Words: Darnell Darby & Noor Shehata
Graphics: Magdalena Kincaid
Every month has special holidays or markers that tell us how to act and feel. December has Christmas, October-Halloween, April has Easter, and January has the honor of being the first month of the new year AKA society's beacon of personal development hope. Each January we're expected to be possessed by some transcendental "sprit of revival" that's supposed to realign our chakras and magically make us our best selves. The pressure that comes with some of these holidays can be overwhelming. Valentine's day has most of us split down the middle, acting as the bane of existence for one half and a celebration of love for the other.
In truth, St. Valentine's day is a manufactured holiday that we've ascribed a kind of superficial meaning to. Don't get me wrong, love is our greatest strength but there are all kinds of love that we need to start celebrating and the first kind is self-love.
How should one plan this celebration of self? When in doubt, treat yo' self. Personally, my saving grace of Valentine's day is the chocolate that goes on sale the day after because well, chocolate but that doesn't necessarily have to be how you treat yourself. A few days before make a short list of little pleasures that you enjoy but may not get to indulge in regularly. Choose a few and write down how long you think each activity will take.
Once you've done this there's nothing left to do but clear your schedule and eagerly anticipate the day. Whenever I'm enjoying "me time" I disconnect from social media because it usually distracts me and before I know it I am dedicating my time to someone else.
So the day has come and gone and you're still possessed by that "spirit of revival" and want to turn that day of self-love and care into a lifestyle but are unsure of where to start.
Whenever our start your day, whether it's first thing in the morning or in the middle of the afternoon make sure you are putting first things first. We are most productive and focused directly after we've woken up so dedicating that time to doing the hardest tasks will really set the tone for the rest of the day. You've given yourself the boost you need to keep that momentum going.
Another good way to set that positive mood is to get those endorphins flowing by exercising. Make a list of your preferred physical activities, create a playlist with your favorite songs and get moving.
Optimize Your Living Space
The spaces you spend most of your time should be set up the way you like it. Feng Shiu is the ancient Chinese practice of arranging a room or designing a house or building in a way that will create productive and peaceful surroundings. Have you ever tried to do work in a messy room and or gotten flustered because the one thing that could make your day better has inexplicably gone missing? Whether it be your room, your car or your desk at work make sure wherever your spending your time is designed to surround you in that upbeat energy.
Conserve Your Energy and Protect Your Time
Speaking of energy, please conserve yours. Be mindful of who you allow into your space. Take the time to really think about the people in your lives and what they bring to it. Being around supportive people who genuinely love you for who you are can make a huge difference so conserve your energy for those who deserve it because if there's one thing you can't get back, it's your time.
Tell The People You Love That You Love Them
I'm sure we can all agree that it's nice to feel appreciated so why not take the time to tell your support system just how much you appreciate them. Send the people in your life that you care about most occasional text messages telling them just how special they are to you. Or show them you care in other small ways like grabbing them their favorite drink on your way to meet up or getting the bill at lunch. Whatever the action is, showing them you love them not only strengthens your bond but will also make you feel better about yourself.
Our ability to love and to accept love from others starts with our ability to love ourselves. With that said, the practice of self-love is a lifelong one so be patient and enjoy the journey to the center of yourself.