relax about your body. And we really, really need to relax about weight – shaming and hating and stressing over it is clearly not the solution, or we’d all be wraiths by now, right? Go back to #1: Touch your body with kindness.
9 ~ Look at something beautiful.
No, I’m not going to make you stand in front of a mirror – this is much easier. We spend a lot of time in really ugly environments – cube farms, offices, assembly lines, industrial kitchens – and deal with a lot of really ugly people (meaning ugly in how they behave). Switch your attention for a few minutes to something you find genuinely beautiful – a view of nature would be great, but even just a lovely pic on your desktop, a slideshow of images from somewhere in the world you want to visit, a painting you love. Take in some beauty today.
10 ~ Tomorrow, when you get up, ask yourself, “How can I show myself some love today?”
Ask yourself that same question every day, and whether you pick something off this list or make up your own, you’ll find that giving yourself a little love adds up in surprising ways.