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Make Valentine’s Day Special: Romantic Gift Ideas

Make Valentine’s Day Special: Romantic Gift Ideas

Wanting to do something meaningful for your partner this year? Put aside the chocolates and try one of these creative gift ideas instead.

Many skeptics say that Valentine’s Day is just another sales ploy – and, in all fairness, the reason chocolates and roses have become the V-day cliché is that each year people continue to buy them. But if we want to celebrate what the holiday claims to be about – love – shouldn’t we think outside five minutes’ effort at the store? For boyfriends, girlfriends, the married and the dating: if you want to show your significant other that you care, try investing a little more time (and perhaps less money) in one of these meaningful romantic gestures.

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When Roses & Chocolates Are OK

Does your girlfriend love chocolate? Does your husband have an affinity for roses after years of professional stage acting? In these and similar situations, where you know that the other person would appreciate the gesture, chocolates, roses, or other flowers are perfect.

The other time they are suitable is early on in a relationship or as gifts for a date you don’t yet know very well. If you’ve only been dating for a couple of weeks, it’s probably better to play it safe with these than to carry out some elaborate scheme which might come across too strongly.

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Write A Love Letter

Move over greeting cards. A handwritten letter is definitely more powerful than a factory-made print message. What should you include? That is up to you and your discretion. You might, however, consider naming a few things you love or admire about that person; recalling a favorite date or outing together; what you’ve learned from him or her; what he or she means to you; inside jokes, if you’ve got them. The more history you have together, the more you have to draw from.

For style points, consider sealing it in wax, including a pressed flower or some photos, stuffing the envelope with confetti, or tying it with an elegant ribbon.

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Go For A Meaningful Gift

Consider: what are his or her favorites? If you know some of the basics regarding your partner, like his or her favorite color, band, film genre, or food, this opens up many meaningful gift possibilities. She likes blue? She wears scarves? Do the math, and get her a nice blue scarf. He is in love with his car? Get him something like a self-luminous tritium keychain for his key fob. What’s playing in theaters right now? If she likes the Resident Evil games, take her to see the newest zombie thriller. A little knowledge goes a long way – work with what you have!

Acts of Service

For some gifts, you needn’t spend any money (and sometimes these are better-received anyways.) In fact, Gary Chapman, marriage counselor and New York Times Bestseller, names “Acts of Service” as one of The Five Love Languages. Acts of service include things like cooking a meal, doing the laundry or the dishes, vacuuming the car or washing the dog. For this kind of gift, you need only ask: what would your partner appreciate? This will, of course, be most suitable for couples that already have a history together, but it is another chance to express love creatively and meaningfully.

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If there are lots of tedious chores around the house or apartment, consider making your partner a coupon book. Does she like backrubs? Make her a backrub stamp card. Does he loathe walking the dog in bad weather? Give him a get-out-of-dog-duty-free card. Acts of service, though simple, are sure to please when you tailor to your partner’s likes and dislikes.

Personalize Your Gift: Release Your Hidden Talents

Have you got any special skills, talents, or hobbies? Do you sing, write, knit, play violin or guitar, enjoy cooking, drawing, or photography? Consider the things you can do and how they might translate into romantic gift-giving. You might write your love a poem. You might compose and sing your partner a song—or, if you lack composition talent, play him or her a round of “Hey There Delilah” with “Delilah” changed to their name and your own improvised lyrics. If you love baking, consider homemade cookies, truffles, or a nice meal. Are you a charcoal artist? Your dear might fancy a portrait. Using personal skills and your own two hands is one of the best ways of making a meaningful romantic gesture.

One Last Hint

To really celebrate your love, you don’t have to wait for a holiday that comes around once a year! These ideas are applicable at absolutely any time and – like flowers “just because” – special efforts are most charming when given out of love and without occasion.

Featured photo credit: pixabay via cdn.pixabay.com

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Shelley Ann Stonebrook

Lifehack Contributor

Make Valentine’s Day Special: Romantic Gift Ideas

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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