02/13/2018 15:49 EST | Updated 02/13/2018 16:01 EST

This Valentine’s Day, Nurture Yourself

While I am a romantic at heart, I don't find meaning in a commercial holiday such as Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day is upon us. It is the time when we focus on love, marriage, chocolate, flowers, Hallmark cards and candlelight dinners.

For me, Valentine's Day happens to also be my grandmother's birthday. She passed away peacefully this summer. This will be the first year in decades that I will not pick up the phone to call her to wish her a happy birthday. I now realize, in writing this blog, that in all the times I spoke to her on her birthday, she never let me know how she felt about Valentine's Day.

While I'm a romantic at heart, I don't find meaning in a commercial holiday like Valentine's Day. Sure, it can be fun and, at times, exciting (especially when I was younger). But, I know it also brings unrealistic fantasies and expectations of others. It can put undue pressure on relationships.

For single people, it can be especially difficult emotionally. It can lead to, or amplify, feelings of loneliness, alienation, even depression.

And so, regardless of whether you are in a relationship or single, instead of, or in addition to, partaking in the commercial aspects of this holiday, take advantage of this day to do something for yourself.

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Young beautiful woman making a heart shape by hands in the mirror. Selective soft focus on hand.

Here are five things to nurture yourself this Valentine's Day that are free.

Write a list of your accomplishments

Do yourself a favour: go back as far as you can remember, and write down every accomplishment of yours that has made you proud. This exercise will help remind you of how much you've done in your life and how far you've come along in your journey. It also may spark new ideas for things you want to try in the future.

Take a long, warm bath

Pamper yourself with a soothing, warm bath with candles and music. The Canadian winter is tough on our bodies, so take some time for yourself just to relax, clear your mind and be in the moment.

Read poetry

Poets have long expressed their hearts, both pain and pleasure, in ways others cannot. It will stimulate your mind and may move you emotionally. There is plenty of poetry available free online. Or browse through a bookstore or library. If you need some ideas, consider the Rumi, and English Romantic poets, such as Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley.

Go for a walk

We know that walking is good for the body, mind and spirit. It is meditative, and free. So get your winter boots and toque on, and take a walk through a park you have never been to, or stroll through a new neighbourhood. Walking can help you find inner peace or get your creative juices flowing.

Count your blessings

The best gift you can give yourself is to be grateful for all that you have and don't have; for all the people in your life, and for those who are not. The more we are grateful for, the more we have to appreciate. So count your blessings.

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