Why Valentine’s Day Is Good for Your Mental Health 

For decades, Valentine’s Day has been marked by sweethearts exchanging the traditional gifts of flowers, candies and cards. Date nights get penciled in, and reservations are made for special restaurant dinners or romantic getaways. 

But as we enter the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, the real importance of our relationships with others has hit home for many of us. This is true not just for people with life partners or significant others, but for those with strong friendships, whether it’s with a best friend, a group of friends, or as being part of the fabric of your community. 

 Protecting ourselves from COVID-19 has meant more than just wearing face masks and social distancing. It has meant limiting the ways we used to connect with friends and extended family. It has meant fewer hugs, less get-togethers and not as many opportunities to foster those social connections that are so important to our mental health. 

So this Valentine’s Day, why not put the emphasis on celebrating our relationships with others? Think of the holiday as a way to let others know how much they mean to you. By recognizing and strengthening those bonds, it’s also a way to boost your own mental health.  

Positive relationships make you feel better. It’s no secret that adults who have a circle of friends are healthier and can even live longer than those who don’t. Research has shown that people who are part of a strong social network have a lower risk of serious health problems, including high blood pressure, depression and being overweight, according to the Mayo Clinic. The mental health benefits of having good friends you can talk to also include: 

  • Increases your sense of belonging and purpose. 
  • Boosts your happiness. 
  • Reduces your stress. 
  • Improves your self-confidence and self-worth.
  • Helps you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one. 
  • Encourages you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise. 

If you’re shining a light on some relationships, you’re grateful for this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to incorporate some creativity.  

Celebrate at home. If romance is on your list this year, but you don’t yet feel comfortable going out, you can mark the occasion by ordering take-out from your favorite, local restaurant. Dim the lights, add some candles and maybe a music playlist to set the mood. Don’t forget dessert. If your celebration needs to be family-friendly, let each person pick their favorite food and create a special buffet. Treat the kids with goody bags filled with treats. 

Surprise your best friends. If you have friends who are always there to support you, now is a great time to let them know how important they are. Send them a gift card to their nearby coffee shop, or for a spa treatment you know they’d love – a little indulgence they’d never buy for themselves. If they live nearby, drop a little gift on their porch.  

Express yourself. Remember those little Valentine’s Day cards we used to pass out as kids? Most of them were corny, but still were a way to connect with our school-age friends. Bring that into the present by sending cards to your close friends to mark the holiday. Write a message telling them how they make your life better. You can even drop in some of those little candy conversation hearts for a dose of nostalgia. 

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 Photo credit: Getty

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