This Sunday is Valentine’s Day—the unofficial “day of love” for millions of people around the world. And while many of us may enjoy giving gifts to a spouse or significant other on Valentine’s Day, it’s also a good time to show a little love to ourselves. Whether it’s tackling an item on your bucket list or just dwelling on your blessings for a few minutes, you can improve your health as well as your mood by taking time for you. Here are five ways to get started:
Experience gratitude. Studies have shown that when we focus specifically on what we have to be grateful for, our mood, well-being and even sleep can improve. Consider journaling in a gratitude diary every day for three weeks, and notice the benefits of a more positive mood and increased satisfaction with life.
Express your emotions. Shared feelings are the basis of friendships, romantic partnerships and fruitful working relationships. According to Dr. Faizal H. Sahukhan, national communications director for the Canadian Professional Counsellors Association, “Effective communication solidifies a relationship. Expressing our feelings in an open and nonjudgmental environment leads to bonding and a heightened sense of intimacy, a connection with other people.”
Be positive. Our outlook can make a big difference in the way we feel, physically and emotionally. And our words and self-talk can play a major role in our outlook. Says trainer Dee Britton, “When we speak negatively, we stay stuck where we are. Instead of saying things like, ‘I’m too tired to exercise,’ say, ‘When I exercise, I feel better and gain more energy.’ ”
Stay in touch. A Brigham Young University study found that people with strong social networks are 50% more likely to outlive those with fewer ties. Additionally, research indicates that the cognitive activity required to interact socially may help your mind stay sharp, which is especially important as we age.
Be kind to your body. It may sound simple, but taking care of our bodies is an often-overlooked secret for being at our best. Get plenty of fresh air and breathe it in deeply. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and aim for a colorful variety of food on your plate at every meal. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day to flush out toxins. And don’t skimp on sleep—your body will thank you.
Care2: 4 Scientifically Proven Tips to Improve Your Happiness
Psychology Today: How Gratitude Leads to a Happier Life
Mind Body Green: 15 Simple Tips to Balance Your Mind, Body & Soul
Body+Soul: 20 ways to a healthy new year
Oprah: 4 Simple Health Rules to Boost Your Body and Soul at Any Age
PLOS: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
North Okanagan Counseling: Express Your Emotions