Almost 21 years ago, when we still lived in a super small town in New Zealand, my brother’s friend asked me on a date.
He wanted to know what I did to relax, and I wanted to sound cool, so I told a white lie. I said that I liked walking on the beach, and reading books on the beach. He then asked me to go walking on the beach with him on that Valentine’s Day. (if you saw the beach I am talking about you would totally get a chuckle as you would know it is not the romantic kind of beach at all…). As luck would have it, I had to respond to the invitation with a regrettable ‘I would love to go, but I’m working that day’, and we postponed it to the 15th instead.
Almost every year I find myself still unable to do anything romantic on the 14th because, after all this time, the problem seems to be the same: I am always working on the day.
Maybe it’s the rebel in me that secretly wants to boycott the economic machine that Valentine’s Day has become. If I’m truly honest though, I have to admit that while I KNOW the importance of self-care and self-love, and I’ve seen the terrible impact self-neglect has on a person’s health, I still slip up and prioritize almost everything and everyone else over my own self-care.
For the last few years, in particular, I have put much more effort into looking after myself and filling my own cup before topping everyone else up. It sounds pretty selfish, and initially, I had to work through the feelings of guilt that came along with taking time for myself.
I felt that my husband, (yes, the guy who took me on that rugged beach-walk date 21 years ago) would think I was being selfish and not giving enough to our family. I worried that when I took the time to look after ‘me’, I was stealing time from my children. I felt that when I said no to a client it would have a negative impact on my business. And heaven forbid saying no to my team; if I didn’t help them every step of the way they’d crumble, wouldn’t they?
Now I realize that I am a much better wife, mother, daughter, and sister when I practice self-care. I’m also a MUCH better person to do business with, because when I do say yes, I have the mental space to fully commit to the task at hand. This comes from a hard-earned place of ‘calm’ and is infinitely better than f being too thinly spread, and distracted by all the things I’m not getting to.. I’ve also discovered that my team is far more capable than I give them credit for, and when I let them go it alone, they soar.
Realizing these things has been so beneficial for me because it’s shown me how to make room to focus on the things I am good at.
So what is self-care and self-love?
Everyone approaches it in a different way.. My interpretation is that you don’t need to have crazy rituals that take hours and hours. Skin is my forte, after all, and I have some handy tips on how you can leverage your skin care routine to also serve as self-love time.
Skincare is not only the daily habit of a cleansing routine to get the product off your face. The intent you do it with can transform it from a chore into an uplifting opportunity for self-love.. Whether you take 5 or 15 minutes to cleanse the dirt, dust and debris of daily life off your skin, do so with positive self-talk in the mirror. We all like to hear nice things from others, but you must be your own fan!
Your positive self-talk could be affirmations of things you like about yourself physically, or affirmations to improve your self-image.
Positive self-talk example:
As you remove your eye makeup in front of the mirror, say out loud: ‘You have beautiful eyes,’ while looking yourself in the eyes.
Positive affirmation examples:
‘You are smart’, ‘You are a great leader’, ‘You are the best mother’, ‘You are wife of the year’.
Extend that to a weekly ritual, by adding a gentle exfoliant with a vitamin mask to your Friday evening, and perhaps enjoy that bubble bath while you’re at it. If you have kids, you’ll definitely need the soak! So ask your partner for 30 minutes of alone time.
Not only will your skin love you for it, but relaxation has a ton of health benefits that your body, and mind will be thankful for.
Of course, there are many other things you can do and focus on to fill your cup: exercise, good nutrition, massage, even having your hair done. The list goes on. Most important is being mindful of taking, or making, time for self-care, perhaps even prioritize yourself a little bit.
So this year, while our 21st Valentine’s day is bound to slip us by again, it doesn’t really matter, because my darling husband regularly distracts the kids to give me the space I need for my self-love. And I create the same space for him.
The reality is that in order to help others you must put your own ‘oxygen mask’ on first. Put it on, take a breath, and then conquer your world. Do it the other way, and you won’t have the energy or capacity to help the way you want to.
Everyone deserves great love this Valentine’s, make sure you are first in line to receive some loving from YOU, and watch how the rest just falls into place a little bit easier.