Life has a lot going on – there are things to think of, people to care for, hours to work. In amongst all these things, people struggle to buy into the idea of Valentine’s Day – people are becoming sceptical of the whole hearts, chocolate and roses mentality. And who could blame them?
I’d like to propose something a little different this year. Whether you’re single, happily married or somewhere in between, we can all use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to slow down and show ourselves some attention. Take a few hours out of the bustling day to treat yourself to something nice, spend some time meditating, or creating a positive, clean living environment.
Start a Diary
I think this might seem like a lot of work for some people. Spending time every night scribbling into a padlocked pad, whilst our partners wait patiently to press the play button on the TV. But it really doesn’t need to be as typical as that. I propose you start a success diary. A diary of all your little achievements – no matter how small or insignificant. For ease, create a document that you can access from everywhere, your work PC, your phone and your tablet at home. In that document, simply put in the date and time, and a small description of your success. It could look like this:
12th June 2018 – 12:05am
Today I bought coffee for Mike at work. He looked a little upset – but when I handed the coffee to him, he smiled a lot. He told me I’d made his day.
14th June 2018 – 6:00pm
Today I beat my 5k personal best. 28 minutes and 15 seconds.
Take Yourself on a Date
I know, this might seem a little cringey. But I don’t mean that you necessarily have to book a table for one. Plan your day, and fill it with all the things you really love to do. Wake up and cook yourself breakfast in bed, then head to the library to enjoy a cup of tea and a few chapters of your favourite book. Then treat yourself to a massage, before heading home to enjoy some quality computer games. Whatever it is that floats your boat, fit it into your date day. If you’ve only got an evening to spare, take your favourite book or magazine to a restaurant and enjoy your favourite cuisine. Take your time to really enjoy the food!
You may or may not already be into meditation. That’s fine. If you’ve never tried it before, then I highly recommend giving it a go. Don’t worry, you don’t need to find a waterfall or pull your legs into lotus position. You just need to sit or lie comfortably. Get really cosy. Blankets, pillows – all the things that make you feel warm and safe. Then, plug in your headphones and search for a long, relaxing meditation online. There are hundreds of thousands to try, many with targeted effects, like helping anxiety, or aiding weight loss. If you’re feeling super up to it, create a peaceful meditative environment with candles, incense and aromatherapy oils. It’s all about spending some time to focus on your own mind, to unravel all the complex thoughts that go on throughout the day.
De-clutter your Home
This doesn’t have to be a huge job. But I think most of us can step into any room in the house and point out a few things we either don’t like, don’t use, or don’t want. It’s a simple and therapeutic exercise to approach your possessions with two questions in mind. Does it make me happy? Is it useful? If the answer to either of these questions is no, then you should donate or throw away that thing. Here are a few more tips to quickly de-cluttering your home, for a clearer mind.
- Get rid of the nick-nacks and bric-a-brac. Figurines from your teens? A tea pot your mum gave to you? Books you’ve never read, and never will read? Sure, some of these things hold a lot of emotional attachment. But they’re gathering dust. So, the best thing to do is take a photo of the thing, and write down the memory/feeling attached to it. Then keep a book of all the meaningful possessions you owned. Just think – by donating your bric-a-brac, you could be giving a wonderful thing to someone with nothing.
- Empty out that kitchen drawer, you know the one. Empty it out onto the counter. Throw away old receipts, broken pens, dead batteries and rusty tools. Wipe the drawer and only place things back inside that are useful, necessary or functional.
- Tackle the bathroom. Recycle empty shampoo and conditioner bottles. Check out the recommended usage time on every product you have, if the product has been open for longer than that time, chuck it. Give the room a quick clean, making sure to get those horrible places that might not get cleaned as often as they should. Then, go and order yourself a shiny new shower curtain. Something to make you smile when you’re fumbling into the shower at 6am.
- Sort out the post. This tends to pile up for a lot of people. We add to the pile of take away menus, local papers and advertisement literature every single day. Go through each piece you have, making sure to thoroughly tear up any bank statements, pin up your bills, and put usable coupons in your wallet.
- Update your photo frames. Not really a de-cluttering exercise, but one that will really bring positivity and happiness. Head to the supermarket and print out some new, up to date photos – place them in the frames around your house. Choose images that make you laugh every time you see them, or choose interesting photos that take time to look at.
Overhaul Your Wardrobe
We’re all guilty of keeping hold of clothes for years. That pair of jeans you’re determined to get back into, or that coat donated to you by a work colleague. In a similar way to approaching the de-cluttering process, you can attack your clothing items with a ‘two question’ mentality. Ask yourself: does this shirt/jacket/pair of socks make me happy? And, perhaps more importantly: does this item of clothing fit me? Put two boxes in your room, one labelled DONATE, one labelled KEEP. Then barrel through your whole wardrobe. If you’re left with a precious few items, then great! It’s worked! Feel free to head out and buy yourself a shiny new item. Or, even better, head to the charity shops!
Write a Gratitude List
This is a quick way of lifting your spirits, and making you feel good. Grab a pen and paper, and start making a numbered list of all the things you’re grateful for right now. If you’re struggling, think of all the little things that you have, things that some others could only dream of having. Once you’ve made a start, you’ll notice that there are lots of things to be grateful for. If you have the time, prioritise your list – and have the top 5 pinned up somewhere. It might look like this:
My Gratitude List
- I have clean water to drink
- I have a warm place to sleep at night and food to eat
- I am grateful for my dog Milo, who keeps me company
- I am grateful for my smartphone, without which I wouldn’t be able to contact my parents in Australia
- I am grateful for chocolate, and cake, and family sized bags of crisps