The name of Valentine’s Day may have its origins in ancient Rome with the grisly history of Emperor Claudius II executing two men with the name of Valentine on February 14, 240 A.D. Legend has it that one of the two doomed men cared for his fellow prisoners and the blind daughter of one of his jailors before being executed. This Valentine was canonized two hundred years later and February 14 was established as the feast day for St. Valentine. The poet Geoffrey Chaucer of The Canterbury Tales fame was the first to make connection between St. Valentine’s day and romantic love in the Middle Ages. Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many cultures and has expanded from a focus on romantic love to include demonstrations of love for family and acts of appreciation for friends.
What better way to show your appreciation for friends, clients, partners, colleagues and the people with whom you work to do something good for yourself? Superficially, that may sound like a tangent off the point of Valentine’s Day, but I think it is right on the mark. You would be sending the message of affection and care to everyone in your life by making a commitment to do something healthy for yourself. This could be anything from exercising 150 minutes (or more or less) every week, or by taking a class or two of yoga every week, or simply getting outside at least once a day for a short walk. Not only will any and all of these activities make you feel better, but they will help reduce your stress, clear and center your mind and pave the way for you to be more productive at work. Annoyed by the cranky older partner down the hall and his approach to a firm management issue? Go for a walk during a portion of your lunch break and let the fresh air and gentle exercise free your mind to return to consider new ideas on how to solve the problem. Grappling with a particularly difficult legal issue in one of your cases? An early morning run isn’t just good for your heart and lungs; it gives you time alone to let your mind focus where it needs to and problem solve very effectively.
Self-care is also not something that should be relegated to the “I don’t have time” dust bin. The gift of self-care benefits you, your clients, everyone you work with and encounter during every day, and your family and friends. It matters less what activity you chose and much more that you do something you like (or, at least, something that from the onset does not bore, irritate or sicken you) and that you can see yourself incorporating into your daily routine.
So, this Valentine’s Day, be creative. Do something special to take care of yourself as a way of expressing your care and concern for the ones you love, for your clients and for everyone with whom you work.