Valentine’s Day can be a tough holiday, especially when you’re single, having a difficult time with friends, feeling disconnected from community or struggling with disordered eating. But here’s the good news: you can transform your Valentine’s Day to be a day of celebration! And here’s how:
1. Write your damn self a love note.
When was the last time that you explicitly expressed how much you appreciate yourself?
I tend to externalize love and give it to other people, and I often end up forgetting about myself. A great exercise in self-love is to practice putting into words the ways in which you appreciate yourself, as you are, right now, in this moment of your life.
You could also write affirmative quotes on post-it notes and put them somewhere you can read them.
2. Remember when you were in elementary school…?
Valentine’s Day was the best day ever. In our school, we used to staple decorated paper bags with our names on them to the wall, and each kid brought a piece of candy for everyone else. What I loved about this tradition was that it wasn’t discriminating—the love was meant for and shared with everyone universally, not only exclusively with family, friends or significant others.
Which brings us to our next point…
3. Random acts of kindness.
Carry on this spirit on non-discriminating love!
Keep in mind that people receive love in different ways, and, for some, baked goods, candies or food is going to be stressful. Consider carrying around an alternative for our friends who are struggling with disordered eating, such as handmade love notes or drawings.
I have a friend, Hannah, who cut index cards in half, drew crazy monsters on them, and added googly eyes to the monster at the end. They each had wonderful sayings on them, like, “you are loved” or “you are enough,” and she gave them to people she knew who were struggling. These simple and beautiful acts of kindness can make people feel seen, loved, appreciated and cherished.
You could also write love letters to the people you love in your life—a relative, a friend, a teacher, a mentor, a person you say hello to on your daily commute, a stranger on the subway, a lover—there are endless possibilities. I think that, in our society, we tend to view love from a perspective of scarcity, only showing it to select people. But love exists in many forms, and it is exciting to imagine all of the different people who can be appreciated in your life!
4. Pay attention to how you’re feeling.
This is really important in general, and especially crucial on this day—Valentine’s Day is a charged day in a lot of different ways. Paying attention to how you are feeling and what you need during the day is important. Do you need to be with your friends? Alone? Do you need to watch an episode of your favorite comfort show? Do you need tea? A bath? A hug? Stay curious and open to how you’re feeling throughout the day and respect what you need moment to moment.
5. Reach out.
If you are struggling and need support, please reach out to someone. Society encourages us to only show ourselves to others when we are feeling good, and to hide in the shadows when we are feeling bad—try to fight that pressure. If you are not feeling well, and need the love and care of others, reach out to someone (or multiple people) in a way that feels good for you (texting, calling, FaceTiming, meeting in person). Also keep in mind that if they cannot support you in that moment, it does not reflect on your lovability or value.
Alison Znamierowski graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in sociology.
A version of this piece originally appeared on Proud2Bme.org, NEDA’s website for young adults.