Tu B’Av and (Self) Love

Tu B’Av may be considered a minor Jewish holiday, but it feels especially appropriate to recognize in light of the recent SCOTUS decision for marriage equality.

Tu B’Av commemorates the day peace was restored in Israel when the young women in the Tribe of Binyamin were given permission to marry other tribes’ men. Today, it is celebrated as a Jewish day of love, similar to Valentine’s Day. But mass media’s obsession with romantic love and sexuality can be overwhelming(ly heteronormative), and can feel judgmental when consumers are being constantly bombarded with images of oversexualized products and supposed “love.” Around these times of year in particular, advertisers shove a need for validation from others down our throats to sell products, when in reality, you as an individual are good enough.

If you’re struggling to find a way to show yourself some love this Tu B’Av, it may be easier than you think. It’s not necessarily about treating yourself to a new car, or a trip to Cancun, or a 5-star 4-course meal. In a world that pushes us to focus on friendships, relationships, and careers more than our own needs, sometimes the best ways to show self-love are to take care of yourself in simple ways:

1. Take a Break From Media (As Best As You Can)

We’ve already acknowledged that the root of this conflict lies in the false expectations perpetrated by the media, so the most obvious way to combat this head-on is to consciously limit your exposure to those messages. Try turning off the TV and cellphone for an hour a day to start, and open your mind to other ways you could pass the time. Spending time doing whatever makes you happy, away from the overly sexualized, hetero-centric brainwashing techniques of advertising and marketing companies, should serve as a reminder that you can find happiness and satisfaction without validation from others.

2. Keep a Journal

Keeping a genuinely honest journal every night is a great way to work some time to yourself into your routine. Document the positive, the negative, and the prospective. Recognize your accomplishments and congratulate yourself, no matter how small your victory may seem. Reflect what didn’t go so well during the day, but turn it into a constructive criticism and realize your potential to learn and grow from adversity. Don’t forget to write down something to look ahead to, like a goal or upcoming event you’re looking forward to. Writing these things down brings them to the forefront of your mind, and makes them tangible things to appreciate about yourself.

3. Meditate

Self-awareness is the key to self-love. Loving yourself doesn’t mean pushing all negativity aside, but rather accepting yourself and all of your emotions, and learning how to manage them. Sometimes, our own thoughts can feel impossible to handle, and we can become quickly overwhelmed. Meditation is a great way to validate your feelings, but also to sort through and prioritize which really need our attention and energy. A quick Internet search should lead you to an abundance of meditation guides to follow, it’s just a matter of finding one you enjoy.

4. Give Your Body What It Needs

Your physical well-being also affects your emotional and mental well-being, so it’s important to remember when showing self-love. Your body will find a way to communicate exactly what it needs to you, and the best thing you can do is listen. Make sure you’re staying hydrated, eating a wholesome and well-balanced diet, sleeping enough, and exercising. Make small changes to your snacking habits to incorporate more non-starchy vegetables. Find a physical activity you enjoy and make time for it, even if it’s just 20 minutes a day. If that’s not your thing, try adding a 20-30 minute walk to your daily commute. Park a quarter mile from your office, or walk to the next closest subway stop. You don’t have to turn your life upside down to take better care of your body.

The key with any lifestyle change, no matter how big or small, is to motivate it with self love and nothing else. Tu B’Av is one holiday to celebrate love, but you should always practice your best self-care. At the end of the day, whether you’re single, married, or anything in between, and no matter what your gender identity or sexuality, or lack thereof, the most important (secular) person to show love to, is yourself.

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