(Self-) Love Is In The Air

SIx Self-Care Rituals for Valentine’s Day

by Alyssa Ford

Talk of self-love seems to be popping up on every app, blog, podcast etc. lately, but being kind to yourself is more than just another trend. Studies show that practicing self-compassion helps people to cope with times of personal embarrassment or failure. It also helps those recovering from past trauma or a recent heartbreak. Yes, Valentine’s Day is trademarked as a day for couples, but why not also take a little time this week to show yourself some TLC?

Maybe you’ll do one of these rituals before a night out with your lover, maybe you’ll stay in and embark on a self-care journey, or maybe you’ll kick it with your friends with a night consumed by fair trade chocolate and homemade face masks. No matter what your plans are, these rituals are simple ways to assist you in cultivating inner love.

Cleansing Ritual

Simple serenity.

Simple serenity.

Photographed by  Alyssa Ford

Photographed by Alyssa Ford

A cleansing ritual can be performed in either the shower or bath, but I recommend the bath. To make this ritual all the more enchanting, add flower petals, essential oils or muscle relaxing salts to your bath water and of course- candles and healing crystals. Try to be mindful of your presence and of your environment. If silence isn’t your cup of tea, make sure to hit play on your favorite playlist before beginning (mine can be found here btw).

There aren’t many specific rules to any of these rituals- do what you are comfortable with to connect with yourself. By cleansing your physical being, you are also cleansing the spiritual. A hot bath not only relaxes tense muscles, but has also been known to elevate people’s moods and help with better sleep. For those of you who find it difficult to sit still in the bath, there are even bath-friendly restorative yoga poses you can try for an increased soothing effect on the body and mind.

Burning Ceremony

Sage burning. Photographed by Alyssa Ford

Sage burning. Photographed by Alyssa Ford

A burning ceremony is a transformative ritual used to cleanse negativity and let go of the past. It is typically performed on New Year’s Eve or other significant holidays/dates, so Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to do some soul and space cleansing. I actually practiced a New Year’s ritual with my roommates just last month, which involved utilizing all four elements of nature to set our intentions for the new year.

Sage burning or “smudging,” is said by spiritual teachers to have numerous benefits such as its power to dispel negative energy and serve as a spiritual tool for healing. Sage is best known for its purifying qualities and its ability to cleanse one’s environment. Smudging can help rid yourself, the area around you and even specific objects from lingering negativity, which then creates a more positive environment and clear mind.

Once you have cleansed the environment around you and have established a positive mindset, you can take the ceremony a step further. Write down something you want to let go of on a piece of paper- whether it be a bad habit or an unhealthy relationship, and then burn the paper over a flame (make sure you have something fire-friendly to hold and catch the ashes). Watch it burn, take some deep breaths and feel the attachment leaving your body and mind.

Love Meditation

We can all find value in reminding ourselves that we deserve to be loved. It can be too easy to slip into a spiral of self-hatred. Especially for those of us that are single around Valentine’s day, this time can trigger daunting questions like, “will I ever find love?” The answer: yes, yes you will. But it is absolutely true that first you must find love within yourself.

Rose quartz is a crystal often used for all rituals of the heart. It signifies love’s undeniable power and supports unconditional love towards yourself and others. To perform this ritual hold the rose quartz in your dominant hand, breathing in and out deeply several times. Choose an affirmation to say out loud such as, “I choose love,” repeating it as many times as you feel you need to. Say the affirmation until your heart and head feel it to be true. Lie down on a flat surface such as your bed, couch or yoga mat and set a timer for no more then ten minutes. Breathe. Hold the rose quartz over your heart, with eyes closed, and think how you can change your life through love.

Share your gratitude through words.

Share your gratitude through words.

Gratitude List

What are you grateful for? At times I find myself placing so much emphasis on everything wrong in my life that I start to miss the good happening right before my eyes. This way of thinking can become threatening to mental health because it is easy to get stuck beneath that rain cloud. Composing a list of all that you are grateful for, or even writing a letter of appreciation to yourself are both small yet powerful ways to practice self-love. We all need to be reminded every now and then of all the amazing things actually happening in our life.

No Partner? No problem.

Just because you’re flying solo this Valentine’s day doesn’t mean you should miss out on all the fun! Spend some quality me-time with this pocket-sized bio-degradable vibrator from Package Free shop, or the toy of your choice, (just make sure it’s eco-friendly please! Check sites like Unbound for body and earth friendly products.)

Though historically there has been a stigma surrounding masturbation, specifically female masturbation, it’s not news that this act of self-care carries many benefits. Masturbation helps reduce stress, can improve self-esteem and body image, increases mood, helps alleviate muscle tension and can actually give you multiple orgasms. Even if you’re in a relationship, your partner may not always be around when you find yourself in the mood. There is a certain sense of liberation that comes with exploring your sexuality and taking the time to figure out what you enjoy.

Eco-bullet vibrator from  Package Free Shop . Photographed by  Sam Baselice

Eco-bullet vibrator from Package Free Shop. Photographed by Sam Baselice

Lingerie and Loungewear

Love yourself.

Love yourself.

Photographed by  Kate Puthota

Photographed by Kate Puthota

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Gone are the days when people believe the myth that women only dress up or wear lingerie for the enjoyment of another person. Sure, it can be sexy and exciting dressing yourself in lace for your significant other, but it can be just as satisfying and fulfilling wearing it for no other reason other than that it makes you feel good. I find it to be true, at least for myself, that when I look good, I feel good.

Putting on your favorite lingerie set or piece of loungewear and simply admiring and acknowledging yourself is another form of empowerment. It can be hard to accept ourselves, but when we find something that makes us feel beautiful- it’s like magic. Chase that magic and don’t ever let anyone take it away from you. Looking for conscious and inclusive brands to support? HARA and VAVA are both eco-friendly and diverse lingerie labels that carry a wide array of sizes and styles.

Self-love is something that should be practiced year-round. No matter who you are, what your gender identity is, what your sexual orientation is, everyone must find ways to love themselves. I know firsthand just how difficult this can be, which has led me on a journey of self-discovery. That may sound cliche, but it’s true! I have spent so much time sulking and dwelling on the negative, that I began to lose hope and site of myself. Just like any relationship, loving yourself is hard work. My hope is that these rituals act as a guide and provide you with a warm welcome, helping you to accept self-love as an everyday part of life.