Waking up–Stretch Yourself

Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier than your usual time and stretch. Whether you stay in bed circling your neck and shrugging your shoulders, dance around your house, or use an app to complete a quick yoga routine, your body will benefit mentally and physically from this movement.1

Eating breakfast–Toast Yourself

Treat yourself to everyone’s favorite trend food: avocado toast. Avocado contains vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid which helps the nervous system function properly.2 What’s more, avocados are rich in stress-relieving vitamin B6, which helps the body make several neurotransmitters, including serotonin. Avocados therefore may influence your mood and help to reduce anxiety.

Avocado Toast

More partial to sweet breakfasts? Try roasting a sweet potato whole in the oven–the night before or in the morning. Let it cool a bit before biting in. Roasting a sweet potato in its skin creates an amazing caramelization effect that sweetens the potato sans the added sugar. Even better? Just like avocados, the vitamin B6 in sweet potatoes can help boost your mood.3

Commute to work or school–Entertain Yourself

You’ve definitely heard the buzz about incorporating meditation into your daily routine. Why not use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to try it? Check out an app that’s designed to help you meditate. Here are some that we love:

Calm

Named by Apple as the 2017 iPhone App of the Year, Calm provides people experiencing stress and anxiety with guided meditations, sleep stories, breathing programs, and relaxing music. This app is truly universal; whether you’ve never tried meditation before or regularly practice, you’ll find the perfect program for you.

Mindfulness

Start your journey to a more relaxed and healthier state of mind with the Mindfulness app. Here, you’ll find everything from a five day guided practice to get you started, to personalized meditations, mindful notices, and more!

Headspace

The Headspace app simplifies meditation. Learn the skills of mindfulness and meditation by using this app for just a few minutes per day. You gain access to hundreds of meditations on everything from stress and anxiety to sleep and focus.

If you’re not a big fan of paying attention to your breath or are still skeptical about whether mindfulness is right for you, why not try something a little closer to home. Instead of learning to meditate, download another mental health app or zone out (or into) a podcast. Here are a few of our favorites:

If you are curious about meditation but not ready to try it, listen to 10% Happier .

Radiolab focuses on science-based stories that are impossible to listen to without learning something.

If you’re a fan of interviews from celebrities to authors, artists, and intellectuals, Fresh Air’s Terry Gross is a classic.

If you want to feel like you’re hanging out with friends while still learning something, tune into Call Your Girlfriend.

Mid-morning–Treat Yourself!

Quick chocolate snack? It’s Valentine’s Day, why not! Mix a spoonful of cocoa powder and one packet of sweetener into hot water for a soul-warming hot chocolate or treat yourself to a piece of a dark chocolate bar. Studies have shown that chocolate has an antidepressant-like effect, likely due to its stimulation of the release of endorphins.4 So, if you’re feeling down about being single on Valentine’s Day release that dopamine by biting into a bar!

Lunch–De-Stress Yourself!

Adult coloring books, puzzles and crosswords can be a fun way to give your mind a break from the stress of work and school. According to the American Art Therapy Association, they’re therapeutic, too.

Here’s out this classic coloring book, Secret Garden.

Here’s a fun (though definitely adult, due to language) coloring book.

Our recommendation? Head to your local bookstore to pick up a coloring book or the old-fashioned kind! Ask an employee if they have any recommendations; studies have shown that talking to semi-strangers about a shared interest might make us happier.5

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After Work–Record Yourself

After work, whether you’re settled in at home or traveling a long commute, take time to stow your phone away for a moment and break out a journal. Write about your day. Did anything particularly stressful happen? Jot it down. Did something wonderful happen? Write about it. Journaling about positive events strengthens them in our memory, while writing about negative or stressful situations also has an unexpectedly positive effect. When we write about a stressful event rather than stewing over it in our heads or blabbing about it to a peer, we are forced to see the event differently. Studies show that writing about traumatic events can even improve our physical health.6

Dinner–Challenge Yourself

Use Valentine’s Day an excuse to slow down your dinner. Whether you’re single on Valentine’s Day or dining with your Valentine, challenge yourself to cook up a meal you’ve never attempted before. Pick out a recipe that gets you seriously excited, purchase the ingredients in advance (grocery shopping last minute can be stressful), and take your time cooking. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of cooking as quickly as possible and eating just to make hunger go away, but it can feel like a treat to really take your time cooking for yourself and eating by yourself. If you’re wondering how to slow down your meal, start by turning off the TV and shutting your laptop. It’s easy to zone out and forget what you’re eating if your attention is elsewhere. You can try eating with chopsticks or a non-dominant hand to slow down the meal further. The important part is to pay attention to what you are doing: how’s the food look? How does it smell? What does it taste like? Does it remind you of any other meals you’ve had?

Bed–Offline Yourself

Make today the day you finally turn off social media half an hour before bed. Not only will it help you get better sleep, but it will help you wind down earlier and more calmly. Turn off your phone, leave it in a drawer or different room (or at least face down to avoid blue light), and try something new.  Cozy up in a heated or weighted blanket. Do a crossword puzzle. Enjoy the first chapter of a new book.

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin is a great read for anyone in the mood for a laugh-out-loud read, full of fascinating facts about the science of happiness and how you can achieve it. This is not your typical self-help book. Rubin’s research and writing style will engage and inspire you. She shows how just a few small steps can lead to genuine happiness.

No matter what you choose to do, end the day by checking in with yourself. Did you do something today that made you feel happy? Are you able to feel calm? Take notice of what activities made your day better and work to incorporate them into your daily life.

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Last Updated: Feb 13, 2018