How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day this year? I am getting away with a group of college friends for our annual girls weekend, while my husband will spend time with his best friends from college, too, (which, I might add, is a vast improvement over the original plan of him staying home alone with our dog). Usually we plan a getaway or romantic date together, but we are excited about this Valentine’s Day weekend, too. Maintaining our friendships is important for nourishing our souls. And, it isn’t that we need time apart, it is that taking time for ourselves and other relationships we value is important, too. So why not celebrate these other loves on Valentine’s Day?
It is common to celebrate Valentine’s Day with chocolate and flowers, and focusing on only romantic relationships. But this celebration of love can be so much more. It can also be a great opportunity to reflect on one of the best ways to show love to those you love: taking care of yourself. Wait, what? Not by doing something for that person? Surprising them with a gift? Spending a lot of money? This way of showing love can have much more profound implications (like more energy, longer life, being the best you possible!), and is an ongoing commitment.
I began thinking about the profound nature of caring for oneself as a way of showing love for others after listening to a podcast from Rob Bell and his wife, Kristen. They spent the podcast talking and reflecting about healthy relationships, (particularly with a spouse or significant other, but it can be applied to other relationships as well). At one point in the podcast, Rob says, “Your own health is the greatest gift you give this person that you love.”
There is so much truth in this statement. Many of us are not motivated to care for ourselves for our own sake, but might be for the sake of those we love the most. It is important to break down the misconception that taking time and caring for oneself is selfish. Let’s take this February 14 and beyond to prioritize caring for ourselves—in mind, body, and spirit. This might mean re-evaluating your lifestyle: the foods you eat, the time you take for exercise, your stress level and how you manage it, your methods of self-care. The way you show love to your family might be thinking of them when you choose to eat healthy foods and say “no” to those that you know are not contributing to your health. The antidote to a stressful month at work might just be a weekend away with your friends, to renew and center, coming back ready to love and give and serve with a newfound energy. What will you do to care for yourself and show those most important to you — your friends, family, and/or partner — that you love them?