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Show Yourself Some Love on Valentine’s Day

Here are 7 gifts of time and attention just for you


Who stresses over playing word games online? I do. Or I did, when the once-enjoyable time suck began to require more attention than I wanted to give it. When anticipation of playing first turned to dread, I waffled for a week or two. Then I deleted the app.

Making time for what matters is a form of self-love. For Valentine’s Day, here are seven more ways to untie any knots of your own making:

1. Giving Yourself Permission to Say ‘No’

At 3, when asked to wear a different shirt or play a new game, my grandson often would say quite pleasantly, “I don’t want to.” As adults, why do we repeatedly sacrifice free time for unwanted obligations?

I’m a night owl. At a recent midday meeting, I politely declined to attend the next session, scheduled for 8 a.m. a week later. Why? I Don’t Want To.

What do you want to do? Say “yes” to a walk in a garden or a park or an unscheduled stop at a favorite ice cream parlor or coffee shop? If company sounds appealing, invite a friend along. But only if you want to.

I like to get Me Time on the calendar.

Commenting on the Next Avenue Facebook page, a reader named Kim notes that she says “yes” to herself often. “I take myself out to eat, go to concerts, do art, sing, read, travel and volunteer,” Kim notes. She also makes time to hike in the mountains, because she wants to.

2. Change Is Gonna Come — So DIY

When you see it coming — a change in title, responsibility or schedule — instead of arming yourself with justifications for keeping everything the same, imagine how the change could benefit you, tweak it to fit even better and then do it yourself.

Your boss/partner/family will be surprised at your initiative, and you’ll be proud. We have so little control over so few situations, but taking action to jump start an inevitable change beats waiting to react. And think of the time you’ll save. Onward!

3. The Wisdom of Letting Go – or Not

I enjoy donating surplus clothing, cookware and kitchen tools, and periodically I update my outmoded perspectives. Why? Decluttering, literally or figuratively, makes me feel taller and younger. That may be true for you, as well.

However, now that we know nobody wants our stuff or the “treasures” left behind by relatives, you may decide to buck the trend toward “less is more” and keep everything. Whether you embrace holding onto your stuff or passing it along, making the call frees your mind — and your time — so you can help save the planet, work for human rights or snuggle with the grandchildren.

4. Schedule Self-Pampering

For decades, I’ve pondered writing a book called All Women Are Tired — but I’m too tired. Authors have written other books and articles, though, pointing out that many women feel guilty about spending leisure time on themselves. Rather than take a break, they take on tasks that no one requested of them. Here’s what a former “black-belt people pleaser” teaches about setting boundaries.

I like to get Me Time on the calendar. Maybe it’s a nap or a soak in the tub with a new novel — paperback, of course — or a personal appointment with a cup of tea or glass of wine. I also schedule manicures, museum visits and massage therapy.

On the Next Avenue Facebook page, some readers promote using Me Time to exercise. “I go to the YMCA every day and try to swim for at least an hour,” John writes. Nancy, another reader, is in favor of all forms of exercise: “Outdoors, indoors, group classes, solo, with a friend — whatever feels good and is do-able on any given day.” The secret? Book it.

5. Just Keep Swimming

We “mid-century” denizens (people in our 70s) often tell each other to “hang in there,” “keep going” or “see it through,” whatever “it” is. Finding Nemo’s Dory got it right: Fortitude matters, especially when measured over time.

Most often, that advice is offered as support during a physical or emotional upset. But it also serves as a subtle reminder to live in the present moment. You can’t change the past. You can’t sweep up debris accumulating in your future. But mindful actions today can affect outcomes and may even make a situation better. If taking life one day at a time is too troubling, aim for half a day.

6. Look Forward With Joy

Some people mourn losses long before they occur — that’s called anticipatory grief — or expect the worst-case scenario in every situation. Either can be psychologically debilitating, or depressing, at the least. In grief therapy some years ago, I devised a coping strategy: I try to operate from a position of anticipatory joy.

Does it always work? Of course not. So then I drive to the edge of the continent, watch the ocean waves and breathe deeply. Soon enough, I am reminded that thoughts aren’t facts, and I dial back my anxiety.

7. On Acting Now vs. Later

My neighbor admits he sometimes spends more time bemoaning having to take out the trash than carrying it outside would require. Doing something right now, rather than later, gets the job over and done, which means you can check it off your to-do list. But sometimes, putting off a chore until tomorrow gets you off the hook today, so procrastination is not without value if it buys you some downtime.

You may want to use some of that downtime to make plans for Valentine’s Day.

Vicki, another Next Avenue reader commenting on the Facebook page, writes that when she was single, she would gather on February 14 with a few other single women. “We’d have a fancy meal at one of our homes…and then we would watch a favorite movie together, make snarky comments and laugh until we ached! Love comes in all types of relationships,” she says.

By Patricia Corrigan
Patricia Corrigan is a professional journalist, with decades of experience as a reporter and columnist at a metropolitan daily newspaper, and a book author. She now enjoys a lively freelance career, writing for numerous print and on-line publications. Read more from Patricia on her blog.

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