Ah Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air. And at the shops. We are encouraged to have a date night and buy an expensive gift or flowers to use this one day a year to tell someone they are important to us. I believe that one day a year of showing you care is not enough to sustain a healthy relationship and it should be much more regular than that. But I am also a realist and if Valentine’s Day helps remind people to be kind and spend some quality time together, then bring it on.
My young kids still have the purity of love in their hearts (no pun intended) that they often make cards and little notes to show how much they love us. Everybody join in…”aawwe”. Yep, I’m enjoying it while it lasts. I’ve seen enough families with teenagers to know what is in my future. It is a sweet lesson in how easy it can be to show you care all the time, not just on Valentine’s Day. But back to the grown-ups again.
I hear people talk about giving themselves completely to another as expressing their love for one another. I wonder if you appreciate what you are giving. Not the expensive, beautifully wrapped gift or witty or beautifully written card. If you are offering yourself to your nearest and dearest, do you value the gift? Do you truly value yourself?
If you are a gift, how good a gift are you? If you are worthy of offering yourself as a gift (and I’ll let you in on a secret…the answer is YES, YOU ARE!!) then you should manage that gift (yourself) to make it the best gift it can be. Think about it. Tiffany’s wouldn’t be Tiffany’s if it didn’t come in that blue box all shiny and new. In the same way, if you spend time looking after the ones you love, you need to look after yourself so you can be presented beautifully too! We are often happy enough to splash the big bucks to show we care with the best of the best “things”, but how about splashing some time to make that gift of yourself a quality one rather than the left-over dregs of energy levels at the end of a long day?
By looking after yourself, your offering of you will be better. I am not suggesting that you need to change who you are to be valued. But by focusing some time on your mental and physical wellbeing, you will be in a better position to bring the best of you to the most important people in your life. I know that when I have some self-care going on, I have more energy, greater patience and a better sense of humour. When I neglect my self-care, I get a bit cranky, impatient, I feel selfish and my naggy side comes out.
According to the ABS* in 2017-2018 4.8 million people in Australia suffer from mental and behavioural health conditions and the numbers have been rising. That’s a lot of people. 20.5% or around 1 in every five of us. When we look further at these recent statistics, as a nation most of us are not eating properly or moving enough. We are overall not in great shape mentally and physically.
So, what are we to do about it? Most of us have really busy lives and our days are already pretty full. But if you are as important as we both know you are, it takes a little bit of juggling or re-prioritising to make it happen. What is that thing you know you really should do to look after yourself but don’t? Is it exercise more, get a haircut, address that niggling health concern, or just regularly get an hour of peace and quiet to help your brain reset? Where oh where in your busy week could you possibly fit in anything else?
If you are a morning person, perhaps getting up ½ an hour earlier means you can fit in a leisurely uninterrupted coffee, morning run, or meditation. If you are a night owl, then make the most of those evening hours instead of wasting them on the couch. If you are one of those people that aren’t great early or late (you have that great window of energy from about 3.00 – 3.15pm), you really need to make the most of your self-care to extend that little window to a bigger one. Test it out. If you nurture that window it will grow. You probably have a friend or neighbour that would happily babysit for a couple of hours on a weekend so you could have the freedom to go out for coffee, see a movie, get a massage or go to the gym. You don’t need to feel guilty about it. That day to day grind that keeps you too busy for yourself, how much will it really suffer if you escaped for a little bit of time? You will most likely get back to it with greater efficiency if you have a break from your mundane anyway.
This Valentine’s Day, please show your most loved one you care and continue to show it throughout the year. But please also love yourself enough to show that you care about being a happier healthier version of you too.
*Source ABS, (2018) “National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18” at http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/mf/4364.0.55.001