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How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? I have seen this holiday trigger reactions at both ends of the continuum. Some people embrace all that is red and pink, while others can’t wait for it to be over. Regardless of which camp you fall into, I’d like you to think about Valentine’s Day in a different way this year – not just as a blatant reminder of a lack of companionship OR solely as a way to immerse yourself in all things romantic. Instead, I’d like you to also think about what it means to act lovingly toward yourself.

Life can be overwhelming at times. If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, or feeling stressed by juggling too many things at once, it’s easy to forget about taking care of YOU. For many of us, our jobs, spouses, children, aging parents, or even hobbies take priority. It’s easy to focus on these people and things because you need to or want to, but it’s important to leave room for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day.

Here are some ways to show yourself a little love during this holiday dedicated to amour:

  1. Think of 3 things you love about yourself. We all have flaws, and people struggling with anxiety or depression are usually excellent at acknowledging them. Give a shout out to your strengths instead. Maybe you’re a great friend, or have mad breakfast making skills, or a voice sort of like Adele. Enjoy it, be grateful for it, smile about it, and give yourself a little pat on the back.
  2. Move your body. Not because you want to fit into smaller clothes or win a race, but because it’s good for you. Exercise is like a love note to your body and your brain – from you.
  3. Practice . Harboring anger and holding on to past grievances can eat you up inside. Letting go of anger is a gift to the other person but also, and more importantly, to you.
  4. Have fun. Just because you’re older than 12 doesn’t mean everything has to be serious. Laugh aloud, do karaoke, play a board game, have a dance party in your kitchen.
  5. Reward yourself. Maybe you reached a goal you’ve been striving for, or maybe you just made it out of bed this morning (and that may have been a big accomplishment for you). It doesn’t have to be something big or fancy, but go ahead and splurge on the latté, the hot bath or an extra 20 minutes of your favorite show.

We can get hard on ourselves when life gets busy and everyone and everything is competing for our time. It is precisely during those times when those of us struggling with anxiety or depression need to take a step back, breathe and think about our own needs as well. This Valentine’s Day don’t forget to show some love to yourself.