By Caryn O’Hara
It’s that time. The ever-present slow jam of love-bird songs hum in the background in card shops, drug stores and markets everywhere. The signs of Valentine’s Day are in full force, each day peppered with sights of specialty candies and decorations adorned in pink and red glitter. At this point we’re either excited about a little extra quality time with loved ones that second weekend of February or feeling the pangs of annoyance, trying our best to ignore it altogether.
If we’re going through a break up, the most appealing option might be to hole up blaring Bon Jovi’s “Shot Through the Heart” Pandora station while helping ourselves to every chocolate in the heart-shaped box. Twenty minutes later with a headache from crying, stomach ache from overeating and nervous energy from all the sugar, we are covered in a swirl of half-melted treats that don’t quite give us long-lasting contentment for long. It’s times like this we realize it might be a good time for a new way to celebrate.
Yes, it’s nice to enjoy any day with a sweetheart, and we are fully capable of entertaining ourselves. Why not plan something for yourself? Or a Galentine’s Day dinner?
Sure sweets are delicious, and why not ditch the store-bought goodies and replace them with a homemade recipe with some healthy ingredients mixed among the decadent ones? It’s a great way to keep a clear mind and energetic body during a time of year where we feel more apt to skip what we know is best for our health.
Let’s offer a moment of recognition for Whitney Houston’s 1985 release: “The Greatest Love of All” may not be so easy to achieve if we continue to choose to self destruct. Especially if we are grieving, loving ourselves through the highs, lows and in between comes much more naturally if we are doing small things with love. We are definitely doing life well if we fuel our bodies with food that sustains us, spend time with people who lift and listen to us, and get honest about the emotions we are having so we don’t end up harboring resentment about our circumstances.
So how do we shift from a blah day-to-day to living a vibrant life?
It starts with taking care of ourselves. When we focus on our health, it keeps us from repeating habits from our past that we aren’t particularly proud of. Instead we stay focused on choosing a meal or gathering that supports our long-term goals.
This Valentine’s Day, let’s keep in mind that the way we treat ourselves this week is a giant reflection of the messages we are delivering to our psyche on the regular. The way we treat ourselves mirrors what we perceive as our level of worthiness.
First, let’s look at what loving ourselves doesn’t look like:
- Eating an excess of processed, dry, frozen and overcooked foods
- Weighing ourselves down more by overeating
- Denying ourselves nourishment by undereating
- Feeling shameful or guilty about our relationship/career/health status
- Living in the victim role
- Numbing out with alcohol and drugs
- Guilt-tripping someone else for their choices or status of any kind
These are the ways we can live in vibrant health this time of year:
- Enjoy sweets, but not the refined sugar-filled ones. Instead enjoy honey or dates for sweetener; vegetables like beets, carrots and sweet potatoes; nuts such as almonds, cashews and pumpkin seeds. Sweet foods are grounding.
- Sour foods like grapefruit, lemons, fermented foods and garlic ground us and keep our digestion churning.
- Eat naturally salty foods like sea salt, tamari, soy sauce or liquid aminos, seaweed, and celery, which keep digestion strong and (contrary to what many believe) hydrate us.
- Clean out or donate objects that are no longer needed or enjoyable.
- Carve out quality time with someone who could use some support.
- Start a morning routine to begin the day on a high note.
- End each day with a rhythm that calms the nervous system.
- Spend time in nature.
The ripple effect
Once we learn how to treat ourselves well, it’s up to us to be an active participant in our community. It’s time to take a stand for what’s needed so that we can all experience love, acceptance and togetherness.
With all the events in Charleston in support of nonprofits’ missions, let’s be sure to check social media or online event calendars to find a cause to get behind. Let’s make sure that we are spending our dollars in a way that truly supports those in the community who are doing great things for the whole. Let’s unite with the intention of offering support for someone who could genuinely use it.
Ultimately the goal is to live in the present moment.
Do what we can to stay healthy.
Jump into the community and be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
How about it?
Caryn has wisdom beyond her years and offers it to the world by connecting clients to their innate healing wisdom. She is an expert in surviving cancer. She is a published writer, public speaker, and yoga + meditation instructor. Caryn is a natural connector who inspires others daily with her vulnerability and force-to-be-reckoned-with ability to create and hold space for others. Learn more about Caryn at carynohara.com.