Celebrate yourself every day of the year – yes, even on Valentine’s Day.
Valentine's Day can be rough when you're unhappily single or feeling alone, so we're here to help you feel uplifted and positive this February 14.
We're fed up with those boring clichés of lonely singles on Valentine's Day, tucking into tubs of ice cream and watching The Notebook with tears streaming down their faces.
Valentine's Day shouldn't leave singletons feeling unloved and alone, so we spoke to two experts for their advice on practising self-care and love this February 14.
"Spending some time in nature is a proven way to increase that sense of life satisfaction," says Lysn Psychologist, Dr Katie Kokolas. "Studies show that heart rates and stress levels reduce when you’re amongst the trees, so if being single on Valentine’s Day has your heart racing and stress levels rising, get outside."
For the green thumbs out there, Katie suggests getting into the garden. "Breathing in the smell of dirt may actually lift your spirits, according to a study which found that a bacteria commonly found in soil produces mood-boosting effects," Katie says.
Try something new
You will quickly forget about what day it is when you’ve made a plan to try something new, suggests Katie. Novel experiences are key to long-term life satisfaction and fulfilment. As the mantra suggests, 'once a year, go somewhere you’ve never been before' - Katie thinks you should make that day Valentine's Day.
By trying something new, you can create your own Valentine’s Day tradition that makes the day meaningful, even if you don’t have a significant other. Studies show that doing something for others leads to higher happiness-levels and life satisfaction, so make a conscious effort to do something kind for someone else, whether through a simple gesture or by volunteering to help a worthy cause.
Nourish yourself with a home-cooked meal
"Nothing is more nourishing to the body and soul than a home-cooked meal, especially one made with love." Chef and nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin explains. "If you usually lack time to cook for yourself, this is the perfect opportunity to schedule it in, and it doesn’t have to mean dishing up a restaurant-worthy meal."
If you have some single friends, invite them over to share the meal with you or suggest a dinner party where everyone brings their own dish. Zoe's advice is to stick to something simple and - most importantly - have fun in the process. Try whipping up our delicious but easy Simple Stuffed Zucchini Flowers.
Zoe and Katie both suggest that exercise is a great way to practise self-love, so if you usually hide away on Valentine’s Day, use exercise as a tool to lift your spirits and boost confidence.
"Exercise classes, dance classes, going for runs, hitting the gym – all of it is proven to increase endorphins and make you feel great. It’s a pretty good self-care tip for any day, really," Katie says.
Spend time with your favourite people
"Our feel-good ‘love hormone’ oxytocin is stimulated by physical touch and it doesn’t need to be a touch from a lover," Katie says. "A hug from a friend, sibling or furry favourite can be enough. If you’re after something a bit more luxurious, pamper yourself with a massage, which is also effective in boosting feel-good hormones in our bodies."
You could also schedule in a coffee date with a loved one, says Katie: "Quality time with someone you care about – no matter who they are – is a known and reliable way to improve your mood and feel less lonely. And apparently coffee is a mood-booster, so hey – two birds, one stone."
If you've got lots of single friends, pick the funniest movie you’ve wanted to watch (or have already watched), call your pals over and laugh the night away together. Laughter boosts your mood, reduces stress, and makes you feel better. Katie suggests adding chocolate to the movie night too, because there is some evidence to suggest that it gives us an endorphin hit!
Relish your alone time
In this busy world, it's often rare to have some time to yourself, so try to make the most of it.
"Mindfulness and meditation have been buzz words floating around for some time now – with good reason," Katie tells us. "Several studies suggest that meditating — focusing intently and quietly on the present for set periods of time — can act as a buffer for mood fluctuations."
Think about downloading and trying out a free, guided mindfulness or meditation app on your phone, or try these simple mindfulness tips at home. If you want to dig a bit deeper, online platform Lysn offers appointments with over 120 Australian psychologists and you can do the session from the comfort of your own home, via phone or video link.
Most importantly, Katie says, be kind to yourself; "This is but one day, and it too shall pass. Remember your amazing qualities and incredible successes."