A New Way to Celebrate Valentine’s

Over coffee Sunday morning, I was discussing with my friend and colleague Dr. Sarah Kyle, LCSW, some ideas for group activities for Valentine’s Day. Sarah and I have shared a love for groups and have built the bulk of our practices using group therapy as a primary modality. Sarah and I spent some time reminiscing a bit about IMG_0166Valentines’ Day. I have always loved this holiday because (let’s be honest here) I am a girly-girl and any celebration that involves hearts, flowers and pink, I’m in! During my single (and somewhat desperate) years, I wasn’t as eager to celebrate the day of “love”; however, I would usually plan something fun for all my single gal pals. Sarah’s view of Valentine’s Day is a bit more cynical, as she thinks you shouldn’t wait for a holiday to share your sentiments with those you love. However, she too believes it’s a good day to renew your commitment to self-care.


After our trip down memory lane, Sarah and I came up with a way to celebrate V-day that anyone can do with some simple tools. Instead of creating a Valentine’s Day box , we decided it would be a great idea to create a box of self-compassion. Kristen Neff, Ph.D., is a professor at UT Austin who has spent a majority of her career researching and practicing self-compassion. She determined that self-compassion has three main components: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Using our Valentine’s Day self-compassion box we will set ourselves up to exercise all three. As Dr. Neff would say, this is a practice, so having your V-day box around at anytime would be helpful.

Here are the steps to creating your self-compassion box:

  • austin-valentinesFirst, find some type of container. We purchased a basket at Michaels; however, you can use any container such as a shoebox or plastic crate.
  • To demonstrate the first concept, self-kindness (do I speak to myself like I would speak to someone I love?), we took some post-it notes and wrote ourselves some kind words. We posted these around the inside of the box so we can read them in the future. We also looked at some candy conversation hearts, which also say some pretty encouraging things. Feel free to put these candy hearts in your box. (Saying “You Rock” to yourself might sound corny, but it’s challenging not to smile while you’re saying it!)
  • To represent the second concept, common humanity (the idea that you are not alone in your suffering), write down the lyrics of a song that you connect with. This is another helpful way to remind yourself that others experience the same emotions you do. Even though you can’t fit an entire playlist into your self-compassion box, the lyrics of one or two special songs can be nurturing when you’re feeling down.

The third concept we will represent in our boxes is the idea of mindfulness, or simply paying attention. You can put in some cotton swabs of a scent you love, a piece of chocolate to be fully savored, some nail polish to remind you to take time for a pedicure, or a picture of the outdoors to entice you out into nature.

Once you’ve created your self-compassion box, keep it in a location where you will see it often and open it up when you need a boost. Happy Valentine’s Day!

To learn more about Sarah’s awesome Tulum retreat, check out her website at her website