Valentine's Day is all about love. The much-anticipated holiday offers couples the opportunity to share feelings, express thanks and be a bit flirtier.
However, Valentine's Day isn't a bed of roses for everyone. For people who are single, Feb. 14 can be more of a haunting day than a happy one.
For those feeling left out of such romantic holiday festivities, don’t wallow in self-pity. There is another option: Random Acts of Kindness Week.
Although not as recognizable or commercial as Valentine's Day, Random Acts of Kindness Week (RAK) can be equally powerful. The yearly event, which runs from Feb. 9 through Feb. 15, encourages people everywhere to spread some love.
And you don’t have to be in a relationship.
Showing love varies widely from person to person. Reading a book with a child or helping a neighbor plant a flower are examples of simple kindness. Acts such as visiting an elderly friend, writing an overdue thank you note or complimenting a stranger require time and thought, not money.
However, if you have money to spend, consider ideas such as paying for someone's dinner anonymously, baking a cake for a friend or leaving extra quarters at the Laundromat.
According to the organization's website, kindness has a three-way effect. Those who give and receive kindness are certainly influenced. However, the "biggest effect of all will be on a passer-by who just happens to witness the act."
"People who engage in kind acts become happier over time. When you are kind to others, you feel good as a person — more moral, optimistic, and positive," said Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at UC Riverside.
Being kind is also good for your health. According to David R. Hamilton, acts of kindness will stimulate emotional warmth. Emotional warmth releases the hormone oxytocin into the brain and body. Oxytocin spurs the release of nitric oxide, a chemical that causes blood vessels to expand. The expansion of blood vessels reduces blood pressure.
For this year's weeklong celebration of kindness, RAK is encouraging people to "flood social media with kindness" by doing something for another, posting it to social media using the hashtag #RAKWeek2015 and then sharing it with their friends.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @tstahle15