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Unsure how to prep for another pandemic Valentine’s Day? The best suggestions come from the ones closest to us: Our community of experts who have contributed to Right as Rain, a digital publication by UW Medicine that is dedicated to helping you feel healthy and well.

What makes Valentine’s Day special?

The popular story of Saint Valentine, Cupid and undying love all swirl when thinking about what makes Valentine’s Day special. While that’s true, in the current era, the intention to spread love goes much further than romantic relationships.

This year, the entire UW Medicine community is part of what makes Valentine’s Day special. The patience between colleagues and the empathy from providers displays the type of togetherness, intentionality and commitment that are highlighted in our values. And it’s so nice to love the place you work, the people you work with and the people you serve. 

But the rest of Valentine’s Day, off the clock, is important too.

Valentine’s Day dating safety in the pandemic 

Celebrating love is exciting, but safety comes first. By working in healthcare, we understand how important it is to be cautious with any plans as we still move through the pandemic. Clear communication with your date about their comfort level is important, as it might be different than yours. 

Wondering how to navigate a romantic night out during this time? Answer these questions with your date: 

  • Would you be OK with an indoors date, or would you feel more comfortable somewhere with outdoor seating? 
  • Would you like to self-isolate for a period of time before the date? 
  • Do you feel comfortable taking a rapid antigen test to show a negative result before our date? 
  • Is there anything I can do to make sure you’re comfortable, at ease and feel safe? 

Be transparent: if you suspect you have any symptoms, isolate, get tested and tell your date to stand by for the results. A positive test would be a bummer, but there are lots of virtual Valentine’s Day activities you and your loved one can do. 

How to celebrate close to home

Not entirely keen on going out? There’s plenty of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day from home. 

Feed your love 

Even before the pandemic, not all Valentine’s Day lovers enjoyed going out to a busy restaurant for their date night meal. If you’re hoping to stay indoors with your date this Valentine’s Day — whether to stay safe from COVID-19 or because you’re a homebody — a meal cooked together will be a dinner to remember (but hopefully not because the fire alarm went off).

If you’re wanting to have a tasty-yet-healthy meal, these Right as Rain articles will show you how you can try sneaking some veggies onto your plate. You could also make a warm stew with some leftovers to combat a chilly February night, or order fancy takeout instead.

Bond with friends

If you’re single for Valentine’s Day and you’re looking for connections that aren’t romantic, there are plenty of fish in that sea, too. And sometimes, the first move isn’t with someone you want to date, but someone you want to call a friend. These “friend dates” usually feel like they have lower stakes, but what if you’re hanging out with someone new?  

Whether you’ve braved the Seattle Freeze to build a new friend group or you want to befriend the local barista who memorized your name and order, channeling the loving energy of the day could help you find a new bestie or deepen your relationship with an existing friend.

Talk it out

No, we’re not suggesting that you go to couples therapy with your partner on Valentine’s Day, but a day centered on love and relationships could be a great opportunity to be vulnerable about how you’re feeling about them.

Of course, you’ll have an abundance of wonderful things to say to your partner, but bringing up any potential conflicts during the conversation doesn’t mean the night has to end in conflict. The ability to listen deeply to your partner’s needs and concerns is a great way to build trust and intimacy.

Practice self-love 

Regardless of how loved you are by others (and, you are!), the most important Valentine you could ever have, is yourself. 

Sometimes accepting love from yourself can be harder than accepting love from others, but just like anything, it can take practice. 

Start this Valentine’s Day with some positive affirmations about yourself. Mindfulness and intentionality around the way you talk to yourself, how you treat yourself and how you go after your goals can make a world of difference. You might not fall in love with yourself by the end of the night — but you may get one step closer.

End the night in your feelings 

Whether you went to your favorite date spot with your partner, laughed all night with friends or had a cozy night in to yourself, Valentine’s Day is full of big feelings that you shouldn’t be afraid to feel. Be mindful of what’s happening in your body, take note of how it feels, and finally — try not to eat too much chocolate before bedtime.

Photo Caption: © Audrey Shtecinjo / Stocksy United