By Ashley Manta

You can’t walk into a grocery store without seeing at least one aisle overflowing with red-and-white hearts, stuffed animals, cards, candy, and various love-related accoutrements. Yes, it’s that time of year — Valentine’s Day. For those of us who are single, in a long-distance relationship, solo poly, or some other version of not-going-to-be-with-a-partner-on-V-Day, this is for you. Some people find this time of year incredibly stressful. Others find it alienating and lonely. Still others find it empowering. Here are my top tips for self-care (and self-pleasure!) if you’re flying solo on Valentine’s Day this year.

1. Do something that brings you joy.

Do you love horseback riding? Going to the spa? Playing video games for hours on end? Do it! The best part about being alone on V-Day is that you can take all of that money/time/effort that you may have showered on another person and use it for yourself! Take a painting class, or a cooking class, or a scuba lesson!

2. Practice self-care.

That can look different for different people, but a few self-care ideas might include taking a hot bath with a THC-infused bath bomb, meditating, reading a book, getting a massage, connecting with people you love, gardening, singing out loud to your favorite playlist, or playing in the snow. Self-care could mean doing nothing at all. I mean it. Stay in PJs, lay around in bed, and binge watch Netflix. No one is judging you. As my friend and fellow sex educator Bianca Jarvis notes, “I love turning down invites and obligations to focus on what I really need. Alone time is key. I have a tendency to overcommit both socially and professionally due to FOMO: fear of missing out. But cutting my plans in half does wonders for my sanity, and sometimes turning off my devices and spending the night lying in bed, relaxing, reading and listening to music is more enjoyable than going out. I find that edibles can really help me slow down enough to focus on self care instead of an obsessive need to feel busy all the time.”

3. Treat yourself.

Buy that high tech vaporizer you’ve been coveting. Go to your dispensary and get the best cannabis you can afford. Try something new, like live resin, which some call the caviar of concentrates. Be self-indulgent, in whatever ways feel best.

4. Laugh.

Laugh until your sides hurt. Laugh until you have tears streaming down your cheeks. Laughter has been proven to decrease stress, improve your immune system, and even relieve pain. Go to a comedy show. Watch your favorite stoner movie (How High and Half Baked are two of my favorites). Get on YouTube and watch animals doing cute things. Make plans with your best friend and do something fun and silly. I recently got super stoned and went to the Long Beach Aquarium. I cannot explain to you how absurd blowfish look when you’re high.

5. Be gentle with yourself.

It’s easy to feel dejected and frustrated when everyone around you seems to be having the time of their lives. Just remember, you’re comparing your life to everyone else’s highlight reel. Think about the proportion of your life that you share on social media as compared to the totality of your life. It’s a pretty small percentage, right? Try to keep that in mind when you’re seeing all of the gushy romantic stuff circulating on your Facebook feed. If it does bring things up for you, give yourself permission to feel whatever you’re feeling. Journal about it, smoke about it, laugh about it, cry about it, then reflect on how you can find joy and contentment today. Yes, today. Not when you get that promotion, not when you get in shape, not when the kids are grown. Today.

6. Practice self-love.

Yes, that kind of self-love. Get some quality lube, light some candles, and spend some time finding all of your hot-button spots. Perhaps you like slow, gentle touch. Maybe you prefer the touch to be rougher or with more pressure. You might even like a little bit of both. Experiment! Try new things! Buy a sex toy! In the words of sex geek Reid Mihalko, “professional tools yield professional results.” Using a toy offers a chance to experience new sensations like vibration or temperature play.

Even if you’re not with a partner, there are a plethora of things you can do to make V-Day an enjoyable experience. How do you make Valentine’s Day fun and relaxing when you’re on your own?

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