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Mid-February is that irrepressible time of year when love truly is all around, and when hearts, flowers and displays of affection can seem like they’re everywhere. However, Valentine’s Day doesn’t just have to be a saccharine-sprinkled celebration of romantic love, it can also be about honouring and applauding some of the strongest, most supportive and enduring relationships you may ever know: your female friendships.
Even global icon and everyone’s friend crush, Beyonce, gets the value of girlfriends, saying, “I love my husband, but it is nothing like a conversation with a woman that understands you.” Fictional character Leslie Knope from US sitcom, Parks and Recreation, went one step further and created an unofficial holiday to celebrate female friendships called Galentine’s Day, which she promptly declared to be “only the best day of the year”. And who are we to argue?

Valentine’s Day doesn’t just have to be a saccharine-sprinkled celebration of romantic love, it can also be about honouring and applauding some of the strongest, most supportive and enduring relationships you may ever know: your female friendships.

And if you needed any more reasons to celebrate your mates, there’s actual peer-reviewed evidence about why your #girlsquad makes you so #blessed. Research shows that female friends are literally good for your physical health, with the famous Nurses’ Health Study from Harvard Medical School revealing that the more friends a woman has, the less likely she is to develop physical ailments as she ages. Good friendships can also help reduce stress, as women are programmed to release a bonding hormone called oxytocin when they’re in a stressful situation, which drives them to seek out friendships as a coping strategy. Finally, women with a strong group of female friends are more likely to achieve executive positions and higher salaries at work, thanks in part to the benefits of having a trusted tribe they can turn to for advice.

So, whatever your relationship status this Valentine’s Day, consider making it an opportunity to celebrate and show gratitude for your friends who have been there during thick and thin, whether that’s one close bestie or a valued girl-gang. Here are some ideas to help you make the day a really special experience:

Movie night
If you fancy avoiding schmaltzy events at the cinema and balloon-filled restaurants, bring some similar-minded friends together for a movie night at home. Enjoy a blockbuster, classic or binge-watch a Netflix series, load up on snacks and wine, then get comfy and enjoy.

Volunteer
It’s hard not to get that warm, fuzzy feeling when you’re doing something that’s making a tangible difference to someone else’s life. Whether that’s working in a soup kitchen, animal shelter, or other venture that’s close to your heart, spread the Valentine’s love by helping someone else in need. With a group of friends, you’re sharing a wonderful experience that will stay with you all for a while to come.

Secret cupid gift exchange
Like Kris Kringle but better, organise a get-together where everyone brings a meaningful gift for another member of the group. To make it really special, take part in a fun activity, such as a chocolate making class or painting lesson, and share your creations with each other afterwards.

Pamper yourself
Valentine’s Day is all about love, and what better way to show some self-love than with a pamper session? A great one to do with a group or by yourself, you can either book a day or night away, or organise a home spa party and relax in the comfort of your own abode.

Go for a hike
If anything releases our favourite feel-good hormone, serotonin, it’s exercising somewhere that visually and physically takes your breath away. Explore some local hiking sites together and enjoy the bonding experience as you discover all the beauty that nature has to offer.
Whatever you decide to do for Valentine’s Day and whoever you decide to celebrate it with, take a moment to acknowledge how wonderful your friendships are and how much they enrich your life. And don’t forget to include yourself in that praise, because you are someone’s friend, and you’re just awesome.

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author

Victoria Hanlon

Victoria is a freelance writer and communications expert, with a passion for health, wellbeing and beauty. Originally from the UK, her love of travel led her to the US and Hong Kong, before she made Australia home in 2009. This global experience of different cultures, people and climates has strongly influenced her writing style, outlook on life, and desire to communicate with others. When not working or spending time with her family, she’s an avid reader and a devotee of high-intensity exercise. She takes inspiration from her four-year-old twin daughters, who have taught her to never underestimate what you can achieve.

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