Posts tagged with "relationships"

relationship illustration by Rita Azar for 360 Magazine

How to Heal a Strained or Severed Relationship

In Your Personal × Professional Life

By: Allison Kelly Jones, Author of Measure Twice, Cut Once, Navigating Negativity in Toxic Relationships

Sometimes we find ourselves in personal or professional relationships that sour for various reasons, but there are always two players in the strain. Some people continue to engage in “tit for tat” behaviors deploying everything from the silent treatment to guilt or passive/aggressive conduct which is never a good way to “conduct” ourselves. So how do you get past the hurt? How do you reconcile the issues while being true to yourself? How do you “move the needle” towards reconciliation in your personal relationships or resolution in your professional ones?

There are never any innocent bystanders in toxic relationships and being honest about our role in conflict is the first step and it starts with first admitting our behavior in the situation. If a person says or does something to upset you and you swallow your feelings, gossip instead of confronting it or try to ignore it (which causes inner turmoil), you too are playing a role in the dysfunction whether that of a martyr or the passive/aggressive person. An insult or act against you isn’t solely about the other person, so an honest internal check of how it feels in your body is in order and let it be your guide. Decide if you want to nurture the relationship and build or if the relationship has run its course and you may need to cut the relationship with kindness. In my book, “Measure Twice, Cut Once, Navigating Negativity in Toxic Relationships” I discuss the behaviors that identify toxic behaviors in ourselves and others as we decide how to proceed when engaging with difficult people and situations. If you decide to engage and nurture, it starts with forgiveness and forgiveness doesn’t require you to forget the offense, it only matters that you decide to accept that what has happened has occurred and you are letting go of resentment or vindictive thinking or behavior by separating the person from the offense. Taking accountability for your role and communicating how the other person’s behavior affected you and their responsibility for wounding you, doesn’t minimize or validate wrongdoing, it allows you to move into a space of healing. 

Secondly, Look for the good in the person. We all fall from grace and we all need it in our lives at different times. Who hasn’t done something wrong to another person? Lied on someone. Took credit or too much credit for something we shouldn’t have. Said something insensitive. Did something purely out of spite. We would do well to remember that everyone needs grace and hopefully got it. When you are upset with someone, it’s hard to see past an offense and separate the person from the offense, but if you could remember times they were in a more positive light or a time when you were viewed similarly can help reign in feelings of resentment. 

Next, try on some empathy by seeing the other persons point of view because there are always points to ponder from the other side. You are not always right. Keep in mind that our ego wants us want to be unkind, but we should be mindful that compassion can go a long way in being an effective advocate for resolution in any matter, personal or professional. 

Afterwards, identify the real issue. Conflict doesn’t just “pop up” and it seldom comes without warning. There are always behaviors that occur that sow discord over time. The real source of clashing may not be miscommunication, rather it is usually based on perception of an issue. Separating fact from fiction from feelings can help.  Ask yourself what the real issue is that’s bothering you, meaning solid concrete tangible things, e.g., “Allan yells at me at work (Fact) and it feels belittling (Feelings) and people may think I’m weak (Fiction)”. Ask questions of yourself first and then Clarify, Verify and Communicate your need. 

When communicating your need use “I” language because you are only responsible for what is in your span of control. Trying to defuse a situation by pointing fingers usually blows the issue up further. “I’ don’t like when you yell at me” – “I don’t understand what you mean.”  Next, confirm what you are hearing from them. “So, let me make sure I understand” I think what I hear you saying is…”  Communicating what your needs are and listening for the message on the other end is important to resolve the issue or reconcile the relationship. 

Finally, give it time and space if needed. If your attempts at resolution are rejected allow the time and space for the other person to discern, decipher and decide what they would like to do without pressure is important. Next, reach out occasionally and ask for smaller measurements like a 15-minute coffee break or a text as a reminder that you really want to try to resolve the issue. Be consistent until you can’t.  

If all else fails and you have to break from the relationship, let the other person know in a letter or a call/message that you really wanted to move the needle to make everyone comfortable, but your efforts have gone without merit and you are now choosing to let go without resentment.  With family try to offer ongoing family therapy both on your own or together, but have no expectations, simply know that with time all things heal or work out for the greater good because not all relationships are intended to endure. Some are there for a blessing or a lesson, but it’s always for your growth.

BIO: 

Allison Kelly Jones is a southside Chicago native who joined the military after high school and traveled the country as a federal contractor and subject matter expert in human resources, business development and federal personnel programs. She was the on-air talent for her eponymous business show on CBS AM, “The Big Talker” in Washington D.C. Allison spent a vast amount of her career mentoring and coaching many people to personal and business success and has been sought after to deliver powerful and contemporary lectures on topics that engage, empower, and inspire people to live their most genuine and happy lives. Her philosophy is, “we are here to learn who we are and what we are here to do and whatever it is, it is to be shared.” 

Manifestation is truly the only way to have the life you desire most, and Allison instructs people on how to manifest their dreams, doing so as a personal and business coach and also as a professor of business in Arizona.  

For More Information visit HERE.

 “Measure Twice, Cut Once: Navigating Negativity in Toxic Relationships” is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

vegetables by Nicole salazar for 360 magazine

Show your heart some love on more than just Valentine’s Day 

By Nutrition Myth Buster Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS

Experts aren’t sure why people are more likely to have a heart attack during the winter than any other time of year. If Valentine’s Day and Heart Health Month are inspiring you to take better care of your ticker, here’s big news. 

A 12-month human clinical study involving 577 participants conducted in Malaysia reveals we aren’t doing our hearts any favors by eating a high-carb diet. Researchers looked at different patterns of eating, from high-fat to low-fat, high-carb to low-carb, and measured the effect each way of eating had on the risk for heart disease. Turns out, fat intake didn’t move the risk needle one way or the other. The higher carb diets, on the other hand, were associated with greater cardiovascular ris. 

I wasn’t the least surprised by this study’s findings! I’ve been saying for years that fat has been wrongly demonized. If anything, it’s sugar – not fat – that’s causing us to go off the metabolic rails. In this study, low-carb diets performed considerably better than high-carb diets.

The study found that healthy adults who ate higher proportions of carbohydrates (compared with the amount of proteins or fat they consumed) tended to develop several elevated risk factors for cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure and more plaque-promoting small LDL cholesterol particles. Higher proportions of dietary fat intake were not associated with elevating these risk factors.

A hormone called insulin – and a condition called insulin resistance – are at the core of pre-diabetes, and are turning out to be early warning signs for heart disease. And the results of this study showed that insulin measures were considerably better when people ate diets with a lower amount of carbs, and that was true regardless of the amount of fat consumed. 

It’s insulin resistance, not cholesterol, that is the root cause of heart disease and, according to other research, probably many other chronic underlying conditions plaguing our world. 

The good news is that insulin resistance is treatable, preventable and mostly reversible by diet alone. It’s time we get off the toxic diets that are causing this condition in the first place! It’s time we understand that saturated fat and cholesterol are not the problems. When you remove that outdated thinking, the current dietary guidelines collapse like a house of cards. 

What’s good for the heart is good for the brain, and vice versa. I haven’t found one exception to that case. The right diet for the heart looks exactly like the right diet for the brain. And sadly, the  diet we SHOULD be eating is exactly the opposite of the diet we’ve been told is heart-healthy. 

Easy, no-fail heart-healthy eating changes

Most attempts to eat healthier fail quickly because the changes are too big and unmanageable. Instead of trying to completely overhaul your diet, start by making a few small changes. Here are a few simple suggestions that may have a healthy impact on your heart: 

First, remove these items from your kitchen: 

  • Corn oil and canola oil. These seed oils are filled with omega-6 which is very pro-inflammatory. 
  • Sugar. Let’s be realistic. I know you’re probably not going to give up your favorite sweets entirely. But be kind to your heart by restricting those goodies to just a few days a month.
  • Canned soups, salad dressings and pasta sauces. These are often loaded with hidden sugars and a ton of sodium. Instead of relying on these cooking shortcuts, do an internet search for simple recipes you can make from scratch.  
  • White flour and white rice. These are heavily processed and raise your blood sugar almost as much as pure sugar. And – don’t shoot the messenger – products made with ‘whole grains” don’t do much better. Whole grains still raise blood sugar, and still contain gluten, so they may not be the solution for everyone. 

Then, add these items to your fridge and pantry: 

  • Palm oil. You can find this online and in specialty markets. Millions of people around the world use it as their everyday cooking oil. Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil is rich in nutrients such as brain- and heart-healthy vitamin E tocotrienols. 
  • Butter. This was never bad to begin with! It was banished from our tables because of our ill-advised fear of saturated fats. So we replaced it with something much worse!
  • Stevia and monk fruit. These are natural sweeteners that have no effect on your blood sugar.” 
  • Nuts: People who eat more nuts have lower BMIs. Their diets are higher in magnesium, higher in fiber, higher in poly- and monounsaturated fats, all of which can have a profound effect on your health. But nuts are also easy to overeat and contribute to weight gain, so just be careful about the amount you consume.
  • Egg yolks: What a relief that you don’t have to suffer through one more tasteless egg white omelet! The advice to eat egg white omelets is way past its expiration date! 
  • Dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa on the label): Chocolate contains cocoa flavanols; beneficial plant-based phytonutrients that support cardiovascular health.
  • Grass-fed beef. Grass-fed beef contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and less inflammatory omega-6s. It’s also free of hormones, a very big plus indeed. If you follow this suggestion, you’ll never have to worry about how much marbling is in your steak, or if your hamburger is 70/30 instead of 90/10 or 80/20. It won’t matter. 
  • Dark meat poultry: The USDA data shows that there are mere milligrams of differences in the nutritional content of white and dark meat. 

Here’s more advice: Stick with the basics. I’ve always said that the only rule you really need to follow in nutrition is to eat real food, food your great-grandmother would have recognized as food. Eat from what I call the “Jonny Bowden Four Food Groups”: food you could hunt, fish, gather or pluck. Stay away from overly processed and get back to basics. 

That doesn’t mean you can never snack. Get organic (non-GMO) popcorn with minimal chemical processing. Get away from that chemical soup called “butter flavoring” and look for a microwave popcorn that contains palm oil, because palm oil doesn’t burn easily so your popcorn will taste better.  

This year, you can finally make commitments to a heart-healthy diet that are easy to achieve. These tips will help you take better care of your heart throughout the winter and may become heart-healthy habits you’ll want to follow all year long.  

Biography: Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, (aka “The Nutrition Myth Buster”) is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health, and the best-selling author of 15 books on health. Dr. Jonny — a former professional pianist and conductor — earned six certifications in personal training and fitness, has a Master’s degree in psychology, a PhD in holistic nutrition and is board certified by the American College of Nutrition. He has written, contributed to or consulted on hundreds of articles in publications as diverse as the New York Times, People, Us, O the Oprah Magazine, In Style, Vanity Fair Online, People, GQ, Forbes Online, Clean Eating, the Huffington Post and countless others.

He is the best-selling author of 15 books, including “Living Low Carb”, “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth” and his latest, the revised and expanded version of “The Great Cholesterol Myth” (2020). 

Valentine Image by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

2021 Valentine’s Day Drink List

Valentine’s Day is always a day full of romance, love and of course, alcohol. 360 Magazine has curated a list of the most divine drinks for this season of intimacy. Making these drinks for a loved one is a sure way to show your adoration.

D’USSE Between the Sheets

Glassware: Coupe

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ parts D’USSE VSOP Cognac
  • 1 part Bacardi Superior Rum
  • 1 part Orange Curacao
  • ½ part fresh lemon juice

Garnish: Lemon Twist

Method: Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass

Between the Sheets for 360 Magazine

Sandra Guibord’s Wine Picks 

Sandra Guibord, Founder of Sandra’s Wine Life, has affordable and approachable wine recommendations for you to consider this Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) Day.

Sandra’s Top Bottle Recommendations for this Day of Love:

Red Wine, 360 MAGAZINE

Elysian Brewing’s Fuzzduster

Made by combining two of the company’s most popular beers – Space Dust IPA and Superfuzz Pale Ale – Fuzzduster is the love child of the two, boasting bright and bitter notes that complement one another nicely and bring out each other’s best qualities. 

Fuzzduster can be whipped up in a matter of seconds and is the perfect concoction to create with your significant other (or by yourself, more power to you!) before sitting down for Valentine’s Day festivities at home. All you have to do is combine half a glass of Space Dust and half a glass of Superfuzz with one another, sip and enjoy!

Elysian is also hosting a sweepstake throughout the month of February, where one lucky winner will win a $2,000 Airbnb gift card – to enter, just text “FUZZDUSTER” to 78896 between 2/1 and 2/28. 

Elysian Fuzzduster

 

Cavit Collection Wines

Cavit Sweet Red: A new, lusciously sweet red wine cultivated in vineyards in Vallagrina and Veneto with pronounced cherry and raspberry notes. This delectable beverage pairs well with red meat dishes and are excellent with spicy foods, along with grilled meats and vegetables. The wine has an ABV of 10.5% and is available in 750ml and 1.5l.

Cavit Rosé: It’s never too early for Rose season…especially during a global pandemic. Cavit’s Rosé features beautiful aromas of fresh strawberry and cherries and comes from a blend of native Trentino red grapes. The wine is best served with fish dishes and white meat.

Cavit Moscato: This sweet wine features delicious notes of apricot, white peach and sage, a true Italian gem. Cavit’s Moscato is best served with flavorful appetizers, cheeses, spicy dishes, and fruit and chocolate. The wine has an ABV of 7.5% and is available in 750ml and 1.5l.

Winter Moscato Cocktail (Source: Cavit Collection Wines and Honest Cooking)

  • INGREDIENTS
    • 2 parts Moscato wine
    • 1 part cranberry juice
    • 1 part ginger beer/ale
    • sugared cranberries
  • DIRECTIONS
    • Shake wine and juice together with ice, strain into glass (no glass preference from client) and top with ginger beer/ale.
    • Garnish with a toothpick of sugared cranberries.

CavitMoscatoRecipe.jpg

LongdistanceRelationship by Rita Azar for 360 Magazine

Catfishing During COVID

new study expects there to be an unprecedented rise in online romance scams this Valentine’s Day, with scammers praying on lonely and isolated people during the pandemic.

Americans lost $201 million to romance scams in 2019, more than any other type of scam. Virginia had the eighth most victims in the nation.  

When the FTC releases the final totals for 2020, they are likely to increase in correlation with surging dating app usage due to more Americans turning online for human connection.

Bumble saw an 84% increase in video calls and Match Group, which owns 60% of the market including Tinder, saw subscriptions increase by 15%.

SocialCatfish.com released a study, Catfishing: A Growing Epidemic During COVID-19, using the most recent data from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. It also includes an exclusive seven-minute video interview with a Nigerian scammer, and a 20-page leaked playbook.

The study warns of 5 tactics scammers are using:    

1.     Cannot Meet Because of COVID: The hallmark of a catfish scammer is to come up with excuses of why they cannot meet, such as pretending to be in the military overseas. The pandemic gives them a built-in excuse not to meet.  Be careful.

2.     Will Not Video Chat: The oldest excuse in the book… they cannot video chat with you because their video camera is supposedly “broken”, or they do not have the best access to Wi-Fi. These are red flags.

3.     They Ask You for Money: Once they form an emotional connection with lonely victims, they ask for money. During COVID-19, scammers have begun saying they are sick and need help with treatment, or are low on food, water, and other supplies.

4.     Poor Grammar: If the person claims to be American but has terrible grammar, they may be a scammer.

5.     Confesses Love Quickly: If you are stuck in your house with limited contact with your loved ones, then someone else’s sweet words can win you over. Scammers know that the sooner they win your trust, the sooner they can drain your bank account. Beware of someone who is moving too fast.

5 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Victim:  

1.     Never Give Money: Do not give anyone you meet online money, no matter the reason.

2.     Meet or Video Chat: Do not form a relationship with someone who will not video chat with you or meet you in person. 

3.     Do Not Give Personal Information:  Scammers can use basic information to commit identity fraud, get access to your banks and steal your money.

4.     Conduct Thorough Background Checks: Do not take someone’s word for it.  Use reverse look-up sites to verify information, images, email addresses, phone numbers and online profiles.

5.     Take Things Slow: If you like someone online, do not let them rush you. Nigerian romance scammers will be pushy about falling in love right away. If that is the case, know something is not right.  

relationship illustration by Rita Azar for 360 Magazine

Find Your Happiness With Hypnotherapy

Cupid has been slacking this year. Singles need to settle for virtual dates if they want to maintain social distancing regulations and have a love life, and relationships have been falling apart all across the globe. So, we need to change the direction of Cupid’s arrow towards ourselves and start practicing self-love.

Loving yourself and caring for yourself first will help you find the happiness you are capable of having.  Society has placed a stigma against single people as if it is a condition brought upon by them being unworthy of love, and some people allow this mindset of others to enter their own thoughts.  Allowing these outside variables to influence your opinion of yourself will only amplify the negative feelings you have about what it means to be alone.  You have the ability to challenge these feelings and these thoughts which will lead you to seeing your own worth.

An effective way to help change your mindset and guide you to a more positive outlook is to practice hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy is essentially meditation but with a goal.  So why not take meditation practices a step further?  Hypnotherapy, as the name suggests, is a therapy.  Counter to pop culture depiction of hypnosis associating people clucking like chickens while being hypnotized, hypnotherapy is a proven tool. Albrecht Wobst, H. K. MD, from Anesthesia & Analgesia writes “Contemporary clinical investigators claim that the combination of analgesia and hypnosis is superior to conventional pharmacologic anesthesia for minor surgical cases, with patients and surgeons responding favorably.” Research on the effectiveness of hypnotherapy continues to grow.

So, how can we use hypnotherapy to help with loneliness? First, we need to understand hypnotherapy.  Certified clinical hypnotherapist, Christine Deschemin, shares “A typical approach of hypnotherapy is for the hypnotist to deliver verbal suggestions that are tailored to the needs of the client.” She also shares that you can practice hypnotherapy on your own, with just an audio guide from her app, UpNow, to get you started.  “Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state of awareness. This state achieves the ‘bypass of the critical factor’ and as a result enables you to make changes to the self-defeating behaviors and self-limiting beliefs, bringing you then to your desired target state – sleeping better, becoming slimmer, and managing pain more easily for instance.”  

So, we can target the negative feelings triggered from loneliness due to the adverse connotations we associate with being alone through self-hypnosis.  Our subconscious thoughts have a strong impact on the way we view and approach different things in life and by practicing self-hypnosis, we can help change those thoughts.  We can learn how to enjoy our own company and grow to value it.  We can also help diminish anxiety about the future, and the depression and hopelessness that sometimes comes with being single and actively searching for a partner with no avail.  

When you work on yourself first, and you start to manage your own struggles, you will also start to attract better people around you.  Building up your confidence and independence will help you to fearlessly work towards your goals. The closer you get to your goals the more confidence you will have.  Working on yourself and your independence will become your priority, as it should always be.

Remember, being in a relationship is not the determining factor of success, but there is nothing wrong with wanting a partner either.  Yet, in order to love someone else you have to learn to love yourself first, practicing self-hypnosis will help you get there. 

With the pandemic bringing a new type of challenge for those looking for love and happiness, we are in a constant search for new methods of how to cope and navigate those struggles. Christine Deschemin’s app, UpNow, was created to enable people to practice hypnotherapy on their own in a safe and affordable manner. You can use hypnotherapy audios from UpNow to bring you to your full potential and find what you’re looking for. 

relationship illustration by Rita Azar for 360 Magazine

Insurance for Valentine’s Day Let-Downs

Survey shows percentage of those suffering Valentine let-downs, finds women caught cheating more often than men, and more.

The leading online resource for health, auto, home and life insurance for more than 20 years, Insurance, recently surveyed 2,000 individuals to determine how frequently Valentine’s Day disasters occur. The good news: most (83%) report escaping relationship drama around the holiday. But, for those who endure heartache, finding highlights include:

  • 27% broke up with someone
  • 20% had a serious argument
  • 65% of men caught partner cheating (vs. 35% of women discovering an unfaithful partner)
  • 52% of men initiate break ups (vs. 48% of women calling it quits)

The complete survey results are available: 5 heartbreaking scenarios—insurance after divorce.

“It’s understandable that insurance may not be top of mind when going through a stressful break up or divorce,” acknowledges Michelle Megna, editorial director for Insurance. “But failing to assess life, homeowners, auto and home insurance can be costly. Our guide makes it easy for people to understand where they may be exposed to financial risks so they can efficiently make any necessary insurance coverage changes.”

Insurance checklist during divorce

Life insurance: Consider changing the beneficiary or setting up a life insurance trust for the benefit of any children.

Home insurance: Ensure the correct name is on the policy and/or secure renters insurance if moving out of a shared home. The guide explains what to do if homeowners are underwater on their mortgage and/or leaving a home unoccupied.

Auto insurance: It is possible to stay on the same auto insurance policy until car ownership is determined. But, assess your estranged spouse’s driving habits, speeding tickets and/or accidents. It may be more cost-effective to separate your auto coverage before finalizing a divorce.

Health insurance: If an individual wants to remain on a former spouse’s health plan after divorce, it may be possible to obtain COBRA coverage for up to 36 months. COBRA is generally a high-cost option and it may be more cost effective to purchase an individual high-deductible health plan.

The report includes an interactive map showing divorce and marriage rates by state, along with their differences from national averages.

Megna is available to elaborate on break up survey findings and answer questions about how people can best assess any insurance coverage changes that may be important in the wake of divorce.

About Insurance.com

Insurance is owned and operated by QuinStreet, Inc. (Nasdaq: QNST), a leader in providing performance marketplace technologies and services to the financial services and home services industries. QuinStreet is a pioneer in delivering online marketplace solutions to match searchers with brands in digital media. The company is committed to providing consumers with the information and tools they need to research, find and select the products and brands that meet their needs.  Insurance.com is a member of the company’s expert research and publishing division.

Insurance.com is a trusted online resource dedicated to educating consumers on auto, home, health and life insurance, developing relationships directly with carriers to offer consumers comparison rates from multiple companies. Since 2001, Insurance.com’s industry-first online tools, data-based reporting and experienced experts have helped consumers make informed insurance-related decisions, so they can choose the right insurance for their individual needs.

Rita Azar illustration for 360 magazine relationship article.

6 Cool Entertainment Options for Partners Spending Lockdown Apart

To stay and keep our partners safe, the COVID-19 pandemic might require that we spend some time away from our partners. Being away from their partners can be agonizing for a lot of people and this is why you should try to find ways to connect with your partner every chance you get if you are not spending lockdown together. Below, we will look at some cool and creative entertainment options that you can enjoy alone or with your partner if you are forced to spend lockdown apart.

Listen to the Same Album/Playlist

Streaming services have come a long way and it is now possible to listen to whole albums through your phone and computer. An added advantage is the ability to share an album or playlist with your partner. By doing this, you can listen to the same album or music at the same time.

It might not be the same as spending time together physically, but it will bring you together.

Watch a Movie Together

As with listening to the same music, you can also watch the same movie with your partner. As you know, there are a plethora of streaming services to choose from. However, if you do not want or cannot afford to pay for a streaming service, there are still free movie streaming services such as Tubi that have a catalogue of original movies and shows you can enjoy together.

There is so much you can do with both of the ideas above including using them on a themed date night or a special night you would like to spend together.

Indulge in Some Casino Games

If you love casino games, you can try some of the new games that are being released by various developers to help people cope with long periods of self-isolation. The good thing about playing your favourite games at an online casino is that it is possible to invite your partner to the same casino so you can play a few games against each other. This is not only a great way to spend some time together, it is also a great way to have some fun and some light-hearted competition.

If your partner does not like casino games, you can still engage in some online gambling to have fun, and, if you are feeling competitive, to hopefully win some money. Regardless of whether you want to play slots games alone or with your partner, you should always ensure you are playing at a reputable online slots casino.

With innumerable casinos online available, you might find it confusing to find the right one. Fortunately, you can use online casino review websites to find information about the casinos you might be considering. Review websites such as Online Casino Reviews posts in-depth reviews of popular casinos in South Africa and all over the world. Whether you are looking to play card, table or slot games, Online Casino Reviews has all the information and reviews you need to make the right choice.

Have a Virtual Date Night

While you might not be physically together that does not mean you cannot go on dates, even if they have to be virtual dates. Virtual date night affords you the excuse to dress up, look nice, and rekindle the charm of being in the dating stage again.

The good thing about virtual dates is that as long as you have an internet connection, they can take place anywhere. Maybe you have a beautiful balcony overlooking the city? Or a patch of grass in your garden that you like? You are only limited by your creativity!

Make a Digital Photo Album

It is sad spending wells or months away from your partner, but you can remind yourself why you love them and what they mean to you by creating a digital photo album or a slide show.

Each of the photos included in the album or slideshow should be chosen for a reason. You can always do it together using a share album or folder on a cloud-hosting service. Looking at memories can be a great bonding experience for both of you and help you feel together even when you are apart.

Send Voice Memos

If you have been texting with your partner all day, sending them a voice memo is a fun and entertaining way to reach out to them. The good thing about voice memos is that they can be as long as you like and be about anything.

If you want to go a step further, you can always take a video and send it to your partner. This can come in handy when you do not have time to make a video call.

Spending some time apart during quarantine can make things feel worse than they really are. While it may not be possible to physically spend some time with your partner, you can still find creative, cool, and entertaining ways to spend some time together, although virtually.

Valentine Image by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

15 Valentine’s Day Marketing Ideas for Your Boutique

By Joseph Heller

Love is in the air, gals… Valentine’s Day is almost here! If you’re new to owning an online boutique and this is the first Valentine’s Day you’ll be celebrating as a small business owner, the approach of February 14th might have you mainly thinking about what you’ll get for your significant other and (maybe even more so) what he or she will get for you. Or maybe you typically spend Valentine’s Day with your best single gal pals, eating chocolate and exchanging gifts.

But Valentine’s Day isn’t all about love, romance, and cheesy cards. No matter how big or small your eCommerce business is, it can be a day that drives sales like no other – especially if you sell clothing, jewelry, or other gifts. In fact, it rivals only Christmas in consumer spending. If you play your cards right, the days surrounding Valentine’s Day could make up one of your best sales weeks of all time.

Of course, competing with major retailers isn’t easy, least of all on Valentine’s Day. Stores all over the country are spending thousands of dollars on Valentine’s marketing, trying to get people to buy their gifts from them. Sure, you could have an incredible selection of Valentine’s gifts and accessories, available for great prices – but if nobody knows about your shop, it won’t do you any good in the end.

If you’re going to drive both new and existing customers to your shop for their Valentine’s shopping, you’ve got to get creative about your Valentine’s Day marketing. Read on to learn 15 affordable Valentine’s Day marketing ideas for your boutique – and why you really should care to do something special for this holiday in the first place.

Valentine’s Day and eCommerce

The numbers are clear – Americans spend a whole lot of dough on Valentine’s Day. The average American celebrating Valentine’s Day spent $196.31 on Valentine’s Day in 2020, adding up to a total of $27.4 billion spent on the holiday in 2020. Trends show that number only heading upwards – 2020 spending was up 32% from 2019.

Of course, that’s just the big picture – and not all of that money is being spent in boutiques like yours. Here are a few other stats you should be aware of that paint the picture of consumer spending on Valentine’s Day, based on 2020 numbers:

  • 32% buy Valentine’s Day gifts from discount stores.
  • Men spend nearly three times as much as women on Valentine’s Day.
  • $5.8B was spent on Valentine’s Day jewelry
  • $4.3B was spent on a Valentine’s Day night out
  • $2.4B was spent on Valentine’s Day chocolate
  • $2.3B was spent on flowers
  • $2B was spent on Valentine’s Day gift cards
  • $1.3B was spent on Valentine’s Day greeting cards
  • 45% of adults didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day
  • 15% of Americans buy themselves a present on Valentine’s Day
  • Americans spend an average of $12.21 on Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets

With all of that shopping and spending going on during the Valentine’s Day season, you’ll want to make sure your business ends up with even a small sliver of that massive pie. Running holiday-themed campaigns and upping your marketing efforts leading up to Valentine’s Day will help you keep your boutique fresh in people’s minds and increase the chances that they go straight to you once it’s time to shop for their Valentine’s Day gifts.

15 Valentine’s Day Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Don’t have a huge marketing budget? No problem – with time, effort, and the right direction, you can still get your boutique’s awesome Valentine’s Day gifts and products in front of the right people. Here are 15 Valentine’s Day marketing ideas for small businesses that you can implement for little or no money.

  1. Send a themed email marketing campaign

Instead of generic email newsletters or sale messages, send a themed Valentine’s Day email that’s all about love, friendship, and gift-giving. Drive your audience to your website with gift suggestions and fun Valentine’s-themed wordplay. (You know… “love is in the air,” “we will always love you,” “gifts with heart,” etc!) For more tips on how to use email marketing to grow your boutique, click here.

  1. Host a contest

Embrace the holiday and host a fun couples contest or giveaway on your boutique’s social media page. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Have participants recreate a photo, do a challenge, coordinate an outfit together using a piece from your shop – whatever sounds like a good time. Then, have your audience vote for their favorite entrant on Valentine’s Day. (No need to exclude single people from this one – you could welcome entries from couples, BFFs, family members, etc.)

  1. Run “couples” deals

How do you make a BOGO deal more festive? Call it a couples deal, or a two for one deal! Choose a selection of Valentine’s Day items that you’ll put on sale, whether it’s chocolates, earrings, or pink scrunchies. Encourage them to gift the extra item to their significant other, give one to their BFF for Galentine’s Day, or just keep it for themselves as a token of your love for them!

  1. Partner with another small business

Community over competition, right ladies? Partner with a local business and share the love. It could be another online boutique or a local business that doesn’t directly compete with yours but has a similar clientele, like a florist or a nail salon. Offer a combined Valentine’s Day gift package of your products/services and theirs. This is an especially great idea if you have a strong local presence (or if you’re interested in making it stronger!)

  1. Celebrate Galentine’s Day

Don’t sleep on Galentine’s Day! Coined by Leslie Knope from the TV show Parks and Recreation, Galentine’s Day is a day reserved for celebrating female friendships. It takes place the day before Valentine’s Day, February 13th. To celebrate, bundle a few of your most popular items offer curated gift packages that’d be perfect to gift to a best friend. You could also offer a discount when they multiple of the same item to gift to their friends.

  1. Have a V-Day themed photoshoot

Create some fun Valentine’s Day photos to post on your social media accounts leading up to the big day. You could take photos of couples wearing your clothing, flat lays of all of the red and pink items you carry, or outfit inspo photos against a red or a pink backdrop.

  1. Create a Valentine’s Day gift guide

You and I both know how hard it can be to shop for people – especially your significant other. Make the whole V-day shopping experience a little less stressful by putting together a list of gift ideas and sharing it on your company blog.

No need to have every single item come from just your shop – in fact, it might be more helpful and comprehensive if you scour other local or small boutiques as well and feature their products in your guide. (It’s a great way to open the door to new networking relationships, too!) If you’re feeling up to it, you could create multiple gift guides with different people in mind – for her, for him, for mom, for Galentine’s Day, for your pet, etc.

  1. Send a card

Everyone loves getting mail! Send your past and present customers a real-life Valentine via snail mail. No need to be salesy – the point of this is to show your customers how much you appreciate them and that you’re even thinking about them on the day dedicated to love. Include a coupon to be used in-store or a unique promo code to thank them for showing you and your store love throughout the years.

  1. Share the love

Turn your social media into even more of a community. Invite your audience to share their love stories with you, whether through DMs or by using a certain hashtag in their posts. You can make this as sappy or spicy as you want to – feel free to mix things up a bit by also asking people to send you their worst or funniest dating stories as well! Once you’ve compiled submissions, feature your favorites in your stories. It’ll keep the rest of your audience engaged and help participants feel even more involved in your brand.

  1. Show the love locally

Valentine’s Day is all about sharing the love. What better way to do that than by giving back to the people who need it most? Celebrate Valentine’s Day by hosting a service project, donating products from your store to a local organization, or pledging to donate a certain percentage of your profits in the weeks surrounding Valentine’s Day.

Make sure to advertise this throughout your social channels and your website so your customers know how much good their purchases are doing. Not only will you be able to make a real difference in your community, but you’ll also be able to involve your customers in your charity work.

  1. Highlight date night outfits

People don’t just spend money on gifts during the Valentine’s Day season. They also spend money on themselves, buying clothing, lingerie, date night jewelry, and more. Put together a few fabulous Valentine’s Day outfits using products from your boutique and share a few outfit inspo photos on social media. Be sure to group those products together on your website so your customers can easily purchase everything they need to recreate the outfit.

  1. Don’t alienate single people

For people who aren’t currently in a relationship, Valentine’s Day feels a whole lot more like Singles Awareness Day. Why not go out of your way to show them a little love, too? Don’t leave single people out of all the Valentine’s Day fun – consider running some sort of promo just for them. Run a sale on self-care items that make treat yo’ self gifts, like bath bombs, jade rollers, and (of course) chocolate. You could do this in conjunction with your regular Valentine’s Day promotions or the week before.

  1. Be clear about shipping deadlines

Some people plan ahead of every holiday and finish their gift-shopping weeks in advance – but most people tend to be last-minute Valentine’s Day shoppers. Of course, placing a last-minute order from your online boutique on February 13th probably isn’t going to work out for them. Add a banner to your site reminding shoppers of the Valentine’s Day delivery deadline. Be clear and realistic about shipping cutoffs to receive items by Valentine’s Day. Encourage people to buy early, especially with COVID-related shipping delays making package deliveries even more unreliable than usual.

  1. Make a Valentine’s Day video

When it comes to commanding your audience’s attention, video is one of the very most effective marketing tools out there. Rather than just snapping a few photos of your new Valentine’s Day products, create a video showcasing your favorite Valentine’s Day outfits or gift ideas. You could create a short-form vertical video using IG reels or TikTok, or share a longer informative video on YouTube, Facebook, or IGTV.

  1. Host a Giveaway

Spread the love with an exciting giveaway. Partner with other small businesses in your community or your niche to give something away. It could be a romantic couple’s getaway with flowers, a hotel stay, and a new outfit, a date-night-in package with a dress, a romantic candle, chocolates, and a voucher for fancy takeout, or an epic Valentine’s Day shopping spree. Just make sure it’s somewhat Valentine’s Day related, whether with what you’re giving away, how you enter, or even just with the images and language you use to introduce it.

While implementing these Valentine’s Day marketing ideas might take some serious thought and strategizing, with a little effort they can pay off in a big way.

Now that you have a few great ideas on how you can encourage your customers to shop with you this Valentine’s Day, make sure you’ll have enough Valentine’s Day gifts and outfit ideas in stock ahead of time. Click here for 15 wholesale boutique items you’ll want to stock up on for Valentine’s Day.

All Good Just A Week Ago

If you’re feeling a little bit lonely as a single person during quarantine, there might be a perfect book for you.

For both men and women, “All Good Just A Week Ago: Funny Dating Stories to Help You Keep Your Head in the Game” is chock-full of funny, relatable dating stories put together from interviews.

With teachable moments and unimaginable scenarios, “All Good Just A Week Ago” helps single people keep their heads in the game.

Erika McCall and Niesha Forbes, two best friends, wanted to put their quarantine time to good use, so they set up 50 interviews to gather data and stories for the book.

These stories prove that relationships can make you laugh and roll your eyes instead of cry, all while showing us that we’re not alone.

In 1950, only 22% of Americans were without a romantic partner. In 2019, 124 million Americans were without a partner.

Though the percentage of people in relationships has gone down, the desire to find love and companionship has not.

McCall said, “It’s the year of 20/20 vision, and it’s time for a dating and love revolution.”

Both authors agreed that the revolution begins with this book. With a goal to understand romantic communication and expectations, “All Good Just A Week Ago” uses stories to heal relationships and foster close, loving, committed relationships in a generation obsesses with “hook up culture.”

McCall and Forbes even get into a few of their own stories. McCall herself is single and wants to clear the way for her future husband to enter her life while Forbes is on her way to her third wedding anniversary and hopes that sharing her experience can help bring about mutual respect, kindness and traditional courtship in relationships.

McCall said her story is every woman’s story while Forbes said, “It is critical to know that once you get to a certain age, things you did in your early twenties, all those toxic behavior patterns where you’re not putting your worth above your desire to be with someone, if you don’t do the work on yourself, you will find yourself in your thirties, forties and even fifties, having not learned the important lessons or found true love.”

Following the laughs in the beginning of the book, readers will reach a call to action that encourages men and women to think critically about how to move forward with healthier relationship dynamics.

For more information about the book or to order it, you can click right here.

Rita Azar illustrates relationship article for 360 MAGAZINE

The Top 5 Most Important Qualities a Guy Should Have

Are you restarting your dating life but find yourself swiping left a little too often? When you’re outing the dating world, it can be hard to find the right balance. Although we don’t want to “settle” for a person, we also don’t want to discount men.

We’re here to help you along your way. You always can try to meet a right person on Promenad, but first of all read on for the top five qualities on what to look for in a man so that you can date with intention. 

1. He’s Respectful

Your man knows that your time is valuable, and he respects it by making sure that he’s present when you’re together. He’s interested in your opinion about topics and gives you a platform to voice them.

He’s also upfront about what he wants in a relationship and doesn’t lead you on. Lastly, you feel free to live your own life without his micromanagement or what he believes is “better.”

2. He’s Supportive

You’ll know a man is supportive if you feel as if you can talk about your life, career aspirations, and goals without judgment. He trusts the decisions you make and will often back you up on them–not make you feel as if you need to constantly second-guess your decisions.

Best of all, supportive men are often good listeners. They’ll give you the silence you need and won’t frequently interrupt.

3. He’s Honest

They’ll be times when your man disagrees with a decision you’re making, and he’ll let you know in a way that doesn’t diminish your character. You won’t need to second-guess his thoughts or motivations because he’s upfront and doesn’t feel the need to hide. This often leads to better communication, one of the most important aspects of a relationship. If you ask him a question, you don’t feel any doubt in his answer–even if it’s not the one you wanted to hear.

4. He Pays Attention

Men who pay attention are often talented at active listening because they want you to know that you’re being heard. They also have good dating etiquette. When you’re together, he’s good at putting down his phone and giving you his full attention. They’re attentive to your needs because it’s their way of showing that they value you.

5. He’s Happy

A man’s attitude is often a good indicator of their self-confidence. If you find that your man has a constant, pessimistic outlook on the world, they probably have the same view of themselves. You may feel compelled to help him or find that your own mood becomes low when you’re around him. Although it’s not realistic to expect someone to be happy all the time, generally you’ll feel happy and comfortable around someone with a positive attitude. They often have a good sense of humor and smile more.

What Do You Look for in a Guy?

What are you looking for in a man? It’s important to ask yourself this question frequently until you have a definite answer. Once you know what you want in a relationship, it’s far easier to find a man that’s looking for the same theme.

It’s all about trusting your instinct. Pay attention to how you feel when you’re around him. If you feel understood, respected, and cared for, you may have found the one.