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By Hannah Connolly
nce again Valentine's Day is on the horizon, and if I'm being honest, it's never been my favourite day of the year. I've always seen it as an uncomfortable 24 hour pink and red haze of love this and love that… and not to be a cynic, it's just never really suited me.
When I was younger I was never the one to have notes pouring from my school bag, in fact, for a long while, the only valentines I was getting was from my family (thanks mum for that one), and subsequent awkward teenage years spent in the closet meant Valentine's Day made me feel a whole lot uncomfortable.
Then came the happy days of relationships past where I felt the pressure to think up a non-cheesy yet somehow heartfelt display of love which never really hit the mark. I've also opted for the "we love each everyday we don't need to shout about it today" approach which seemed right on paper, but after not receiving so much as a card still ended up stinging.
I've had the sob with your friends "we will be alone forever" red wine cry when, heaven forbid, Valentine's Day lands on a weekend. I've had the situationship sudden radio silence the week of experience, and this year I am about to have my first post-break up, single Valentine's Day in three years.
So granted, I might (will) have a little (big) cry, but I have decided this year I am shifting my perspective. No more will I dread the day of giant teddy bears and a dozen red roses (though a giant teddy bear is something I quite literally never want, future loves take note).
No, this year, I am making Valentine's Day about relationships beyond the romantic —this year it's all about the connections I have with my friends, my family and perhaps most importantly, myself.
Being single, being coupled off, being somewhere in between— whatever it is — they all require some work and one of the most important things to work on, and the thing that will feed into all of the above, is the relationship you have with yourself.
So this year, I am embracing Valentine's Day in a whole new way. In fact, I am staring February 14th right in its rose tinted eyes and jumping in headfirst. I am making plans with my friends and I am checking in with myself, and if you are a cynic like me, might I suggest you do the same.
Here, we've rounded up the things you could be doing over the next week to romance yourself and the people in your life you love the most.
The Friend Date
A little obvious, yes, but a good idea? Absolutely. Romancing your friends is just as important and should receive as much attention as you would give to a significant other. If there's one thing I have learnt in the last 25 years, it's that friendship is one of the most important contributing factors to pretty much every facet of your life - so honour that.
This year Valentine's Day is landing on a Tuesday, so whether you want to invite your close circle round to yours on the day, or head out for a belated celebration at the weekend, check in to see what everyone has planned and get a date in the diary.
The Love (Af)Fair
If you are looking to indulge in some independently owned businesses as a treat for yourself or for the people in your life that mean the most to you, then the No Ordinary Love pop-up at One Hundred Shoreditch is the place to go. Running from the 11th of February to the 8th of March, consider this a one stop shop for all your self-love needs.
Expect an art installation from Polly Verity, who is famous for her folded paper sculptures of intimate kissing portraits. ILOH is attendance (a hero brand for us) founded by Stack World member Jemma Sawyer, representing the UK's first sexual health and wellbeing products designed by women for women. Lingerie is another great self-love treat, and Miss Crofton will be there to bring the goods. If you want to buy yourself some blooms (I know certainly will be, and so what if my room is starting to look a bit Miss Havisham…), U.FL.O (Unidentified Floral Objects) is bringing the bunches as well as the world renowned McQueen's Flowers.
That's not all, if you've got your fill of retail therapy the No Ordinary Love pop up also features a line up of exciting events. Including Katie Leamon's Love Letter Writing Station, and Natalie Lee aka @StylemeSunday, is hosting the "Feeling Myself Workshops" which will discuss everything from shedding shame to reconnecting with ourselves. Whilst, Becky Douglas of the Big Love Movement is hosting the I AM LOVE workshop on Sunday 12th February for two hours of empowering self-care exploration as well as much, much more. Check out the full programming here.
The Take Yourself Out
Again, obvious, but important — take yourself out on a date, seriously. I am planning on a little dinner for me, myself and I. On paper this might seem a little lonely, but the art of dining solo is one of the greatest treats you can give yourself once you get over the first time. A book, a glass of wine and some good food can really be the ultimate way to spend some time with yourself and often a refreshing chance to be at peace with your own company.
Now, I'll be honest I am not planning on doing this on Valentine's Day itself nor the weekend, but mid-week I'm going to Rochelle Canteen. Conde Nast Traveller is a fan of this spot for a solo-date too and the menu isn't inexpensive but it isn't wallet busting either (starters around £10, mains about £22, and a glass of wine under £10, so if played right you can eat and have a drink all in for under £45).
This doesn't have to mean dinner, a solo date can be anything that brings you some joy, an art gallery visit, or just a good wander around town — whatever it is, book some time in for you.
The Family First
Remember to show a little love to your family this time of year, amongst the great loves of our lives are the bonds we have with matriarchs of our families. We all love to feel appreciated, so even a phone call to say how much a relative means to you on the 14th can have a huge impact for the person at the other end of the line.
The treat your work besties
This time of year can be a bit lonely at the best of times. Work gets back into full swing as the new year warming up fades away, and though the sun sets a little later it’s still pretty dark out. A lot of us spend a huge amount of time with our colleagues, especially if you are at least part back at the office but we may forget to nurture those relationships.
So, if you're going to be office based this Tuesday why not pick up a little early week treat for everyone? At The Stack we’re based on The Strand and if you are anywhere nearby, Bageriet bakery has some of the best pastries in town… So grab a few things and make a point of having a little morning chat before diving into work, you’ll be surprised how much a gesture of this kind can brighten everyone's day.
The Cathartic Acceptance
This ones for anyone that thinks they are going to have a tough time this Valentine's Day. Now I prefix this with the fact and I am no expert, simply sharing my approach, but you know what, it's okay to accept there's a little bit of pain (or a lot). If you need a cry go ahead and do it, get it out there, just don't let it be the last thing you do this Valentine's Day — show those closest to you some love and importantly, dare to show yourself a little bit too.
Happily in a couple, confidently single, or fresh from a breakup, February 14th has always filled me with dread that's why this year I am prioritising non-romantic relationships and creating a new one with Valentine's Day.
By Hannah Connolly
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