Donned with hearts, flowers, candy and just about everything love-related, Valentine’s Day has already taken over our local retail stores.
While it may be a fun time for some people to celebrate intimate relationships, for others it could easily cause anxiety and depression, which could then lead to social isolation. That is why some refer to the day as Singles Awareness Day. However, all of this forced focus on love can also be challenging for others, too, especially veterans struggling to transition from military to civilian life and for military family members separated from their deployed loved ones.
While there’s nothing wrong with celebrating that special someone in your life, it’s equally important for everyone – whether single or in a relationship – to think about self-love and find ways to take care of themselves. Because, let’s face it; you can’t truly love someone else if you don’t love yourself first.
There are so many things you can do to practice self-love, but it begins with channeling your inner self to learn what interests you and what keeps you relaxed and calm, even if that just means incorporating some alone time into your day to think, said Kylie Sligar, Psychology Predoctoral Intern at the Cohen Clinic at Metrocare.
“Do a self-compassion meditation,” she said. “Or, take a warm bath, make your favorite meal, journal things that you are grateful for or reflect on your strengths, or get in touch with your creative side by spending some time expressing yourself through art music or a home project.”
Here are some other ways to give yourself a little love this time of year:
- Find an exercise routine that interests you and make it consistent.
- Schedule a “me day” once a month and use that time to do a favorite activity, like catching your favorite movie or sports game.
- Go on a solo road trip, even if it’s just for one day or for the weekend.
- Step outside for some fresh air and BREATHE.
- If you’re having challenges in life, speak to a therapist who can offer help.
In addition to self-love, Fernando Alessandro, a clinician at the Cohen Clinic at Metrocare, says that Valentine’s Day is also a good time of the year to emphasize the love you can GIVE, rather than hoping to receive it. “Practice 14 acts of love on Valentine’s Day or reach out to a fellow veteran who might need some love,” he said.
Extending that love within your family is also important. “When my husband is deployed, I still try to make holidays special and Valentine’s Day is included!” said veteran and military spouse Ashley Tatum, Case Manager at the Cohen Clinic at Veterans Village of San Diego.
“My kids and I will send him a box of goodies to make sure he feels loved, even from afar. I try to make it special for us back home by getting the kids a box of chocolates and a small gift. Last year, we ordered a heart shaped pizza for dinner!” she added.
Whether practicing self-love or spending more time with your family, unplug! That’s the advice clinician Marla Monk at the Cohen Clinic at Veterans Village provides.
“Take time out of your busy day to disconnect (yes, put down the phone, turn off the TV, turn off the podcast…I know it’s hard) and have a face-to-face conversation about what is going on in the lives of your loved ones. It’s amazing what just 10 minutes of undivided attention can mean to others,” she said.
By Hope Phifer
Clinic Communications Manager