On Valentine's Day, people tend to show their love for their partners with overpriced flowers, expensive jewelery and fancy dinners. Single people might spend the day frustrated with the concept of a holiday that excludes them.
Whether you find yourself single, infatuated or in a committed relationship this Valentine's Day, make sure to love yourself first. We often hear the story of securing your own oxygen mask first during an emergency on a plane. But taking care of yourself is a continuous action and doesn't only apply in emergency situations.
If you had a spouse or loved one who never got enough sleep, ate poorly, didn't have time to exercise and never had any down time, you'd be concerned. Yet we often repeat the same behaviors ourselves because we haven't put our health and happiness first.
With all the demands on us these days, it's easy to put ourselves on the backburner. But in doing so, we are actually being less than our best in our work and relationships. When you're exhausted, you tend to be short with your loved ones and withdraw from social activities. By getting enough sleep, you'll be more patient with your loved ones; and if you make eating healthily a priority, you may in turn provide better meals for your children.
As other entrepreneurs know, your to-do list never gets any shorter no matter how many hours you spend working. I used to stay up late working on projects and think I was getting ahead. Yet the next day would drag by, and my hour of extra productivity the night before would lead to eight or more hours of decreased productivity the next day. Taking care of yourself means planning ahead and scheduling in enough time to sleep, eat properly and relax.
In the long term, reduced stress and a healthier lifestyle will in turn lead to a longer and healthier life. The extra time you take each week to care for yourself can yield a huge return on your investment.
Another way we can love ourselves is to tame our inner critic. I know when some women fall behind in a project they start an inner dialogue with themselves that goes something like this, "Of course you're behind. Did you really think you're capable of this? You'll never get this done properly so why even bother?"
We are often our biggest critics, and our negative self-talk is counterproductive. Learn to accept setbacks and give yourself constructive and helpful criticism similar to that you would give to a friend or colleague. You could say something that goes like this, "Ok, I've fallen behind. That's ok, I'll pick up the pace and avoid distractions. This might be a big task but if I work hard at it, it will be worth it."
Not taking care of yourself in one area of your life will often cause a domino effect. If you don't sleep enough, you might hit the snooze button on your alarm clock and skip your regular morning workout. Still exhausted, your body begins to crave sugar and you indulge in some junk food. After the initial sugar rush, you crash and feel exhausted again. When you look back on the day, you feel disgusted with how little you accomplished, so you stay up late again trying to make up for the lost day. The next day starts over again just like the last day.
It's easy to spend our entire lives in this vicious circle, but we must break it by making ourselves a priority and loving ourselves first.
Lucille Ball said it best when she said, "Love yourself first and everything falls into line."
Ways To Love Yourself and Put Your Health First
- Eat healthy foods to fuel your body
- Make sleep a priority
- Exercise for your physical and mental health
- Tame your inner critic
For more by Carolyn Anderson, click here.
For more on personal health, click here.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more