There are lots of benefits to spending time alone with yourself.
Come February, when streaming giants release highly-anticipated rom-coms and Starbucks starts rolling out its secret menu of rose-hued drinks, it’s often easy to forget that Valentine’s Day is simply a Hallmark holiday. Especially if you’re spending the day solo.
While being alone can sometimes… well… suck, finding moments of solitude is crucial in order for personal growth. According to Dr. Katy Kamkar, a clinical psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Valentine’s Day—whether you’re alone or not—serves as a strong reminder of the importance of self-care. Think: being kind to yourself (no negative self talk), practicing gratitude and immersing yourself in activities that make you feel good. “It’s about building your sense of self, self-worth and self-love,” she says, which quite frankly, we should be doing more of year-round.
In addition, spending time alone may allow you to find more joy and meaning in life, says Cynthia Loyst, a host on The Social and author of Find Your Pleasure: The Art of Living a More Joyful Life. “It’s only when we are quiet and alone that we begin to hear our inner voice, which we often bury under the noise of social media, work, obligations and family.”
Here, six simple ways to enjoy Valentine’s Day alone.
Work on your meditation
Empty house? Take advantage of the quiet and find a cozy spot to practice some mindful meditation. If you’re having trouble focusing on your breath or staying in the present, Kamkar suggests practicing self-gratitude: Simply repeat positive affirmations to yourself or jot down some things that you’re grateful for in a journal. You can also try practicing gratitude before bed, which Loyst does herself. “This seems to set the stage for a happy and hopeful morning like nothing else.”
Book a workout class
Yes, human connection is important, but you know what’s also important? Endorphins! (A.K.A. the chemicals in your brain that help ward off stress and pain.) And an easy way to get those endorphins pumping is via exercise. Pop in to one of your favourite fitness studios, as they may be offering Valentine’s Day-themed classes or post-sesh socials.
Have a feast
Kamkar suggests preparing a nice meal for yourself. Spending time to cook for yourself and experiment in the kitchen is great because there’s no pressure to entertain guests, and no judgement if your dish isn’t perfect. Need a little inspiration? Pull up that Bon Appétit Test Kitchen YouTube video you’ve been saving to recreate for a special occasion. (Recommendation: Chris Morocco’s decadent—but super simple—chocolate cake.) And, if all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with binge watching back-to-back “Gourmet Makes” episodes on the couch with take-out.
Book a hotel room for one
There’s nothing quite like sleeping in a bed you don’t have to make and lazing around in a robe all day. That said, booking a room for yourself (and ONLY yourself) at that boutique hotel you’d only ever dreamed of staying at is the ultimate indulgence. “Instead of buying a few new items of clothes for yourself, consider making a hotel night your investment,” says Loyst, who does this a few times a year. “You can go to the gym, have a bath and watch whatever you want!”
Take a bath
Sinking into a warm bath is quite possibly one of the simplest pleasures in life. It also doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, unless you have a thing about your candles being Diptyque and can’t live without a high-end bubble bath. For a spa-like experience, essential oils—like lavender—are a must. (Remember: Essential oils are potent, so they should always be mixed with a carrier oil, like coconut, olive or argan oil.) Don’t forget a good book and a glass of wine or cup of tea.
Rekindle a forgotten hobby
If you once found joy by tearing up magazines and making giant collages or dancing alone in your house, now’s the time to pick that hobby back up. According to Loyst, partaking in a childhood activity that you’ve forgotten about can help with self-discovery. After a bad breakup, she decided to rediscover her passion for dance. “As I began moving my body again I found incredible joy,” she recalls. “It also increased my confidence, which put me in a much better mind space when I was ready to start dating again.”