Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day may be one of the most controversial holidays in existence.

While most people can agree that love is a good thing, the capitalistic nature of this particular festive occasion often shoves an unattainable picture of romantic relationship perfection in the faces of the masses for the entire month of February. It can be exhausting to watch, particularly if you’re single or you’re experiencing problems in your current romantic relationship.

Despite the almost unnecessary fanfare, I’ve always personally been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Even from a young age, I’ve treated it similarly to the way I treat New Year’s Eve.

Valentine’s Day is a love reset button.

And, while, of course, I always gave my schoolyard crush the BEST Valentine’s Day card of the bunch in elementary school, I’m not just talking about romantic love.

I’m talking about the love we have for everyone in our lives.

Our family, our friends, our partners, and ourselves.

You see, what Valentine’s Day advertisements don’t show you is the everyday work that goes into building the smiling faces and love-filled heart eyes you see on your screens at this time every year.

I love receiving flowers and chocolates as much as anyone, but these little thoughtful gifts aren’t what make me love my husband, my parents, or even myself.

Long-lasting love is built on reciprocal care.

In order to be effective, care must materialize in a variety of different forms. Physical care, medical care, emotional care, mental care, and spiritual care are all vital to our overall wellbeing.

And while it’s important to be able to provide at least some of these things independently for ourselves (self-care, anyone?), it’s also a natural expectation to uphold in your personal relationships with others.

So, that is why I personally view Valentine’s Day as a reset button, and why I think you should too!

Valentine’s Day serves as a physical reminder to treat the people we have in our lives a little bit better.

It’s easy to let old relationships fall to the wayside in favor of new relationships, work, or even the stressors of everyday life. But building deep connections with people takes time and constant effort from both parties. You need to actively decide to nurture your relationships with other people if you want to reap the benefits of having close connections in your life, which are quite numerous.

According to the Mental Health Foundation in the UK, “People who are more socially connected to family, friends, or their community are happier, physically healthier and live longer, with fewer mental health problems than people who are less well connected.”

Therefore, there is no better time to show the people you love how much you care about them than the present!

So, rather than running to your nearest grocery store and buying up the entire candy aisle for every person in your life who has made you smile, perhaps you should start with small gestures of care that, over time, could turn into habits that help you build your relationships.

Here are some ideas that might help you get started:

Wake up every morning and text someone you love. Even a simple, “hello,” or “good morning,” will do. You don’t need to get sappy or fancy, especially before your morning coffee, but ideally, you’ll change your person every morning or add additional people onto a list you might already have. This one little message might not seem like much, but it lets the receiver know that you were thinking of them at that particular moment, which often can lead to the receiver feeling supported and cared for.

If you’re planning to meet someone you know and love for a coffee, meal, or other activity outside of the house, make sure their full needs are being met. Maybe your friend is in a wheelchair. If this is the case, call the establishment ahead of time to ensure that the place you are meeting has a wheelchair ramp at their entrance so that your friend can get in without difficulty. This act will show your friend that you not only deeply value their presence in your life, but that you care enough about them to shoulder the planning that they otherwise would have to sort out themselves. Little acts of care like this are a great, passive way to show the people in your life how much you mean to them.

When you get up to get yourself something from the kitchen, always offer to get your partner, roommate, or family member something as well. Even if they say no, the fact that you thought about their potential wants or needs is enough to show them that you care for them enough to provide them with a random act of kindness.

The next time that you see a picture of yourself, don’t immediately put yourself down. In fact, if you want to go the extra mile, verbally give yourself a compliment. This form of self-love is actually an act of self-care as, over time, it helps you build your self-esteem and feel better about yourself on the whole. Plus, when you put yourself down when you’re around others, it has the potential to make them more aware of their own physical insecurities. Therefore, by disengaging the instant need to make a self-deprecating comment or joke, you’re actually showing both yourself and the people around you that you care by taking away the pressure to make every photo look pretty instead of focusing on the memory and company you’re capturing.

No matter how you choose to show care this Valentine’s Day, just remember that one of the simplest things you can do is let the people you love the most know how much you love them.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone, and take care!