Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it.
The fancy heart-shaped candy boxes and greeting cards have been stocking the store shelves since the day after Christmas.
Television advertisements are pushing love related products in hopes they can profit from this holiday. Restaurants are offering Valentine’s Day specials, flower companies are offering roses in every color, and your head is spinning trying to sort through all of this love madness. You are feeling the pressure to participate but you don’t even understand why this holiday exists in the first place.
It may help if you understand the origins of Valentine’s Day, which was created to honor the Roman God of Fertility. That’s right, fertility, not love. That should make a lot of you guys out there think twice before spending that extra money on gifts.
The truth is, the gifts you get or give on Valentine’s Day do not prove how much someone loves you or doesn’t love you. It just means they bought you a gift, or didn’t, on a day that is touted as the one day each year they are supposed to buy you a gift. The gifts you receive on all of the other days of the year tell you the truth about how that person feels. If you get flowers delivered to you on a random day in November, for no particular reason, then that is true love.
I know what you are thinking. It is still nice to be made to feel special on Valentine’s Day. Okay, you’re right. Everyone wants to feel special on this particular holiday. But guess what? You do not need someone else to make you feel special on Valentine’s Day. The best romantic partner you can ever have for yourself is YOU.
There are many ways to be your own Valentine and make February 14th a day to remember all by yourself.
Just for this one day, detach from all technology. No cell phone, iPad, laptop, desktop or any other type of technology. One reason is that looking at a computer screen, no matter how big or small, can lower the levels of melatonin in your system and make it hard to get good rest. Without good sleep, your mental health will suffer because your brain doesn’t get the time and energy it needs to repair your mind and body from the day. A second reason is that you cannot fully focus on yourself if you are dealing with messages, texts or emails.
This Valentine’s Day, vow to be tech-free, so you can enjoy the rest of the activities to their fullest extent. Technology is a huge distraction. If your phone is in your pocket or handbag, you are bound to check it every few minutes. If you are waiting more than five minutes somewhere, at a restaurant or doctor’s office, you will most likely get on your device to pass the time. So for just this one day, give yourself a break from technology and any distractions it may cause.
Too much technology has been proven to lead to depression, distraction and impaired social skills. Taking a break from computers, cell phones and other technology can help you reconnect to the real world. You will be surprised just how revitalized you will feel by taking just one day off from technology.
Take the Day Off
You read that correctly. It is good for your mental health to take a day off from work every once in a while. Work is stressful and you need a break from that level of stress. You need a break from the co-workers, the clients, and even your boss. What better day to take off than Valentine’s Day. You are already agreeing to be technology free and by working, that would be hard to do. So, take the day off from work and remind all of your colleagues that you will not be answering any calls or emails. When they call or text you and they will, do not answer.
Your co-workers will survive one day without you and you will survive without coming to their rescue. In fact, they need to know how to function without you. It is not healthy for your entire workforce to become dependent on you. They need to know how to continue succeeding even if you aren’t there. And if you aren’t taking good care of your mental health, there will be many more days that you can’t be there.
Don’t Set an Alarm
Sleep in this Valentine’s Day. You aren’t going to work anyway so why bother setting an alarm? Your body has its own alarm clock and will wake up on its own when it feels fully refreshed and recovered. Sleep is so good for your mental health. Disorders such as anxiety, depression and even bipolar have been linked to sleeping problems.
You probably know from experience that being tired causes you to get less work done, causes mood swings, and a lack of focus. During sleep, your brain tells your body to recuperate from all of the damage done to it from everyday living. If your sleep is not productive, you will not be productive. So catch some extra zees on your day off.
Soak it up
After you wake up naturally, soak in a warm bath. Get your day going with a bath that will revitalize you and make you feel happy to get out into the world. Use essential oils to get you feeling refreshed. Scents such as lemon, lavender and peppermint help reduce brain fog and give you mental clarity.
To get your brain as healthy as possible, use these scents along with frankincense, rosemary and thyme. A healthy brain can make all the difference you between having a great day and a not so great day.
Baths are not only good for your brain and mental clarity, they are good for all your body parts, getting rid of dead cells and making room for new cells. Listening to some calming music while soaking can also get you in the perfect mood for having a great, fun-filled day.
Just Try It
Your brain needs to learn new things. It likes to learn new things because it keeps the brain refreshed and challenged, making it easier to absorb new information. Think of an activity to challenge your brain and just try it.
Learning new things can increase your self-esteem, giving you more confidence. The more confidence you have, the happier you can be. The more knowledge you have the less fear and anxiety you will have. Often, we fear the unknown. Educating ourselves in new areas can conquer this fear.
There are many activities to help you learn and improve mental well-being such as cooking, repairing items or visiting museums. Whether you learn a new craft, read a new book or take a tour of a new neighborhood, find something creative and fun to do on Valentine’s Day this year. Don’t be afraid to learn something new on your own. You don’t necessarily have to attend a class in person. You can also go to the public library and check out a book on a new subject. Get creative and learn something totally different than you would normally learn. Have fun doing this, which leads to the next idea.
Don’t be so serious. Find ways to laugh because laughter has been found to have healing powers. The Cancer Centers of America have been known to incorporate laughing techniques into their treatments because of the overall power laughing can have on the body.
Laughing can lower blood pressure, relieves stress and believe it or not, laughing can burn calories. This is all the more reason to start laughing today.
Laughing and participating in activities that make you smile have been shown to reduce anxiety and ease depressive symptoms.
So visit a comedy club, rent a funny movie or just spend time thinking of funny memories.
Eating free does not mean don’t pay for your meal. Eating free means to eat without time limits and eat without influence. Too often you are rushed through a meal, especially breakfast, so you can get to work on time. Or, you are eating out with friends and they influence what choices you make. Maybe you choose a salad because you think your friends would think poorly of you if you ate that whole pizza by yourself. Or maybe you are eating out with a food know-it-all who wants to order for everyone. Today, eat the food you know will benefit your mental health and take your time eating it.
Eat dessert first and your appetizer last. Who cares? This is your day! Don’t be afraid to eat what you want but be mindful that you still want to feel good after you eat. Instead of allowing yourself to eat until you feel sick, allow yourself to stop eating before you are full. Take the time to savor each bite. You will not be denying yourself anything today so don’t feel like this will be your only good meal of the day. This gives you permission to eat just a little bit at a time so you can feel hungry for each treat of the day.
Normally you go shopping to pick up a gift for someone else. This Valentine’s Day, go shopping for you. Don’t go to the typical shop or the big box store where you know you can find a deal. Go to that store you have always wanted to go to, the one with the snobby clerk that makes you feel like you can’t afford anything she has to sell. Have your Pretty Woman moment and buy that gift for yourself.
Shopping can totally benefit your mental health. It has been proven to lift your mood and lower your stress levels. It can also give you some exercise, which offers great benefits for your mental health, but which you only have to focus on this day off if you want to. Do not exercise if you are not going to enjoy it on this Valentine’s Day.
Move It (or Don’t)
If you decide to find a fun way to incorporate exercise into your Valentine’s Day, make sure it will be just that, fun. Exercise does not always mean go to the gym, run around town or power walk for an hour. There are many ways to exercise that are fun and different than normal exercise; and that still benefit your mental health. For example, gardening and dancing are two other activities that reduce depression, anxiety and stress but are different than going to the gym and lifting weights.
Finding creative ways to exercise, such as golfing, have been found to stabilize moods and make you feel happier due to the brain chemicals released during exercise.
Give a Little Bit
Volunteering or giving back can have a huge impact on your mental health. It feels good to help someone else. Contributing to the wellbeing of another person can reduce your stress levels and uplift your mood. When you do things that make you feel good about yourself and your situation, you have a more positive overall outlook.
Volunteering also offers you a social connection to others, increase in self-esteem, and can make you feel like you have a purpose.
On your day off, you don’t have to spend your whole day working for a non-profit or drive all over town looking for a homeless person. Find small ways to give back. Some simple ways to give back include paying for someone else’s meal, taking your elderly aunt’s dog for a walk, or raking the leaves out of your neighbor’s yard. These simple activities may take you half an hour but they offer the person you are helping a great deal of relief.
The benefits of a massage, hair-cut, manicure or pedicure, or facial are big. When we are touched in a positive way, oxytocin is released in your brain that tells your body to feel good. You deserve this feeling.
Touching makes you relax, reduce stress and decrease blood pressure.
There are many other activities you can choose to do for yourself on Valentine’s Day. Eat chocolate, drink wine, or go to the movies are just a few. Binge watch your favorite television shows, clean out your closets and donate unwanted items to goodwill, or have a tea party are also some ideas of things to do on your day off. The most important thing to remember is that Valentine’s Day is for you and only you. So go out and do what makes you happy!