The other day, I realized we have Valentine’s Day to celebrate our lovers, Galentines’s Day to celebrate our friends, but how come we don’t have a day to celebrate our love for ourselves? No self-entines or Me-times Day? Then it hit me—because one day wouldn’t be enough. Every single day is meant to be a celebration of life, and an expression of self-love.
Lately, I’ve been noticing that I haven’t been making much time for myself; however, as my self-love guru Tara Schuster reminded me, I make time for my job, my friends, my family, my boyfriend, each and every day. So why can’t I also carve out some time for myself? In spirit of this new revelation, I decided to commit to doing one or more acts of kindness for myself for the fourteen days leading up to Valentine’s Day. Essentially: 14 Days of Self-Care.
I have to confess. I cringed just typing that, solely because I have grown to resent the term “self-care.” It has become such a buzz word throughout social media to the point where I think it has almost lost all of its intended meaning. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little illustrations on Pinterest labeled “Self-Care Tips,” but they’re typically all along the same lines: light a candle, put down the phone, take a bubble bath, etc. (If one more social post tells me to take a bubble bath when I am stressed, I may actually scream.) And the saddest part? For a while, there was a time in my life where I filled my tub and poured in as many vanilla scented bubbles as possible, and thought, “Yeah, yeah. I just need a bubble bath. I’m gonna climb in, get all sudsy, and all my worries will just melt away and get sucked down the drain, never to be seen again.” In reality? I would curl up in a ball, trying not to look at my belly rolls, and sit, watching the bubbles melt away instead of my worries, until the water got cold and my fingers were all pruney.
Maybe this isn’t the case for you, and you’re currently shaking your head at your phone from the sudsy haven of your tub. However, for me, self-care is much more than that, and not always so...“Instagramable.” Self-care is not always the pretty, lavender and flower petal-filled bathtub, or a face mask (that somehow the models on Insta make look cute?), or even a lit candle. I hate to break it to you honey, but no amount of candles you light in your room can burn away what you’re dealing with. No amount of essential oils can ward off your demons, or hide the stench of despair. Self-care is hard freakin’ work, which means it can get ugly. It is doing some serious self-reflection to figure out what you really need and taking action to provide that.
For me, this month provided me the opportunity to go the extra mile to relax a little and carve out some time to actually do things I enjoy. Aside from treating myself to some of my favorite desserts and some skin exfoliation, I faced some not-so-sexy self-care as well. I made SO many doctor’s appointments I had been putting off, I went to my first ever therapy session, and I let myself cry, like a lot. And I’m not talking like Rachel McAdams: beautiful, silent tears cascading down a perfectly structured face. I’m talking nose running, tissues piling, gasping for breath, ugly sobs. As a classic emotion-bottler, I find a good cry is one of the best forms of self-care for me. It is a way for me to release the emotions I’m feeling, and be able to move on and handle them properly. Otherwise, the pressure becomes too much and I end up exploding unexpectedly like when you put Mentos in a coke bottle in 8th-grade science. I cried when I missed my boyfriend so much it ached. I cried happy tears when T$ commented on my Instagram post. I cried sad and happy tears multiple times while watching To All the Boys: Always and Forever (rom-coms man, they get me). And man, it felt goooooood.
Without further ado, here are my 14 days of dating myself, treating myself, and yes, self-care:
Day 1: Face Mask
Like I said, face masks can’t cure all your problems, but sometimes your skin deserves a little self-love too. For some reason, I never think to pamper myself anymore, but I am going to make a point to do so because it’s amazing how even a one-dollar mask from Target can make an average Monday feel a little special. It also made me realize that, Wowza! My skin has been crazy lately. I booked myself the dermatologist appointment I’ve been pushing off forever. Look at me, adulting.
Day 2: Restorative Yoga
After completing my 30-day yoga challenge, and continuously doing my PT exercises for my knee daily, my body feels like it got hit by a truck. It was both emotionally and physically healing to slow down and just get a nice stretch in. This was also an emotionally exhausting day for me, so during Shavasana, I let myself cry, releasing all the emotions I was trying to keep together fall apart on the mat. But when I stood up, I left them there and walked away feeling restored.
Day 3: Love Letter to Myself
There is nothing I love more than writing letters to the people I love most in my life. There’s just something that brings me joy by putting my thoughts on (very cute, themed) paper to send to someone as a little surprise to make their days a little brighter. So I thought, why not do that for myself? I think it’s important to recognize how you show love to others and show love to yourself in a similar way.
Day 4: Bubble Bath
“BUT YOU SAID…” I know, I know. My dear friends, my previous statement still stands. I found no secret cure to sadness or stress at the bottom of my bubbles; I will not pretend that is the case. That being said, I know why everyone recommends bubble baths in their self-care tips because damn it, they are indeed relaxing. Here’s a secret that took me a while to learn: the cure doesn’t lie in the bath salts or the rose petals. It comes from spending time alone with yourself. That’s where the real magic lies. Whether you do that submerged in warm water, in a meditation pose, or with your daily cup of joe, it doesn’t matter. As long as you don’t approach a bubble bath as the special potion to wipe away all your life’s issues, but rather a time to relax and reflect, then, by all means, soak away.
Day 5: Buying Flowers for Myself
This is one of my favorite ways to treat myself. Fun fact: I used to work in the flower section at Costco, and after working a long shift, I would love to pick out my favorites to take home. I have never regretted spending ten bucks on a bouquet of flowers that brighten up my room, makes me feel special, and makes me smile every time I see them. There’s something super empowering about buying yourself flowers; I could absolutely wait until the next time my sweet boyfriend surprises me with flowers, but sometimes, I want to buy them for myself because I damn well can.
Day 6: PUPPY YOGA
Early in the week, I saw that Ghost Coast Distillery was partnering with Coastal Pet Rescue to host a yoga class with some of their rescues. Free alcohol, puppy pets, yoga, and all of the proceeds go to the shelter? Ugh, sign me up. Nothing brings me more instant joy than happy puppers. I will admit that even though I was very excited for this event, I was also very nervous. Not only am I always nervous to go out during the pandemic, but I have also somehow become more socially anxious/awkward during quarantine. Not to mention, group exercises always make me tense and scared to make a fool of myself. I was afraid to go by myself and considered backing out. But I didn’t. In the end, I was very glad I encouraged myself to go as a treat to myself. I loved laughing as the dogs ran in circles around my mat and underneath the bridge of my downward dog. I was also proud of myself that I was actually keeping up with the class! Looks like at-home yoga has been paying off.
Day 7: MIRROR AFFIRMATIONS
This is a self-care recommendation I have never tried before because it always felt kinda silly to me; however, now I see why I thought that way. Compliments are something I have always struggled receiving, let alone giving them to myself. I was pleasantly surprised to find there were a lot of nice things I wanted to say to the mirror, and I enjoyed rereading them every day as I got ready for work. It really made me feel like I wasn’t alone; like the voice inside my head was my teammate, rather than my frenemy.
Day 8: MANICURE
I used to love doing my nails in college. I guess it just made me feel like I had my life together if my nails were painted. If it’s such a simple way to make me feel put together, why did I stop during quarantine? It’s like when the world went crazy, I forgot how to take care of myself. I am working on slowly but surely incorporating these simple self-care tasks back into my routine.
Day 9: READING DATE WITH MYSELF
As you probably figured out by now, I love to read. During college, I strayed away from this love of mine. I didn’t have any time...or so I thought. This year, I have done a great job of rekindling that passion I have for reading, by committing to read 30 minutes every day. Oftentimes, I find when my reading timer goes off, I want to keep going, but I force myself to bookmark my page and move on to write for my blog or do some other productive task. Not tonight. Tonight I went wild. No book timer for me.
Day 10: RED VELVET CUPCAKES
Why do I only treat myself to one of my all-time favorite sweets during Valentine’s Day? Who says red velvet is only for the month of February? Let’s change that. Baking has always been super therapeutic to me; and yet, I deprive myself of this fun because once the sweets are made, I cannot keep myself from eating them. Let’s be honest, licking the batter off of the spoon is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Every once in a while, we must indulge in life’s little pleasures.
Day 10: MEDITATION PRACTICE
I’ve been doing a great job keeping up with my New Year’s resolutions, but somehow, meditating for five minutes every day has slipped under my radar. It’s amazing how much our mental health seems to be the first to easily slide off our to-do lists. I am putting it back on my to-do list at the top, bolded and underlined. The calming effect meditation has on me should not be pushed to the side or undermined.
Day 11: FORT NIGHT
Okay, so I will admit when I first planned these 14 days, I intended on getting outside much more; but it has rained for 14 days straight here in South Carolina. In a way, I am glad because it caused me to get a little more creative in my own home. Building this fort is the most fun I’ve had by myself in awhile. It was so cozy and I loved treating myself to an extremely cheesy, over-the-top rom-com that I rarely indulge in anymore. There’s something magical about forts that make you feel like you’re a kid again, in a way I would love to bottle up and open anytime I am tired of being an adult… so essentially, every day.
Day 13: FONDUE
Is there a greater form of self-love than dipping various tasty treats in chocolate? Trick question, the answer is no. Fondue was the perfect pre-Galentines day treat for myself. I also didn’t realize how much a Zoom call with some of my best girlfriends from college would be a form of self-care in itself. Sometimes, I forget how much I miss social interaction, and I hope I can make a habit of face timing my friends more often.
Day 14: DRESSING UP FOR NO REASON
I haven’t worn jeans in months, let alone a dress. I NEVER thought I would complain about wearing leggings and a hoodie every day, but here I am. I despise doing my make-up (and I know I am terrible at it). But there is something about putting on a nice outfit and doing my makeup and hair that makes me feel like a human being again, and dare I say, beautiful? Yes, it makes me feel beautiful. Even when I am just sitting around the house all day, devouring all the chocolate I can find.
I’ve quickly learned that self-care is different for everyone because, surprise, everyone’s needs are different. I hope my 14 days of self-care inspires you to do something nice for yourself today, (maybe even tomorrow too), and maybe, just maybe, every day for the rest of your precious life. Maybe it’ll even inspire you to ask yourself, “What type of self-care is good for me? What do I need?” When you come up with an answer, let me know what it is. I’m dying to hear.
All my love.
What I'm Reading:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy - Making my way slowly but surely through this one. McCarthy has a different writing style I’m not used to, but I am starting to get adjusted and my interest is peaked. My long-distance bestie and I have started our own little book club. This is the book we chose this month. When we finish we shall make festive cocktails and discuss. I cannot wait.
What I'm Listening To:
Disney Soundtracks - I am actually taking a trip to Disney this March with my boyfriend and his family and am very excited to just let loose and be an extra hygienic child. Belting it out to the classics like “I Won’t Say I’m in Love,” “Part of Your World,” and “How Far I’ll Go,” is getting me so hype.
What I'm Watching:
Netflix’s To All the Boys: Always and Forever - Yes, this was the cheesy rom-com I treated myself to for V-day. Is it completely corny and over-the-top dramatic? Yep. Did I cry multiple times and enjoy every second of it? Heck yeah. High-key love Noah Centineo and Lana Candor’s chemistry on camera. And I cannot stop humming their song to myself. LJ + PK = FOREVER.