Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. With it comes a massive influx of pink and red hearts, romantic movies, overpriced candies, and love-fueled events. Sounds harmless and lovely for anyone who is currently in a romantic relationship. But for many, the let-down of an underwhelming Valentine’s Day that never lives up to the hype can be a real bummer. 

And for anyone unattached, February 14th can just make you feel lonely rather than full of love. This is why everyone — single, married, dating – should embrace the most essential kind of love on Valentine’s Day: SELF. LOVE.

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That’s right, loving yourself. What a strange concept, right? The idea that you don’t need anyone else to offer you love or devotion or public displays of affection because you provide yourself with all the love you need. 

Research shows that self-love is essential for our happiness and our health, even if we are in a happy, fulfilling relationship

Self-love, or self-compassion, is “a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth,” according to Clinical Psychologist Dr. Deborah Khoshaba. It is about valuing yourself as a human being and recognizing that you are worthy of love. 

Self-love is not just a luxury but a necessity, according to experts. The opposite of self-love is often self-criticism and negative self-talk, including feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, and depression. On the flip side, studies have shown that self-compassion and feeling positively about yourself are crucial ingredients for happiness, success, and overall health, explains Tchiki Davis, Ph.D. for Psychology Today

How can self-love help your overall health? It can lower stress levels, increase dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin (aka the ‘happy hormones’), improve heart health, and boost your immune system, New York-based holistic psychotherapist and life coach Lucía Garcia-Giurgiu told

Bottom line: self-love is arguably the most important kind of love

So, how can you practice self-love on February 14th and beyond? It’s easier than you might think. It can be as simple as giving yourself a break, saying no to others, or indulging in what YOU want (and not thinking about what anyone else wants for once). Or it can be a far more elaborate plan to treat yourself and show your body and soul a little love.

Write yourself a love note

Sure, romantic cards are fine, but writing a love note to yourself is so much more powerful because you reap the benefits not only when you receive it but also when you write down your thoughts. Consider what you love about yourself. Think about what you are proud of, what you are grateful for, what brings you joy, and what you’ve accomplished. Write it all down. Do not hold back. Think about how quick you are to compliment others. Now, show yourself that same respect and care. 

Practice daily self-love affirmations

Try to incorporate daily affirmations into your routine. Not only will these affirmations help you boost self-esteem and self-compassion, but they will also help you shift away from negative thoughts. Say affirmations such as “I have value,” “I am at peace with who I am,” and “I deserve peace and joy in my life” out loud, and choose affirmations that are meaningful to you. 

Pamper yourself with a spa day

Nothing can make you feel rejuvenated or relaxed faster than a spa day. Whether it’s at a spa or through at-home DIY treatments, a little pampering goes a long way. 

Rest your feet. Soothe your skin. Listen to relaxing music. Get a massage or invest in an at-home massager. Apply a face mask, do your nails, or find a sauna or steam room. Do whatever works for you. Just find a way to pamper yourself where the only goal is to refresh and relax your body and your mind.

Eat what you love

Valentine’s Day as a couple: compromising on a restaurant or meal you both love. Valentine’s Day focused on self-love: eat what YOU want. Don’t worry about what you should eat, what anyone else wants to prepare, or what fixed-price meal a cheesy romantic restaurant offers.  Eat what you love. Treat yourself. And do it with zero regrets and all the love in the world for your body and what it has given you. 

Get outside and move your body

Fresh air, physical activity, and an opportunity to move your body are gifts. Gift them to yourself. Take a moment out of your busy day, or take an entire day to be in nature, exercising your body and clearing your mind. Do not underestimate the power of a workout or a dose of vitamin D from being outside. 

Just say no

It’s easy to get sucked into tasks and commitments you don’t actually want to do, and on a day dedicated to caring for others, it’s even easier to get wrapped up in making others happy. But try to use this one small word a bit more: “NO.” Know when you’re overcommitted and spread too thin. Recognize when something no longer serves you, make an effort to say no to others, and instead say yes to your own needs.

Meditate and focus on your mental health

Mental health is the greatest gift of self-love you can offer yourself. Protecting your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being is essential in the larger mission of achieving happiness. You can practice yoga, mindfulness, or meditation – it’s never been easier thanks to meditation apps and easy at-home tools. Speak with a therapist or confide in a loved one. You can keep a gratitude journal or check in with your mental state. 

Embrace a passion or hobby

In making sure others are happy (your kids, spouse, boss, friends, etc.), we can often let go of our own passions and let our hobbies or interests get lost in the shadows. Think about passion projects or pastimes that bring you joy and embrace them again. Take an art class. Spend a day recipe-testing in the kitchen. Join a running club. Take an online course. Explore nature. Craft or sketch or sing. Whatever fills your soul and taps into your inner interests and loves, dedicate time to those activities.