It wasn't too long ago we were in the middle of the usual Christmas chaos coupled with the current coronavirus pandemic and shoppers were climbing over each other in supermarkets for turkey, Christmas pudding and let's not forget toilet roll. Meanwhile, the supermarkets were subtly packing out their shelves for the next special occasion, Valentine's Day, with chocolates, pillows, cards and cute ways to say "I love you".
As much as every person in the world is different, love is universal and something that most of us can relate to in some capacity. Whether that be being loved or being in love, we know what love is and how it feels, or at least we have an understanding of what displays of love can look like.
For some, it may be our favourite breakfast served in bed this Valentine's Day, laid on a tray that's decorated with a beautifully handwritten card or single red rose. For someone else it may be "I must have you now", passionate lovemaking on the kitchen counter and for others, it may be "Text me when you get home so I know you're okay".
Love is something we can often be quick to seek from others, whether it be from friends, partners or befriended strangers on social media and in exchange, we can be inclined to give our love away, sometimes a little too easily, forgetting to keep some for ourselves, we are the ones who often need it the most.
We've been through so much with Covid putting us through the paces and a lot of people are dealing with added stress and uncertainty. Some are struggling on furlough or dealing with the sad reality of losing their job. Others are struggling with home schooling or working from home and yet, a lot of us are being hard on ourselves for not doing more - for not baking banana bread like others we've seen on social media or for not making TikTok videos.
A lot of us are giving ourselves a hard time for not having the motivation to be more physically active and in place of star jumps and jumping squats, our only exercise being the steps to the kitchen to pour another glass of wine or fetch another snack.
People are feeling guilty for not spending their time more "productively", for not reading a 30-long "must read before you die" book list, or neglecting to take up a new hobby such as gardening or DIY home improvements.
Whether you allow your children to entertain themselves with games consoles or watch TV in place of completing a mountain of mathematics homework, partly because you don't know how to help with the answer, or if you have went up a dress size as the gym is closed and you find yourself comforting eating because you miss your life as you knew it and loved, please stop being so hard on yourself.
Pandemic or not, our life and responsibilities have not stopped and we are faced with the challenge to manage everyday life with our "new normal".
Valentine's Day, a day to celebrate and express love, looks different for everyone. Some people may enjoy spending it with a partner sharing a dine in meal for two with drinks and dessert, while others may choose to belt out power ballads to a beloved pet after a few gins.
Whatever your love life looks like; married, divorced, or single and swiping right, it is important to make time to show yourself some love this Valentine's Day.
Love your efforts. Love your strength and resilience. Love your mind. Love your sense of style. Love your hair despite maybe feeling the desperate need for a cut, colour and blow dry. Love your bum, your nose, your stomach. Love your body for its beauty and its strength for carrying you through your darkest and best days.
Treat yourself and indulge in the food you love, enjoy your favourite music and if you feel like you need permission, please go ahead and buy yourself whatever it is that you keep putting in your online shopping basket only to close the window.
Sometimes we get so caught up and distracted by who and what needs our attention and affection that we often can neglect ourselves.
You, as much as anyone you love and care for are as worthy of your love. Take time and make the effort to show yourself the love you so deserve because self love isn't selfish, it's essential.
THE LOVES IN NUALA'S LIFE
I'm Nuala and I enjoy day naps followed by short walks to the kitchen to pour a glass of red wine. I share my life with my husband Johnny and our much loved adopted Beagles, Alfie and Dave. I use social media to talk about life, health, particularly mental health and I'm passionate about promoting body positivity and self love via my blog From Phat to Phabulous.