Top tips to love yourself this Valentine's Day
Single and dreading Valentine's Day? How about embracing the chance to give your wellbeing a nice little boost instead
Sometimes when you're single, it can seem the whole world wants to remind you what you're missing out on. That's why Valentine's Day was invented, right - to rub salt in the sorry wounds of pathetic, unlovable singles?
There might not be a soppy card and heart-shaped chocs waiting for you this February 14 - but there could be a big bouquet of joy, and VIP tickets to fabulousness up for grabs (sorry - but when else can I be cheesy if not Valentine's Day?).
The catch is, you'll need to find them for yourself. You see, being single is actually an ideal chance to overhaul your well-being. It's not a question of single vs relationships (they can both be good, and they can both be pretty damn difficult too), but it is about looking on the bright side of singledom - a Valentine's Day gift that could transform your life and outlook.
Here are five ways being single can seriously boost your well-being...
1. Discover true passion... for a hobby
Most of us complain that we don't have enough time, but when you're single, especially newly single, filling those endless hours you'd usually have spent with a significant other can feel daunting. The quiet weekends you once longed for are suddenly sad reminders of your aloneness. They are also a wonderful opportunity to discover a new passion. Hobbies make life more interesting, make you a more confident, well-rounded person and they're also a fantastic distraction - backed up by science.
There's good reason music, art and craft activities are used as therapies, and studies have found that engaging in hobbies stimulates the mind, helps slow cognitive decline and reduces depression and the effects of stress.
It might take a while to discover your true hobby passion - but get out there and have a blast looking. You'll find 'the one' eventually. Doesn't matter what it is, and you don't even have to be any good at it - so long as it reconnects you with a sense of joy and gives those spare hours new meaning.
2. Fall in love... with fitness
There's so much pressure to find love, right? Well I'm all for it. Love is a wonderful thing! Find it - and then, heck, be utterly smug about it too! But before you punch me, let me clarify, I'm not talking about romantic love. I'm talking about being in love with fitness.
You don't need me to tell you how regular exercise will safeguard your future health and help ward off major diseases and depression - you know all that already.
What I will tell you though is that since my last break-up, I'm fitter than I've ever been - and all the happier for it. At first, getting out on my bike, or heading to the pool on Saturday mornings, gave me a reason to get out of bed and face the day.
Over time, it became a source of new-found body confidence, helped me feel physically and mentally stronger, and has transformed my life in ways I never would have imagined possible.
Again, don't be put off if you're not the sportiest/fastest/slimmest... the joys of fitness are just too good to miss, and they're there for all of us: go fall in love.
3. Learn to truly appreciate... the quiet moments
We moan and yearn for peace and quiet, and then when we get it, we moan there's nothing to do and panic that we're sad and friendless! Here's the thing: most humans need some downtime.
It helps us rebalance, recharge and focus. If you want to fill every moment with activities, and that's what works for you, fantastic - but there's real value in saving some time for doing, well, absolutely nothing too. Of course, this doesn't work if you have too much time doing nothing; it's always all about the balance.
But sometimes, not having any plans IS the plan - and you don't have to feel guilty about that or justify it to anybody. Embracing those quiet moments, and learning to enjoy them, will not only bring a sense of calm, but mean you're more present and energised when you are filling your time with activities and other people. So it's win-win, really.
4. Indulge in pampering... yourself
Generally speaking, when you're single, you get less presents and you get spoilt less, because there isn't a significant other who puts you at the top of their Christmas shopping priority list, splashes out on your birthday or keeps an eye out for restaurants you might like.
Boo hoo! I'll tell you what is fun: treating yourself. Life is too short to wait for somebody else to make you feel special, and, since there's no significant other buying you gifts, you save money on not having to buy them any either!
Chances are you're a good person with a good heart? There's nothing shallow or selfish about spending some hard-earned cash on a few treats for yourself (within reason); we can all benefit from a little boost now and then.
5. Let your heart glow... for others
So it's not you walking down the aisle and exchanging vows with the love of your life. So it's not you posting insanely cute baby pics on Facebook. And it's not you who has a warm hand to hold on cold, winter walks and snugly hugs to come home to after a stressful day at work.
No, it's not you - it's somebody else. But one day, it might be you enjoying those lovely things. And one day, that person whose life looks perfect right now will undoubtedly face personal hardships and difficult patches too. We all encounter grief. We all face struggles. And we all get our moments in the sun and our share of blessings and joys as well. And each and every one of us deserves to enjoy those good moments - and maybe, if you make a little more effort to celebrate other people's blessings too, you'll start to notice your own blessings more.
So savour good fortune, cheer for happy times, and let your heart swell for love, even when it's not your own.