Why you should focus on self-care this Valentine’s Day

Before the pandemic, the wellness sector was booming.

Self-care was on the rise but mainly considered a luxury, often including things like face masks, bubble baths and decadent, multi-step skincare routines. In this way, it was more of a band-aid solution all about exterior appearances than a necessity or something that pulsed deep in your soul.  

Once considered a luxury, now we don’t spend our time and money on the same type of frivolous “self-care”—we do a more holistic iteration of it as an act of self-preservation.

With many working from home and in the perpetual yo-yo of lockdown, your typical morning commute, Starbucks run and morning greetings at the office, have now been squished down into the 300 ft. from your bed to your kitchen counter, where you’re making your own coffee and greeting your roommate, partner or furry friend (turned work assistant).

Your daily spin class of 40+ sweaty people is long gone, and now you log into your Peloton – whose stocks have gone up 350% since the beginning of last year, when COVID-19 hit. Or maybe you log into one of your many fitness apps whose subscriptions have skyrocketed as many gyms are closed, restricted or somewhere in between. 

It has long been known that the concept of moving your body helps with not only your physical self, but also your mental health and emotional well-being. A daily workout or even a walk around the neighbourhood might have once been something to fall by the wayside for a bit of extra sleep or another episode of TV, but these days, exercise provides the kind of self-care that we are in dire need of—one that boosts our levels of serotonin. 

“As the pandemic relentlessly persists, we are seeing the highest levels of anxiety and depression reported since the pandemic hit the U.S. in March,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America.

Our collective mental health is taking a hit and we need to continue to care for ourselves better and with more diligence. It’s no secret that everyone is struggling—even therapists are having trouble keeping up with the demand. 

“My caseload has gone up by about 40 per cent since the pandemic started.” said Shaun Ali, clinical therapist and social worker.

With the inability to see friends and family, go to movies and restaurants, and do most outside-the-home hobbies, we are starved for connection. And no, work Zoom calls don’t count! 

Talking to a friend or family member and, if possible, a licensed therapist are all important forms of self-care right now, with our constant isolation and inability to gather outside (for those of you who live in the chilly north). 

With Zoom and Google Hangouts being some of the most popular meeting platforms, focus has shifted away from in-person necessities, like heavy makeup and handbags, setting its sights instead on loungewear, skincare and the jewellery market.

According to loungewear company, Desmond & Dempsey, they have experienced a 230% increase in sales in 2020.

Taking care of ourselves is a way to regain some semblance of control in a situation we have very little control over. One of the only things we have control over is ourselves and our perception, which is why we must take every step we can to continue to dive deep into meaningful self-care, for our bodies, minds and spirits.