- Klaus Vedfelt / Getty
- Some people love Valentine’s day.
- Others don’t.
- But they can still feel a “performance anxiety” about the day.
- You don’t have to buy expensive gifts to show your partner you love them.
- Physical affection is always appreciated, and it’s also good for your health.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but not everyone is on board with the idea. Some people see it as nothing but a commercial nightmare, while others may well be expecting a romantic day filled with expensive gifts and elaborate gestures.
But if you’re totally against the idea of spending money for the sake of a day, you can still make Valentine’s Day meaningful with your partner by showing them some physical affection.
It may sound obvious, but according to Becky Spelman, We-Vibe’s relationship expert, some people suffer “a sort of performance anxiety” about Valentine’s Day.
“Because they feel under so much pressure to be romantic, they also feel paralysed and worried that whatever they do will not live up to the hype,” she said.
“Often, people in this situation opt to do nothing at all or end up panic-buying tired flowers or a battered box of chocolates … If their partner is the romantic sort who longs to be pampered, they are likely to feel unappreciated and unloved, and this could even cause a crisis in the relationship.”
But it doesn’t have to be such a big deal. And the best news is physical affection, as well as being free, is scientifically proven to beneficial for your mental and physical health.
“There are broad benefits of receiving and providing affection in close relationships,” Brittany Jakubiak, a psychology researcher at Syracuse University, told INSIDER.
“These benefits include reduced stress, more positive mood, greater overall satisfaction with life, and even a lower risk of catching a cold.”
Oxytocin helps people bond together, and is often known as “the love hormone” because it is released when we hug others, have sex, and when mothers hold their babies.
A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine found that intimacy is also linked with reduced daily cortisol levels.
“Cortisol is the body’s alarm system that goes off when your body is stressed, and controls your mood, motivation, and fear,” said David Brudö, the CEO and co-founder of Remente, a mental health app.
“It is completely natural, but too much stress can cause everything from headaches to depression. The study further found a reduction in chronic problems in couples that touched regularly.”
Low levels of oxytocin can thus have a detrimental impact on our wellbeing, meaning a lack of touch can lead to loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
Read more: 14 ways sex is good for the body and brain
Not only is it bad for your mental health, but avoiding touch with your partner can signal something is wrong.
“If touch communicates ‘I’m here, I care about you, I have your back,'” then avoiding touch may communicate a lack of availability, concern, or commitment and ultimately undermine the relationship,” Jakubiak said.
And there are many ways to show affection, not just kissing and hugging.
“In our research, we also see benefits of casual touches that occur accidentally or the in process of doing something else – like just sitting with legs touching on the sofa,” said Jakubiak. “People also provide affection by saying things like ‘I love you’ or ‘I appreciate you,’ or by being available to celebrate accomplishments and to help when problems arise.”
You certainly don’t need to spend a lot of money to show someone you care, said Spelman.
“Making your loved one heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast wouldn’t break the bank, for example,” she said.
“More than a quarter of Britons say that they would prefer to do ‘nothing’ for Valentine’s Day, and they might be on to something – the key to a good day might be to not do very much, but to do it together!”