Valentine’s Day isn’t just for lovers. It’s also a great time to acknowledge the amazing people in our lives.
As psychotherapist Ashley Eder, said,“The focus on romantic love at Valentine’s Day risks narrowing what could be a special celebration of the closeness we feel with many.”
So how can you show your appreciation to the people you love? “I believe that time and attention are the most coveted gifts,” said Mudita Rastogi, Ph.D, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Arlington Heights, Ill.
Here are several ways to do just that.
1. Give thanks.
How often do you tell the people in your life why you appreciate them? “Before dinner, take a moment to go around the table and name something you love or appreciate about each person present,” said Eder, LPC, who has a private practice in Boulder, Colo. Modeling love and gratitude is especially great for kids, she said.
2. Send a meaningful note.
Today, handwritten notes are a rarity, even though they make a beautiful gift. “In our digital age, handwritten cards that show up in the mailbox have a special tangibility,” Eder said.
Go beyond wishing someone a “Happy Valentine’s Day.” For instance, Rastogi gave this example if you’re writing your child’s teacher: “My child says that you are the best teacher he has ever had because you smile all day, and tell him exciting stories about robots! Please know that our whole family is thankful to have you in our child’s life. Happy Valentine’s day! Hope you and your daughter have fun on the 14th.”
If you’re sending cards to close friends, let them know what you treasure about them. “A written reminder of what you cherish in your friendship together will stick around longer than an email or voicemail, and your friend can turn to it for a pick-me-up when needed,” Eder said.
3. Enjoy fun activities together.
What do your friends and family love to do? What are their favorite ways to spend the weekend? For instance, on Valentine’s Day — or the weekend after — you can prepare and enjoy a meal with your sister, or see a movie with your best friend, Rastogi said.
4. Create a homemade gift.
“Bake cookies with extra dark chocolate chips for the chocoholic in your life, or create a handmade card for a grandparent, and include a picture of the two of you from a past happy event,” Rastogi said. You can even combine fun activities with crafty gifts by going to a pottery studio with your loved one, and creating a gift for each other, she added.
5. Perform random acts of kindness.
Valentine’s Day also can be a time to give to acquaintances or even strangers by performing acts of kindness. Eder suggested everything from buying coffee for the next person in line to bringing your neighbor’s newspaper to them to letting a stranger check out before you at the grocery store. “Your gesture, however small, has the potential to serve as a reminder to someone else that they matter, no matter their romantic relationship status.”
There are many ways to show your love and appreciation to the people who matter in your life, even those you don’t know so well. As Rastogi said, you can’t go wrong with giving someone your time and attention.