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How to make every day Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day can be overwhelming, but there are easy ways to show people you care on both the holiday and the other 364 days a year.

“What’s most important is to find some sort of connection with someone else,” says Mark Flanagan, LMSW, MPH, MA, a social worker at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont. It doesn’t have to be a romantic connection, either – friends and family are equally important to well-being.

The holiday is sometimes rife with pressure and expectations, so keeping it in context is important. It’s just one day, after all.

Celebrating Valentine’s Day can be fun, but it’s even better to show love all year round.

Why does Valentine’s Day add pressure?

“Valentine’s Day in America has become extremely commercialized,” Flanagan points out. “Our core need for love has become a marketing tool to put additional pressure on people to buy stuff.”

Commercialism tends to add new expectations, he says. If you’ve been having recent relationship difficulties, they can come into sharp focus on Valentine’s Day.

A bombardment of picture-perfect social media images adds extra pressures. People think of Instagram photos as an ideal they should achieve.

“What we see is often a veneer,” Flanagan says.

When reality doesn’t meet expectations, he adds, the holiday can quickly become sad or frustrating.

“There’s no way that someone else can fulfill our entire need regarding love,” he says, “nor can that happen in one day.”

Have a happier holiday

Want to celebrate the day without making it quite so fraught? Communication is key.

If you have a partner, let them know what you’re hoping for, and ask them about their expectations too. Understanding their love language can help.

“If someone is really into receiving gifts, they may value Valentine’s Day more, because they may see getting gifts as a demonstration of core value,” Flanagan says.   

Don’t have a partner? You can still enjoy Valentine’s Day. Find someone you care about and remind them how much you value them.

Don’t worry too much about grand displays of affection designed for social media consumption.

“That doesn’t get at our core human need for connection,” Flanagan points out. “It gets at vanity or ego.”

How to show love every day

It’s always a good time to share love and make people feel valued. By forging connections with people, you can make everyday life more special.

Here are some suggestions Flanagan offers:

  • Tell someone you love them or care about them.
  • Give a gift or write a thank-you note.
  • Do a quick, easy favor.
  • Resolve differences and forgive people.

The key is to keep everything small and manageable. When you get used to making acts of kindness a part of everyday life, they will feel more natural.

Remember to love yourself, too

Amid all the holiday hubbub, Flanagan says not to lose sight of another person who needs love: yourself.

Self-care has become a popular buzzword, but there are other important ways to be kind to yourself and foster growth. Flanagan recommends a few ideas for tapping into your inherent self-worth:

  • Give yourself space to make mistakes.
  • Set goals that align with your values.
  • Practice journaling.

“Oftentimes, we’re so focused on what people think about us, especially in social media culture,” Flanagan says. “In a world of disconnection, taking time to connect with ourselves and others is a radical blessing.”

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