Self-love. And self-care.

I have a confession to make: I don’t love Valentine’s Day. My heart can’t help but think of all of those who don’t have a Valentine, or can’t be with their Valentine. This year, I am shifting my thinking about Valentine’s day, in two ways.

First, I sent out a number of Valentine’s Day cards – to my single girlfriends.

Second, I am focusing on self love. After a challenging week, I am being extra kind, careful, and gentle with myself. I am implementing, re-implementing, self-love and self-care rituals.

Here is how.

I look at myself in the mirror and tell myself I am beautiful

My mother always told my sisters and me to look at ourselves in the mirror. To see ourselves. To observe, and embrace, the changes in our faces and bodies. While I still sometimes get carded for a glass of champagne, I don’t look like I am 21 anymore. I scrutinize myself in the mirror and embrace my 39-year-old face; the fine lines around my eyes remind me of how much I have laughed; my “freckles” (brown spots are two ugly words!) remind me of my time on Greek beaches. I look at myself and I tell myself I am beautiful. And stronger and wiser than when I was 21.

I take Nitika Chopra’s advice from Valentine’s Day 2014 and create a self-love ritual.

“Turn off the TV and unplug from social media for 15 minutes to get centered while self-pampering. My favorite way to do this is to moisturize my skin with intention. As I massage my feet I thank them for getting me to where I need to go; as I moisturize my hands I love them for all the transactions and introductions they’ve helped me with throughout my life.”

I perform an (not necessarily random) act of kindness.

Kindness is not merely altruistic, but something we all should practice for selfish reasons – because it makes us feel better. Being kind to others is like a gift to myself, it creates a mad rush of endorphins in my body and makes me feel good.

I schedule my self-care.  

The week of Valentine’s day, I always make sure I have one beauty or wellness appointment scheduled. A pedicure. My monthly eyebrow appointment. Even an annual medical checkup. Something that is good for me to do – for me. Something that I will thank myself for. When I look good, I feel good – and when I feel good, I do good. Sometimes I forget that I am my own priority… but not this week!

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