Three Ways to Nurture Yourself on Valentine’s Day
by Emily Beasley
When I woke up that morning I had a familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach—“butterflies”—and jumped out of bed with my heart racing. This was THE day and its details are still vivid. The entire day, which felt like an eternity, was spent in a heightened state of excitement (when you’re in second grade everything feels like an eternity). After all, I’d spent a week picking out the perfect cards for my classmates, decorating a brown paper bag to collect ones received, and agonizing over what to get the “love of my life,” my elementary sweetheart. Although I can’t recall what I gave him I do remember receiving Cracker Jack style rings (worn with pride) and one really nice ring unwillingly donated by his older sister.
I’m thankful for positive memories of Valentine’s Day, but I also realize many of us experience feelings of anxiety and dread leading up to this holiday. Regardless of our age or relationship status, it’s easy to set unrealistic expectations on this day and/or overindulge: on extravagant meals, drinks or candy. We (okay, maybe just me) may also spend too much money on gifts for our true loves—our horses. And those resolutions we made for health and wellness in 2016? A distant memory when confronted with a box of heart shaped chocolates. This year, instead of those old habits, why not love yourself intentionally on Valentine’s Day? Here are a couple of suggestions:
Plan a Special Getaway with Your Partner
I’m referring to your equine partner. Are you busy with last minute preparations for your child’s class party, or planning a romantic evening for a special someone? Instead, let someone else pick out the class Valentine’s cards (I don’t remember a single one, do you?) and plan time to love a special someone—yourself! It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Go on a trail ride, spend an hour grooming your horse, take him on a walk and let him graze, or simply turn off your phone and sit with him in the pasture. I promise, you won’t regret one second of doing something good for your body and mind.
Give Your Sweetie a Treat
A few articles ago I said that if you wouldn’t feed it to your horse don’t eat it yourself. This rule applies to Valentine’s Day. Grab some apples, carrots, or oranges (Titan loves Clementines) and share a snack with your horsey sweetheart. This may be an everyday occurrence for you, but I want you to share a treat with intention. Personally, that’s not something I do every time I give my horses a treat. This time, tell your horse how thankful you are for him/her and a specific thing you are grateful for. Take the time to appreciate the way your horse greets you and the look in its eye when you share half of your apple. Basically, enjoy the nickers, nuzzles and affection from your “one and only.”
Write a Love Letter
Grab a pen, some paper, and head to the barn. Find a space where you know you can be alone and uninterrupted. If it’s near your horse, even better. Take the time to write a love letter to yourself: the equestrian version of you (not the mother, sister, daughter, career woman, housewife, etc.). Write a love letter to this horsewoman, perhaps from the perspective of your horse, if this is easier. What would he/she say about what makes you special and talented? What might your horse admire about you?
Finally (and this one will be the hardest), tell that horsewoman what you love about her body. You’re not allowed to use the word but, as in “I love your legs, but they could be more toned.” Be specific about why you love a certain physical trait. Tell her why her body is the perfect body for a horsewoman; tell her she is absolutely beautiful and perfect. Afterward, reread the entire letter and go ride.
Often, wellness/fitness articles emphasize what should be changed or improved, what we could do differently to be “better” versions of ourselves. I imagine that if any of my animals could voice an opinion they would simply say they want me to be strong, healthy and happy. They look at me with absolute adoration and unconditional love, regardless of my appearance, body shape, or current weight. I’ve challenged myself to begin believing this, and I hope this column inspires you to do the same!
Emily is the owner of ATF Wellness and the creator of Bootcamp4Breeches: Functional Fitness for Equestrians. She coordinates the Health & Physical Education teacher education program at Louisiana State University, is past president of the Louisiana Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, teaches Yoga classes, and researches how women of all ages can develop a positive physical self-concept. She spends her free time eventing with her OTTB, Titan, and TB/Cleveland Bay cross, Bean, in Baker, LA where she and her husband share a small farm with four dogs, three cats, and three horses. You can reach her via email at email@example.com; follow her on Twitter @DrBLovesPE; or like her Facebook page, Bootcamp4Breeches: Fitness Training and Wellness Consulting.