B.Y.O.V. (Be your own Valentine) When everything surrounding us focuses our attention outward, it can be easy to forget to look inward. This Valentine’s Day, whether you spend it with a significant other, your Galentines, or a good book, remember to give yourself a little love while you’re at it.
Being mindful is one of the best ways to get in touch with yourself and reset your body and your stress levels. Mindfulness includes all five senses, so be sure to stimulate them! Wear your favorite perfume or cologne. Really enjoy the smell and think about why it pleases you. Take a shower and use that jelly you’ve been saving. Spray some air freshener to liven up the stale dorm air. Bake a sheet of cookies for your hall. If you don’t live on campus, light your favorite candle or burn some incense. Take a moment to inhale and enjoy the smells.
Next, try wearing a soft fabric, something that feels nice and comfortable. This makes you mindful of your sense of touch. You can also do a small breathing exercise that helps center you and focuses the tips of your fingers- one of the most sensitive areas- on feeling. Sit in a relaxing position, maybe stretched out in bed or criss-cross on your rug. Hold one hand out in front of you, palm up. Use your other hand to trace your fingers, starting with your thumb and ending with your pinky. Start in the center of your palm, and inhale as you move your finger up the length of your thumb, and exhale as you move it back down. Continue with your other fingers, and then your other hand. This activity allows you to feel gentle and control the pace of your breathing.
The auditory sense is something people often forget about- in the hubbub of daily life, the constant buzzes from our phones or the faint conversations happening outside our doors can distract us without even realizing it. Put on your favorite songs- build a playlist just for yourself to listen to. Hear the bass, the piano, the guitar. Try to pick out as many instruments as you can, and listen to how they come together to create music. I enjoy listening to Gustav Holst’s ‘The Planets’ orchestra, listening to all the ways the same instruments can create entire moods and feelings. You might also listen to the sounds of nature. Try an ambient mix website to build the sounds you enjoy most- waves crashing, crickets chirping, fire crackling. Close your eyes and let yourself sink away into your favorite sounds.
Mindful sight can be harder to grasp, especially in the dreariness of rain in the winter. Everything seems grey and lifeless, but it isn’t! Look for the evergreen trees around campus, appreciate the thick bark, the green needles against the white-grey sky. See the way different lights and shadows affect the colors, and just how many shades of one color there really are. If you enjoy art, try your hand at it. Use some watercolors of they’re available to you, watch how the colors swirl together and mix into new pigments. Watch the brushstroke across the paper or the canvas, how it leaves a trail behind it. Take a warm shower and watch how the soap spins away down the drain. Look at yourself in the mirror and point out the things you enjoy about yourself- your eyes, your nose, your mouth, maybe you have a piercing you think is really neat. Enjoy the little things that make you like yourself more!
Mindful taste is as easy as appreciating what you eat. Try something new, like going to the Forum and getting a chicken sandwich for dinner instead of eating pizza at Ripich. Savor the way it tastes in your mouth- is it crunchy? Sweet? Bitter? What makes your meal enjoyable? Eat the things you love, and enjoy each bite. Don’t stuff it down and eat just to eat- enjoy the process! Food can taste amazing (or at least better than you think) if you slow down and think about what’s in your mouth. Chew a piece of mint or cinnamon gum- something that perks up your taste buds. Get your favorite coffee and remember what about the taste makes it your favorite. Drink some cold water, let it refresh your tongue and give you that hydration boost you’ve needed.
Valentine’s Day is about loving your significant other, but you can make it about loving yourself. Be your own Valentine this Friday, and remember to enjoy the little things in life- including yourself.