Dreading the arrival of Valentine’s Day this year?
It’s easy to feel cynical and left out from what can seem like a giant party for twos, if you think of the day as a celebration of only romantic love. However, love is so much bigger than courtship. It’s about relationships. Our relationships with individuals, our communities, and with ourselves. Most importantly, love is defined by how we honor these relationships. So check out these tips to learn how you can broaden your perception of the meaning behind the day, and avoid missing out on the opportunity to celebrate the love in your life.
1) Embrace the day as your best self. Start the day by showering with an aromatic body wash or soap to awaken your senses. Orange, apple, and ginger fragrances are natural energizers and effective stimulating agents. Afterwards, follow up with an emollient body creme to soothe and rehydrate skin chaffed by dry winter air, and then package yourself in an ensemble that exudes confidence.
2) Unbeknownst to many is that what we eat plays a huge role in our emotional states. So, make sure that your menu for the day is nutritious and balanced. The candies and cakes traditionally associated with Valentine’s Day are full of refined sugars that cause blood sugar levels to soar and then fall drastically. The initial spike triggers the release of serotonin and dopamine, the “happy” neurotransmitters, so for a brief period after eating them we are on top of the world, and feel like we can do anything. Unfortunately, this sugar high can’t last, because insulin steps in to literally crash the party, and sugar levels plummet, bringing dopamine down with it. High serotonin levels without the presence of sugar and dopamine can leave us feeling anxious, agitated, confused or drowsy. Definitely not ideal for anyone who is bummed about being single on Valentine’s Day. One way to counteract the effects of this sugar rollercoaster is to consume at least one protein-rich food like nuts, eggs and milk at every meal. Protein helps to slow down the rate at which sugar from the carbs is released into the blood. So go ahead and enjoy a few chocolates, but be sure to balance them out with plenty of protein, fruits and vegetables.
3) Purchase fresh flowers for your home, office or both. Not because you want it to appear that you have a Valentine who gave you flowers, but, because the presence of floral displays provides multiple life benefits. It is common knowledge that looking at pretty things makes us happy, so it should be no surprise that research suggests that there’s a link between flowers and positive mood. A lesser known finding, however, is that flowers have an enduring positive impact on mood that lasts for weeks after encountering blooms. What’s more is that research suggests that flowers enhance cognitive functioning, which can improve work performance.
4) Regardless of how tempted you might be not to do so, avoid social media on Valentine’s Day. While addictive and entertaining, these networking accounts give us positively skewed impressions of one another’s lives. There are always exceptions, but most people only post updates that portray themselves favorably. Such flawed perceptions can send even the most emotionally secure singleton into a dismal spiral of self doubt and second guesses. So, even if you’re just the occasional lurker who finds yourself with time to kill while sitting in a doctor’s waiting area this Valentine’s Day, don’t check your news feed. Put away your smart device. Douse yourself in hand sanitizer, and grab a magazine from the pile of coffee table literature, instead. Better to take your chances in the war against the germs and superbugs floating around the doctor’s office, than to risk seeing your media thread flooded with romantic dedications and snaps of floral arrangements, candy deliveries and balloon bouquets. While it’s true that seeing such things will give you more reasons to be happy for the three dozen or so algorithmically filtered friends that appear in your feed, doing so also increases the odds that you’ll be subliminally fooled into thinking that almost everyone on the planet is in a fulfilling romantic relationship, except you. And that’s simply not true. Just ask your other 500 friends who didn’t make the algorithmic cut.
5) Although one of the perks of a new relationship is having someone to introduce you to new things, you don’t have to wait to find a companion before you embark on a new adventure. This Valentine’s Day, get to know another side of yourself by trying something different. Sign up for a segway tour and see your community from a new perspective or drop in on that yoga class you pass by every night on your evening commute. Prefer something that requires less physical exertion? Learning a new language or to play an instrument are not only low-impact activities, but they keep your mind sharp and are associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s Dementia. If you’re more of an introvert and put off by group settings, consider hiring a private instructor for one of the aforementioned activities or something completely different. Regardless of how you approach it, incorporating something new into your daily routine can only serve to enrich your relationship with yourself and embolden you to embrace the unexpected in the future.
6) A big part of self-love is knowing how to take a time-out, relax, and pamper yourself. Unfortunately, many of today’s single go-getters have a poor work-life balance, and rarely make time to unplug and adequately recharge. Without rest, it’s easy to overextend oneself and fall victim to burnout. Therefore, a Valentine’s Day mani/pedi, massage, skin treatment, or any combination of the three is the perfect restorative treat and a soothing reminder that downtime is an undeniable necessity for continued success. So whether you seize the entire day or just block off a few hours after work, make sure to indulge in a bit of personal TLC. Your future self will thank you for it!
7) Instead of moping or lamenting that you don’t have Valentine’s Day plans, use the time that your colleagues are spending lunching or dining with their Valentines to be professionally productive and focused. Embrace this romantic void as an opportunity to get ahead on a project or educate yourself more about the department or entire company in which you work. If you’ve been thinking about a career change, now’s your chance to research other positions, update your resume, and/or revise your cover letter.
8) Write yourself a love note including all the things you love about yourself. Not sure where to start? Imagine all the things you would want someone else to appreciate about you and put in writing, if he or she were writing the letter. The better able you are to identify your personal assets, the less dependent on others for personal validation you will become.
9) Give your digs a mini-makeover! Your home is your sanctuary and an extension of you, so treat it well. Just as it’s important to nurture yourself and your spirit, refreshing your living space from time to time is also an essential part of holistic self care. Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to set aside some time to honor yourself in this manner. Purchase new bed linens, towels, or throw pillows for your living room. Even something as simple as changing a room’s color scheme can alter the mood elicited by the space. If life has left your home a bit on the untidy side, use this time to declutter and reorganize. Whatever you decide, arrange your home in a manner that both fosters serenity and invigorates your soul.
10) Couples use Valentine’s Day as excuse to go away for the weekend or for a mini vacation all the time. You can too! Identify a place you’ve always wanted to visit and take yourself on a trip. Not only is it a good way to be away from home and miss the absence of a flower delivery, but it’s an opportunity to learn and see something new while decompressing from the stress of the mundane. The life experience will also serve to make you a more well-rounded person and significantly increase your social capital.
11) When we’re focused on what we’re missing, sometimes our perspective gets skewed and it’s easy to lose sight of all the things we have going for us. For many singles, Valentine’s Day is a blatant reminder of the love that is missing from their lives. However, in reality, it’s actually only romantic love that is absent. Therefore, it’s often helpful to take stock of all the people in your life for whom you are grateful, and let them know. Sending a friend or relative a Valentine not only brightens their day, but may very likely benefit you, as well. Research has shown that altruistic behavior stimulates pleasure centers in the brain and provides us with a sense of purpose, needfulness and universal connectedness.
12) Sometimes the benefits of altruism can extend beyond your immediate circle. Volunteering in your community is an excellent way to spread the love. Use this evening to help out at a shelter, assisted living facility, children’s recreation center or hospital. If advanced registration is required, and you are not registered, use this time to do so and get involved in the future. Not only will those you assist benefit from your good deeds, but you will likely reap the beneficial side effects of assisting others as described above.
13) If you’re disappointed that you weren’t invited out to dinner, order carry-out from your favorite restaurant or that new five star in town you’ve been dying to try. Don’t wait for someone else to wine and dine you, show yourself some love. In fact, I often advise singles to make reservations and take themselves out to dinner (on days other than Valentine’s Day —being an island of one in a sea of couples who are in fact celebrating their coupledom, is probably counterproductive to the spirit of this entry). However, on almost any other day of the year, dining and embarking on other adventures alone helps you to become more secure in your own company and less dependent on others for validation and fulfillment. Similarly, indulging in a delectable meal at home on Valentine’s Day in a cozy and familiar atmosphere perpetuates the development of a healthy relationship with yourself. The better you care for yourself while you are single, the more you will have to offer a romantic relationship once you are in one.
14) Smile. That’s it. Really, it’s that simple. Even if you can’t think of one single reason to do so today, give your jaw muscles a little stretch back towards your ears and see what happens. Research has shown that making a delicate half-smile, relaxes facial muscles and sends messages to triggers the brain to release chemicals that enhance mood and alter your body’s autonomic response (hear rate and blood pressure) for the better.