Through no fault of its own, Valentine’s Day has become the holiday that people love to hate. Sure, it is a highly commercialized exercise in romantic displays and overtures. The pressure to get it right is stress-inducing and things rarely live up to the hype we place on the day. But that is no reason to shun the day of love.
We always have the ability and freedom to define things for ourselves. When it comes to love – the most powerful force the human race has at its disposal – there is no end to the various expressions of what it is and what it means to us. Love is romantic (eros), familial (storge), platonic (philia), and inclusive (agape). Love is abundant and expansive; it is forgiving and remorseful; it is joyful and fun; it is strength and courage. Most importantly, love is a birthright. We all seek to give and receive love to others as a basic need of human nature. So, it’s not at all farfetched that we would have a day dedicated to the celebration of love, however commercialized it is.
If you find yourself not feeling the hoopla around love day, that is no reason to shun it completely. Use it as an opportunity to define a healthy love expression for those you love and care about. Divorce it from the pressure of getting it right, making it grand, or feeling the sting of the absence of a particular kind of love. There is love all around you, and in you. Give it the recognition it deserves.
Still not sure what to do about celebrating Valentine’s Day? I have given this some thought and created a short list of things I enjoy doing with those I love. Give it a look and maybe you will find something on the list that you can adopt. Most of these require no need for reservation, but I recommend putting some thought and planning into the execution for the best results.
Get physical – in a group fitness class!
We represent love through the image of a heart. Why not show your own heart some love for Valentine’s Day? Sign up for a fitness class that you can do with your significant other, your friends and family, or solo. Try something you’ve never done before or something you really enjoy. Perhaps you and your partner can do a dance fitness class or try your hand at line dancing. Grab your crew (this is absolutely gender-neutral) and get the heart pumping in a spin class or a bootcamp. Or maybe you and the family can do a nature walk or bike ride along a scenic trail. As long as you do it together, have fun, and get your heart rate up, you are sure to have a good Valentine’s Day.
Cook at home – together
One thing we know for sure is that everybody gotta eat. And if you ask someone if they are hungry, you are likely going to hear, “I could eat,” in response. That makes this idea the perfect plan for a fun Valentine’s Day activity. You can craft it a few ways. If you’re the competitive type, why not set a menu and compete at cooking the recipes Master Chef style. You can pair up with another couple or even get the kids (if there are any) involved to judge it. If you’re not competitive, just enjoy the closeness of sharing the kitchen, catching up on each others’ day, and preparing a hearty meal. Turn on some great music, maybe steal a few slow dances and start cooking up something between you and your partner!
Slow down with some yoga and meditation
Whether you are extending love to yourself or others, it is always a great idea to slow down with intention and gratitude. Yoga and meditation offer the perfect opportunity to remind yourself that caring for you is the prerequisite for you to care for others. You get to pause, get into your body, focus on your breath, and … increase your flexibility. I can think of a million ways that increased flexibility comes in handy in a healthy, loving relationship! All you need is a mat and space and opportunity. The rest is up to you.
Get touchy feely with couples massages
You have probably heard of the five love languages. If not, check out Gary Chapman’s book as yet another way for you to deepen your knowledge and understanding of how to love with and from an open heart. One of the five love languages is physical touch. This is actually one of my top love languages. There are all kinds of scientific reasons why touch is good for the soul. Not only does it convey a sense of belonging and care, it has been proven to reduce stress hormone levels in couples who regularly touch and hug. Low-stress love? Yes, please. We live for that easy-like-a-Sunday-morning kind of love. The best part is all you have to do is book the session, show up, and let the professionals do the rest. Cement the magic of your massage by cuddling in your plush robes in the relaxation lounge post-massage.
Go the romantic route and do an overnight get-away
The well thought-out or spontaneous overnight get-away is a tried and true expression of love because who doesn’t love the adventure of packing an overnight bag and taking a trip to a cute little spot just you and your boo? And the creativity of locations and experiences is infinite. Cozy cabin on the lake or river, swanky resort with all the amenities, quaint bed and breakfast in a small town, or even glamping at your favorite campsite. The get-away can really reflect who you are as a couple and how you show love best. Maybe you plan an itinerary with local excursions or maybe you simply enjoy the alone time with meals taken in bed. Whatever you do, the point is to do you! Your love, your way.
The great thing about having a global day to celebrate love is that we are all reminded that we each need to hear and believe that we are loved by those closest to us. No matter how you choose to let your loved ones know how you feel, Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to say it loud and proud. And hopefully, it’s just the boost you need to make showing love a regular practice in your relationships every day of the year. Oh, and don’t be afraid to say the words, I love you! Yes, they need to hear it. You’re welcome.