How to enjoy Valentine's Day?

How to enjoy Valentine's Day? (no matter if you are in a relationship, divorced, alone, lonely or just single)

The relationship between Valentine and love did not exist until the 14th century. Some scientists claim that Chaucer at that time linked Valentine's Day with lovers describing it as the day when birds choose their partners. It is believed that Valentine's love tradition originates from the Roman festival Lupercalia, a feast of fertility held on February 15th. It was common for the medieval church trying to connect the feasts of saints with pagan festivals to encourage loyalty and participation of the Church.

Celebrated annually, Valentine's Day is the biggest holiday of love and romance. The shops are stocked with roses, greeting cards and heart shaped gifts. Restaurants are booked with reservations and people are always looking for new ways to express their love. You can even buy a piece of land on the Moon for your loved one. But many people see Valentine's Day as a too commercial and too stressful period for authentic romance. "Valentinus" in Latin means "to be strong". You should keep that in mind when this day arrives, whether you have a partner or not. If you do not have a partner, consider someone you can chat with and share the celebration of Valentine's Day even though it involves only watching movies with your neighbours.

Give love to someone who really needs it

Many of us feel isolated during the holidays, but we are not the only ones who feel lonely. This is an ideal time to literally bring love to someone who needs it - give sweet heart-shaped candies to an older lonely neighbour, a teddy bear to a child in need, plan a date with friends who aren’t in a relationship. Typical research in positive psychology shows that doing something for someone else can make people happier than doing something that is generally fun, like going to cinema. People who care for the welfare of others through altruism, volunteering or establishing relationships tend to be happier and less depressed. Do not wait for love to come to you.

Celebrate the love you really have

Rather than focusing on a partner you do not have, focus on the love that is in your life. Valentine's Day is a great excuse for planning a trip with friends from college or high school or just baking cakes with friends. You can make love themed paper crafts with your kids or just start the tradition of marking the Day of Family Love. Those that are divorced even send greeting cards to their former partners thanking him/her for beautiful children they have together or just remembering the good years they had together.

Move physically

Research shows that the act of hugging itself creates feelings of love and positive emotions. Studies have shown that self-hugging reduces cortisol levels and triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which is what makes us calm. You can emphasize this on your entire body by doing body scrubbing, planning all-day hiking, skiing and/or going to the spa.

Valentine's Day doesn’t have be only a day of year - each day can be Valentine's Day. Think of the things you can do to show your love and gratitude to your partner or someone close to you, which does not have to involve large financial expenses.

Author: Lea Maričić, psychiatrist, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Prevention.