Experts say this Valentine's Day is a time for self-love

Some love Valentine's Day, others loathe it - but experts say this year should be about a different kind of love. Self-love.

New data shows we're lonelier during COVID times and sales of self-help books are on the rise.

It's Valentines' Day but not as we know it. It's a global pandemic complete with QR codes, boosters, protests and rising prices - including roses.

"There's just so much doom and gloom and heaviness that we've just got to have our little light shining," says counsellor and author Leeann French.

And it's you that mental health experts say should be the focus for Valentine's Day 2022, in a year that thousands of Kiwis are searching for love in self-help books.

Book Depository says the self-help category sales have grown steadily since the onset of the pandemic.

"I think with all the Zoom calls and looking at ourselves more than usual and not being out there distracted, I think people are spending a lot of time at home and kinda going deeper within - and so you've gotta like what's in there," French says.

She says self-love manifests by having healthy, hopeful, positive thoughts, even in a pandemic.

"The loving ones don't seem to be the ones saying that there is division, we're just kinda getting on and doing the right thing and being a good person."

Ministry of Health research shows the pandemic has not only impacted our stress levels, but more than 12 percent of New Zealanders have reported feeling lonely some, most or all the time.

There are also other nice things you can do for yourself.

"Book a massage, buy a book, go for a big long walk, have special yummy food so just kinda go you're an amazing incredible creature whether you're with someone or not," French says.

Or, if you'd rather, ignore the whole thing altogether.