Thursday, January 20, 2011

5 Best Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day

Figuring out the best way to celebrate Valentine's Day - or the best way to say "I love you" on Valentine's Day - depends on you and your partner, your relationship, and even where you live!

Here are some ideas that will make Valentine's Day fun and romantic...

5 Best Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day

1. Play the Jelly Belly game. A fun, romantic way to spend Valentine’s Day is to play fun games in the bedroom -- or not in the bedroom! For example, you could blindfold him and feed him Jelly Bellys. If he guesses the flavor correctly, he gets a prize (a kiss? a foot massage?). If he guesses wrong, you get a prize (a back massage? a piece of rich dark chocolate?). To make it more interesting, combine jelly bean flavors (eg, rootbeer + ice cream = root beer float, coconut + pineapple = pina colada, chocolate + cherry = chocolate covered cherries, etc.). Or you could play the I've Never - The Game of Truth!

2. A romantic gift bag of messages and toys. For Valentine’s Day last year, I gave my husband a drawstring cloth bag of sensual goodies. My favorite are the love notes: there are 15 or 20 notes that we draw out of the bag with our eyes closed, which contain loving actions that we both enjoy. Our drawstring bag also includes massage oil, a pen and paper for new love ideas, a book, candles, and other assorted goodies. This is one of the best ways to celebrate Valentine's Day because it's inexpensive and romantic!

3. Plan a Valentine’s Day treasure hunt. When was the last time your partner searched for lost gems or a buried treasure chest? A Valentine’s Day treasure hunt can be inside the house, yard, park, neighborhood, city – or even a neighboring town or city. Prepare clues that lead him from one place to another. You can have as many as 15 clues, or as few as three. The last clue could lead to your bedroom, a candlelit bathtub full of bubbles, or a hotel room you’ve booked. Prepare the “treasure chest” with candles, music, roses, and chocolate. 

4. Find cool foods to feed each other. I’m considering buying my husband Baconnaise for Valentine’s Day, even though he’d probably rather get a power tool — but he has every tool known to man! Food can be a fun gift idea, even for men who don’t cook, including pickle popsicles, snake wine, Astronaut ice cream, chocolate covered grasshoppers or ants, curry-flavor buffalo dung beetles, or edible crickets. If your husband loves chocolate, you can find gorgeous gourmet chocolate figurines and specialty items (eg, chessboards, teddy bears, fruit, books, etc). For more ideas, search the internet for online retailers of exotic food products. Perhaps one of the best Valentine's Day gifts for men is to order a case of “homemade” beer or wine from a store that does all the mixing and brewing for you. Mind you, that would do it for me -- and I'm not a guy.

5. The absolute best way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is to learn your and your partner's "love language." And, remember that your partner’s love language may not be natural for you. If you need help expressing love in different ways, remember that those ways may feel awkward and uncomfortable. If you can’t say “I love you”, you need to learn how. The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch and gifts. In 80 Ways to Say “I Love You”, I describe how to express love in each of those different ways.

For more Valentine's Day ideas, read Creative Chocolate Valentine's Day Gifts.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Best Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

One of the best ways to beat the winter blues is to figure out why you're sad. Are you always depressed after the Christmas holidays because all the excitement and anticipation is over? Or, is there a physical cause for the winter blues, such as a lack of light or the "feel good" hormone, serotonin?

Pinpointing the cause of your depressed feelings can help you beat the winter blues. And, here are more tips for feeling better fast... 

Best Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Learn about light therapy. Light therapy for Season Affective Disorder or seasonal depression involves relaxing for an hour with a light box or special light unit. Different types of light therapy treatment include light therapy lamps, special light alarm clocks, and even salt lamps that provide natural ions. Light therapy, light boxes, or even increased exposure to natural sunlight could help reset the biological clock and decrease the winter blues. Light therapy is often an effective treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder because it allows more light to be absorbed through the skin.

Be kind to others – and gentle with yourself. Ranking high in the studies of what helps people to be optimistic and healthy is helping others. Recently, a customer in the drive-thru line at a Pittsburgh-area Starbucks paid for the coffee of the customer behind her. That customer was so pleased that she then paid for person behind her. The chain continued for two hours! You don’t have to make a grand gesture. To overcome seasonal depression, smile at someone on the street, hold a door open, wave someone into you lane on the freeway.

Learn about herbs that cure depression naturally. In The Brain Wash: A Powerful, All-Natural Program to Protect Your Brain Against Alzheimer's, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Depression, Parkinson's, and Other Diseases, Michelle Schoffro Cook describes two natural depression medications: St John’s wort and ginkgo biloba. “St John’s wort is particularly effective for depression, particularly for mild to moderate symptoms without the side effects often associated with drugs,” writes Cook. St John’s wort may not be as effective for severe depression, but if you’re not taking any antidepressants, it may be worth a try. “Ginkgo biloba improves neurotransmitter production in the brain and helps bring oxygen-rich blood to the brain to improve functioning,” says Cook. This natural herb may also help fight feelings of despair.

Connect in real ways with other people. I’m not talking about making small talk at parties or with strangers. One of the best ways to beat the winter blues is to make connections that renew your spirit and soul. This means different things to different people – but you could interact with people less fortunate than you, perhaps by volunteering at a shelter or hospital. Connect spiritually at your church or temple. Connect with nature by taking a walk through a park or along the coast. Look into your dog or cat’s eyes, and connect with on a soul level.

What do you think of these ways to beat the winter blues? Comments -- and more tips -- welcome below.