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How to Survive Valentine’s Day – A Practical Guide

How to Survive Valentine’s Day – A Practical Guide

Whether you are in a committed relationship and every day spent with your loved one feels like the first day of spring, or you are single, waiting for the right one to come, Valentine`s Day can give you a lot of headaches.

Which present to buy, where to go for dinner, or on the other hand, when will you meet someone to spend this special day with and how to keep your spirit up despite being a single fish in the ocean of happy couples. Being a Valentine’s Day grinch, sometimes you might wonder: “Who invented this stupid holiday anyways?”

Well, at one period of my life, I certainly did.

If you are in the second group, I have a brief history of Valentine’s day and a few tips on how to make it an enjoyable experience for you.

History and meaning

All around the world, people are celebrating this annual holiday in February—a month of romance, sharing love and sympathy. According to history, there are interesting versions of the story about who Saint Valentine was.

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There is a legend about priest Valentine who served during the third century (AD) in Rome. There was a law that prohibited marriages for young men because of believing that single men made better soldiers. Priest Valentine didn’t share this opinion and he saw injustice in this act, so he continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When his actions were discovered, he was sentenced to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been a prisoner who sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young woman who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, he wrote her a love letter signed “From your Valentine.”

Nobody knows the exact true story, but these legends indicate that he was some symbol of the romantic hero, so on that one day that is dedicated to him people celebrate romance, love, and devotion.

For People in a Relationship

When you’re in love and Valentine’s Day comes, you can close your eyes and see pink and red hearts, little Cupids flying all around. Make a special (yet affordable day) that both of you will never forget. You can never make a mistake with chocolate and flowers, but there are other cute ways to show your loved one how much you care.

141 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually,[1] making Valentine’s Day the second most popular greeting-card-giving occasion.[2] So why wouldn’t you push it to the next level and make one on your own? Be romantic, think out of the box and grab a piece of paper and write something spontaneous or, in case you lack inspiration, write some funny quotes. A homemade card is always more meaningful than a purchased one.

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If you are creative, the best way to show it is by some of the DIY projects. For example, you can make a dessert, so even if you order a dinner that night, you will be able to give your contribution, how cute is that? Also, you can make a little present that will have bigger value than a store gift.

This year Valentine’s day is a weekday, so you can imagine the routine: coming home from work, taking a bath together and lay watching Netflix. Not the best way to celebrate, huh?

Take a day off from work and walk around the city, eat street food, and drink soda on a bench in the park because the happiness is in small things.

In the evening, check Valentine’s Day events nearby: theaters, galleries, museums and cultural centers may be open late, offering exhibits and performances either for free or at reasonable ticket prices. Be open-minded for new things; you may be able to find a free entry or some deal (two-for-one price); maybe you will become a fan of some band or modern art after this night, who knows?

If you are thinking about the present, remember there is never enough cosmetic products for women so check some fantastic ideas for Valentine day gifts, and like you know diamonds are a girl’s best friend, so stop by a jewelry store on the way to the restaurant and let her pick something.

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    Image Credit: Elin B, Flickr

    And women, take him to the basketball game and buy him a hot dog and beer.

    More than anything, the most important thing that you can give to your partner is your time. Spend a romantic day without watches or smartphones, just talking to each other. There are beautiful places to be: a billion-star hotel – nature by night, whether by the river or through the park. Possibilities are endless when love and desire are there.

    For Single People

    Even if you are single, you can’t ignore this holiday because there is a euphoria all around.

    This may be too much romance for some people,[3] but there are also more mature ways to celebrate whether you have or do not have a loved one. A classy dinner and some fine wine with good friends, or a weekend trip to a near destination, or a casual night out in a jazz club, enjoying music and fine company for example. Check out some new spa centers in your city and get a massage and relax in a jacuzzi seem nice, no matter the occasion.

    If you aren’t into fancy (pricier) options, you can gather your single friends and arrange some fun activities, playing board games or going to the bar playing billiards and darts. Another option is to go shopping and treat yourself instead.

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    There are also parties and events for single people in many places. Maybe this is the way to meet someone interesting or just have some fun and participate. Be crazy that night and try something new. For example, go on speed dates[4] – it is an exciting way to introduce yourself, or at least you will remember the experience. In case you are not open for searching for a soulmate, just spend time with friends.

    It often happens that you can’t avoid it. Valentine’s Day will happen, and you’ll have to deal with it.

    Perhaps this is the best to join the festivities and have fun, but do it your own way.

    Happy your-own-way Valentine’s day!

    Featured photo credit: Laura Ockel via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Dejan Kvrgic

    Blogger, Writer

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    Last Updated on June 15, 2018

    What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

    What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

    Eight out of ten adults experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. I am one of those people and I’m definitely not looking forward to my participation award. I know how it feels like to step out of bed and barely being able to put on your socks. Having lower back pain sucks. But 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from lower back pain don’t even know the primary cause of it.

    Video Summary

    Back Pain? Blame Our Evolution

    Once upon a time in our fairly recent past, our ancestors felt the urgency to stand up and leave our quadruped neighbors behind. Habitual bipedalism, fancy word for regularly walking on two legs, came with a lot of advantages. With two rear limbs instead of four, we were able to more efficiently use our hands and create tools with them.

    Sadly, life on two legs also brought along its disadvantages. Our spine had four supporting pillars previously, but now it only got two. The back is therefore naturally one of the weak links of our human anatomy. Our spine needs constant support from its supporting muscles to minimize the load on the spine. With no muscle support (tested on dead bodies) the back can only bear loads up to 5 pounds without collapsing [reference Panjabi 1989]. With well-developed torso muscles, the spine can take loads up to 2000 pounds. That’s a 400-fold increase.

    Most people that come to me with a history of a herniated disc (that’s when the discs between the vertebral bodies are fully collapsed, really severe incident), tell me the ‘story of the pencil’. The injury with the following severe pain usually gets triggered by picking up a small, everyday object. Such as a pencil. Not as you may think by trying to lift 100 pounds – no, but by a simple thing – such as a pencil.

    This tells us that damage in your back adds up over time, it’s a so called cumulative trauma disorder. Meaning back pain is a result of your daily habits.

    Sitting Is the New Smoking

    Whenever I sit for too long, my back hurts. In fact, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting. But isn’t sitting something that should reduce the stress of your back? No, just the opposite.

    The joints between the bones of the spine are not directly linked to the blood supply. These joints instead get nourished through a process called diffusion. Diffusion works because molecules (such as oxygen, important for cells) are constantly moving and try to get as much space for themselves as they can. A key element for diffusion therefore is a pressure difference. In the image below the left room contains more moving molecules than the right, that’s why the molecules from the left are moving to the right. This way nutrition gets transformed into the joints, whereas toxins are transported out of the joints.

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    Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spinal chord. The diffusion process therefore can’t function as efficiently. Nutrition and toxins can’t be properly transported, the joints get damaged.

      Sit Properly

      If sitting can play such a huge part in the creation of your lower back pain, how do you sit properly then?

      Is it better to sit with a straight back or should you rather lay back in your chair? Can I cross my legs when I’m sitting or should I have a symmetrical position with my feet? These are questions that I hear on a daily basis. The answer might shock you – according to recent science – all of them are right. The best sitting position is an ever-changing one. An ever-changing position minimizes the pressure on certain points of your spine and spreads it on the whole part.

        Credit: StayWow

        Stand Up More

        Even better than a sitting position is a stand up position. Standing dramatically reduces the pressure on your spine. If you’re forced to work on a desk the whole day though, you have two options.

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        Take breaks every hour of about 2-3 minutes.

        Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour! In that time you stand up and reach to the ceiling, on your toe tips with fully extended arms. You’re inhaling during the whole process. You do this activity for 20 seconds. Afterwards you’re walking through the office for the next 2 minutes. You might grab a healthy snack or some water in that time. The exercise relieves the pressure on your spine, while the walking makes sure that the joints on your spine are properly used.

        Or get a standing desk.

        One of the best companies on the market for Standing Desks, according to my research, is Autonomous. Autonomous offers a rather cheap Standing Desk, with the ability to change the height. Which means you can start the day standing and switch to sitting if you’re tired.

        Exercise for Lower Back Pain

        Sitting is an immobile position. Your joints are made for movement and therefore need movement to function properly. If humans are moving, all moving parts: e.g. the joints, bones and muscles get strengthened. If you’re in a rested position for too long, your tissues start to deteriorate. You have to get the right amount of activity in.

        But not too much activity. There’s a chance that going to the gym may even increase your risk of lower back pain. I know plenty of friends with chiseled bodies that suffer from pain in the spine regularly. Huge muscles do not prevent you from back pain. In your training you should focus on building up the muscles that are stabilizing your back and relieve pressure. Squats with 400 pounds don’t do the trick.

        The more weight you carry around, the more weight your spinal chord has to bear on a regular basis. That’s one of the reasons why huge, muscular guys can suffer from back pain too. One of the most important goals of your exercise regimen should therefore be weight loss.

        Here are some important tips for you to consider when starting an exercise regimen:

        Make sure you implement cardiovascular training in your workout routine.

        This will not only help you lose weight, it will also make sure that your arteries, which flow to the tissue next to your spinal discs, are free of placque and can therefore transport nutrients properly.

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        Important: If you have rather strong back pain, maybe even an herniated disc, don’t start running on a threadmill. Running is an high-impact exercise. Which means there are continuous, reocurring high pressure points on your spine. Your endurance training should therefore either be fast-paced walking or a training on the elliptical trainer for the beginning, because both have little to no stressful impact on your backbone.

        Focus on developing your whole core if you want to minimize your pain.

        There are some people that do hundreds of sit ups a day. While sit ups are a good exercise for your abdomen, it also puts pressure on your spine due to the bending movement. A sixpack workout routine is one-sided. Your abs may become overdeveloped in comparison to your back muscles. You’ve created an imbalance. A great way to train your abdominal muscles and back muscles simultaneously, is holding the plank position.

        Stretch only if you have tight muscles.

        I remember stretching every morning after I woke up. I took 10 minutes out of my day to just work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. Little did I know that I was actually promoting an injury, by doing so.

        Contrary to common belief, stretching is only partially beneficial to treating lower back pain. Stretching makes sense if tight muscles (such as the hamstrings) are forcing you to constantly bend your back. Stretching to treat pain doesn’t make sense if you’re already on a good level of flexibility. Hyper-mobility may even enforce back pain.

        If you found out that you had tight muscles that you need to stretch, try to stretch them at least three times a week. Don’t stretch your muscles right after you wake up in the morning. This is because your spinal discs soak themselves up in fluid over the nighttime. Every bending and excessive loads on your spine is much worse in that soaked-up state. Postpone your stretching regime to two-to three hours after you’ve woken up.

        Where to Start

        The key to improving your habits is awareness. Try to get aware of your back while you’re sitting down, laying down or lifting an object next time. This awareness of your body is called proprioception. For example, you have to be aware whether your back is bended or straight in this very second. Trust me, it is harder than you might think. You may need to ask a friend for the first few tries. But the change that this awareness can make in your back pain is absolutely fascinating. This consciousness of your body is one of the most important things in your recovery or prevention.

        Here are a few behavioural tactics that you need to be considering:

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        If you’re leaning forward more than 30 degrees with your upper body, support your spine with your arms.

        Ever tried to show a colleague of yours a complex issue and found yourself awkwardly leaning forward on their desk, pointing with your fingers to his paper? If that ever happens again, make sure you’re using the not-pointing arm to support yourself on the desk.

        Keep a straight back.

        Be it while exercising, stretching or standing. If you’re bending your back you’re putting stress on small areas of your spinal chord. A straight back redistributes the force to a bigger area. You’re minimizing the pressure. Remember this whenever you’re at the gym and reracking your weights, focus on having a neutral spine.

        Put symmetrical loads on your spine.

        I used to play the trumpet when I was a child. The instrument is pretty heavy. The trumpet gets transported in a big, metallic suitcase – with no wheels. Being the nature of suitcases, you only carry it with one arm, on one side of your body. This forced me to constantly lean on the other side with my upper body, while transporting the instrument from A to B. Not really the healthiest activity for your spine as you can imagine.

        If you have to carry heavy objects, carry them with both arms. Put the object in the middle of your body and keep it as close to your mass of gravity as you can. If this is not possible, try to carry the same amount on the left side than you do on the right side. This puts the stress vertically on a fully extended spine. The load is much better bearable for your spine.

        Stay Away From the Back Pain League

        Our world is getting more sedentary. We will continue to develop faster transportation, more comfortable houses and easier lives. While our technological progress definitely has its amazing benefits, it sadly has its downsides too. The danger for back pain will continue to rise on our ever-increasing motionless planet. It’s time to raise awareness.

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