Valentine’s Day Stress? Have Some Pie, Garlic or Beatles

By Sara Butler

Valentine's Day Alternatives

My little family has a strange tradition: Instead of celebrating Valentine’s Day, we celebrate Pie in the Face Day. What is Pie in the Face Day, you ask? It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

Every year on February 14, my husband and I (and now our children) each fill a pie tin with whipped cream (we learned after the first year that real pie was just too expensive) and take turns smashing it in each other’s faces. Sounds strange, I know -- but it’s so incredibly cathartic. In fact, we’ve found it’s a downright excellent way to de-stress.

Where Have All the Saber-Toothed Tigers Gone?

Stress ... pftt, who needs it? Actually, you do. Or you did.

Back in the days of our cave-dwelling ancestors, stress helped them to stay alive. The problem is that your body doesn’t really know the difference between being attacked by a hungry saber-toothed tiger and being stuck in traffic on the 101 for an hour. To your body, the stress response is the same and in the long run, it can have some serious consequences for your health and wellness.

According to the Mayo Clinic, too much stress can cause:

  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Chest pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleeping issues

Research also suggests that if you struggle to find ways to de-stress, then it can make symptoms of issues you already have much worse.

That pie in the face is sounding pretty good right about now, eh?

If pies aren’t your thing, nor Valentine’s Day, then I have a few proposals for outlandish things you can do to help you de-stress and perhaps create your own family traditions in the process.

Follow in the Footsteps of the Beatles

If you want to try for eight Grammy Awards like the Beatles, go for it -- but that’s probably not going to help you control stress. When I say that you need to channel your inner Beatle and follow in their footsteps, I mean you need to follow the advice of their song “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”

Several studies have shown that holding hands, cuddling, and hugging slows down the release of the stress hormone cortisol and gives your endorphins a boost -- and the endorphins are what you are after. These feel-good chemicals can help to counter stress and depression eight days a week. Plus, there’s nothing like connecting with someone you care about to help you realize that the things you’re stressing about simply don’t matter all that much in the big picture.

Curse Like a Sailor

This may be a stress reliever you want to practice at home, alone, where no one can hear. That’s because it involves a few swear words. If swear words aren’t your thing, then skip over this one, but for others, understand that a well-placed F-bomb may just be the ticket to a little stress relief.

Researchers have found that curse words tap into the emotional part of your brain that can help you release pent-up feelings. It may also help you to increase your tolerance of perceived pain. So, as long as you’re comfortable with it, letting a few choice words fly free the next time you’re feeling stressed may help you feel better.

Discourage Vampires

What does battling stress have in common with battling legions of the undead? Garlic, of course.

The main ingredient in garlic is something called organosulfur allicin. When this is digested, your body produces hydrogen sulfide, and hydrogen sulfide helps to relax your blood vessels and increase blood flow. Basically, garlic is good for your heart and can help you to manage stress – as well as keep vampires (and anyone else you don’t want too close) at bay.

For me, Pie in the Face Day comes but once a year, but stress is something that likes to hang around all the time. This year for Valentine’s Day and every day after, try to think of something outside the box that can help you release some of that stress you’ve been lugging around and maybe have a little fun -- and garlic -- in the process.

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