Whether you love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is coming up. From the pink displays in London’s shop windows to the couple-y reels scroll after scroll, it’s pretty unavoidable – but now’s the time to embrace it. Valentine’s Day in London, by definition, isn’t just about romantic love, but platonic love, family love, and most importantly, self-love. However, in a city of eight million people, how achievable is this?
I spoke to Michelle Elman, an accredited life coach, author, broadcaster, and public speaker about this very topic. She’s appeared on the likes of This Morning (as their resident life coach, no less), and Loose Women, and has released four best-selling books: Am I Ugly, The Joy Of Being Selfish, The Selfish Romantic, and children’s book, How To Say No. Residing in the capital herself, who better to talk to about self-love in London?
Solo days out in London
There are plenty of great things to do alone in London; Michelle encourages Londoners to check them out – and she embraces them herself. “I’m a foodie, so I’m always about a good restaurant – and London has so many. The list I have is way too long and I feel like I’m never getting to the end of it!”
Michelle’s other favoured solo days out in London include:
🎥 Going to the cinema by herself (nab £5.99 tickets here!)
🥡 Checking out the food markets.
Find your zen in London
As Michelle noted in one of her videos, the world glorifies being too busy. Show yourself self-love by finding your zen in London. Michelle’s zen place is in London’s Hyde Park on the bridge over the Serpentine. This was initially borne out of a negative experience; she described standing on the bridge one summer and thinking “I’m not in a good place right now, but one day, I’m going to be one of those happy people on the pedalos.”
Delight your inner child
Healing your inner child is a practice favoured by some life coaches, including Michelle. Inner child work focuses on addressing needs that were unmet as children, be they relatively small or rather serious.
Activities that delight Michelle’s inner child are centred all around movement. “[Sport] was associated with punishment as a child… or the need to be good enough to continue.” She spoke about enjoying particular sports, but then not being able to be on the teams as she wasn’t good enough; something that resonated with me too – and I’m sure many of us in the capital. “Now, even just dancing in the kitchen taps into my inner child.”
There are plenty of nostalgic, inner-child-pleasing activities to do in London, including Bubble Planet and Dopamine Land.
Dates – and with mates!
Self love isn’t all about doing things alone – you can show yourself love by spending time with people who ‘fill your cup up’ too. Michelle noted how often “activities just sit on an imagined list – just actually book it and go“.
Michelle listed some of her favourite mate date spots in London:
🍳 Cooking classes – Michelle described attending cooking classes with a date (specifically a dim sum class) and with a group. “Cooking classes unleash a different type of creativity,” she noted. Discover your inner chef and book one of these cooking classes.
🪴 Pottery classes – another one tried and tested by Michelle, who again credits the creativity (despite the teacher having to redo hers as it was falling apart).
♨️ Hot tub in the canals, or paddle boarding on the Thames – Michelle rated these out-of-the-box date ideas, best enjoyed with a bunch of mates.
A final word
Overall, Michelle stated self love, in London or elsewhere, is all about validating yourself. If you feel something, good or bad, don’t doubt yourself: let yourself feel it. “If you don’t listen when your body whispers, it will scream.”
Also, she noted, you can’t expect others to do things for you if you don’t do it for yourself – and her analogies were stark. She spoke about buying herself flowers for the first time, and realising they’re not extortionate. Another was about lighting the nice candles, and making the room cosy to watch TV when guests come over, but not for herself. “The end of the sentence ‘too nice to use’ is ‘too nice to use by myself’, and it really shouldn’t be.
“What are we telling ourselves? Do we not deserve the good stuff?”