RAK Countdown: 6 Kind Words of Encouragement

Words of encouragement can brighten our day and help lift us up during difficult moments. They’re also a great way to show kindness and appreciation for the important people in our lives! You can share words of encouragement in person, by leaving a thoughtful note, or even through an email or text message. This week, we encourage you to communicate kind words of encouragement to 6 people in your life! Send your best friend a kind and encouraging text, leave your partner a note before you go to work, or send a co-worker an email highlighting their hard work. Show the people in your life that you appreciate them by communicating kind and encouraging words!

2020 Kindness Champions of Guilford County!

Every year in honor of Random Acts of Kindness Week, HRI names Kindness Champions–people in the community who exemplify kindness to others. We invite you to help us celebrate the individuals who have been nominated as Kindness Champions of Guilford County by their fellow community members! We will be sharing the 2020 Kindness Champions of Guilford County throughout the rest of this month, so stay tuned to learn more about these wonderful people and the ways they spread kindness throughout our community!

Today’s Kindness Champion is Qumara Lee, whose nominator shared why she stands out as someone who is outstanding at spreading kindness: “I am nominating her because she has transformed a tragic loss of her son into becoming a champion for nonviolence and kindness in High Point. In November, she organized a basketball event that was attended by about 200 people with a goal of promoting nonviolent solutions to conflict among youth in High Point. She is working tirelessly to bring together different community groups to address the problem of gun violence in our community.”

RAK Countdown: 7 Compliments

Compliments make us feel good! They’re easy, free, and go a long way to boosting someone’s mood or confidence. In essence, they’re the simplest act of kindness we can do for someone! For the first part of our Random Acts of Kindness Countdown, give 7 genuine compliments. Make sure the compliments are specific to the person, rather than just a comment on their clothes. “Wow, you did a great job on that!” “I really appreciate how you always look on the bright side of things,” and “You always manage to make me laugh!” are great examples. Be specific, be creative, and above all, be kind!

RAK Week: Kindness Countdown Series Intro

Random Acts of Kindness Week (RAK Week) is a campaign that emphasizes how simple acts of generosity and consideration go a long way for boosting our community and general well-being. Oftentimes, it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference: a kind word at the right time, or a bit of help from someone we don’t even know. In honor of RAK Week, HRI presents our kindness countdown! Checkout our blog and social media over the week of February 16th as we talk about different ways to show kindness to everyone in our lives!

Simple & Sweet Ideas for Valentine’s Day

By Taylor Gabbey, HRI Graduate Assistant

Valentine’s Day is a time of affection. Romantic partners spend additional time together, and friends and family exchange small gifts to show their appreciation. While the season is full of fun ways to show we care, it can be easy to get caught up in unreasonable expectations. We might feel pressured to go “all out” for the holiday, spending money we don’t have or putting time and effort into something that neither we nor our partner want. Still others might feel left out of the season, because romantic movies usually don’t show couples with children or people looking to celebrate with friends. 

It can be hard to figure out how to celebrate, so we want to share some ideas to keep your Valentine’s Day simple and sweet. Whether you’re low on cash or looking to include your kids in the fun, here are some easy ideas for you and your Valentine this year!

If You Have Kids

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about partners; it can be about parents too! If you have young kids, nice dinners and big excursions can be difficult, not to mention expensive. Instead, find simpler activities to do with your kids that stick to the spirit of the season!

One activity to do as a family is baking Valentine’s Day cookies. Cooking together is a ton of fun, and emphasizes the teamwork and cooperation that make up healthy relationships. Cookie decorating also encourages creativity as you each put your own unique spin on them. Take the opportunity to point out each others’ strengths, and the quirky little things you love about each design! You can find a bunch of Valentine’s Day cookie recipes here: https://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/dish-type/cookies/holiday/valentines.

Another way to celebrate together is by making Valentine’s Day cards. Nothing says fun like crayons and glitter! The cards could be for each other, or you could try making Valentine’s Day cards for a cause. See if any organizations in the community, like hospitals, retirement homes, or community centers, would like to receive some hand-made cards. This way, you and your family can spend hours making unique goodies, and can help spread the spirit of love and affection even further!

Lastly, try having a family game night with a few fun twists. Instead of standard trivia, ask each other questions about the people in your family (i.e. “What is Sarah’s favorite toy? What is Mommy’s favorite color?”) Try to see who can come up with the most specific compliment for another player. You can even write out things you love about a family member and see if anyone else says it Match Game style. Be creative, be honest, and above all, be kind to each other!

If You’re Low on Money

Let’s face it: Valentine’s Day can be expensive. When the expectation is gifts, and flowers, and a nice dinner out, the pricetag exceeds what many couples can afford. But being low on funds doesn’t mean forgoing the holiday entirely; it just means getting a little bit creative!

Instead of spending exorbitant ticket prices, try having a movie night in. Of course this doesn’t have to mean just putting on Netflix. Make it more of a special occasion by adding snacks, rearranging the living room, and picking a movie that you haven’t seen, or that has a special significance to your relationship. If you really want to make an event of it, have your own movie premiere by dressing up and walking  your own red carpet–no matter how small it might be! 

Similarly, you and your partner can use the lack of frills to create a fun, unique night! Imagine what the two of you would do if money wasn’t an obstacle, and then make a game of trying to create it with what you have around the house. Picturing an expensive candlelit dinner? See what candles you can find at home, make fake flowers from towels or tissues, and create a “gourmet” dish from the ingredients in your kitchen. Dreaming of a tropical couples retreat? Lay out some beach towels and create your own “spa” with lotion face masks or DIY massages. Don’t be afraid to get a little silly with it. The important part is having fun together!

If gift-giving is more your thing, you don’t have to break the bank to give something meaningful. Try creating a Compliment or Positivity Jar! Fill post-it notes or slips of paper with things you love about your partner. Be specific about your compliments, or share favorite memories, inside jokes–anything you want! If you both do this, you can even read what you wrote together or choose the one that means the most to you. 

If You’re Single

Maybe you’re flying solo this 14th. That’s no reason not to practice a little love! Self-love is as important as love of others. While we often think about taking our partners or loved ones out, buying them gifts, or doing things for them, we don’t typically do this for ourselves. Well, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to focus on you a bit!

One way to do this is by taking yourself out on a date. Visit your favorite restaurant or one you’ve been waiting to try; go to a movie you want to see; buy your favorite drink or dessert and just relax. There are so many ways to treat ourselves! Even something as simple as giving yourself permission to relax and do what you want for a night can go a long way in helping us feel healthy and confident. Reward yourself for being you!

Another way to practice self-care is by having a spa day. That could mean taking yourself to a professional spa for a manicure or massage, or it could mean creating your own spa at home. Splurge on a few things like a facemask or bath bomb, or just draw a nice hot bath and relax. Being kind to our bodies can make us feel happy and confident, as well as appreciative of the body we live in!

Sometimes, saying nice things about ourselves is even more difficult than “treating ourselves.” We are often our own biggest critic, either out of a desire to do better for ourselves or out of modesty and humility. While being humble and hard working is admirable, it’s okay to acknowledge the things we like about ourselves, especially when doing so can feel difficult. Take some time this Valentine’s Day to write a list of all the things you love about yourself! These could be physical attributes, personality traits, accomplishments, talents, even memories of times you did something you’re proud of. Make the list as long as you can, and if you want, put it somewhere to revisit when you’re feeling down. It’s never a bad time to spread a little love, especially for yourself. 

If Your Stuck in a Rut with Your Partner

Long-term couples hold many benefits, like comfort, trust, and greater intimacy. However, as things become more comfortable and routine, romance can end up in a bit of a rut. Fortunately, Valentine’s Day offers a great opportunity to shake things up! Here are a few simple ideas to break out of the routine.

Sometimes the simplest ideas yield the sweetest experiences. If you and your partner need something new to bond over, try just going to a new place. This could be a museum, a restaurant, or a whole new city! If you don’t want to go too far from home, try just wandering around a different part of town. When you’re with the person you love, anything becomes an adventure. Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves, and just enjoy each other’s company in a new place!

Conversely, going to someplace familiar can have its own rewards. Rather than going to your usual spots, try revisiting places from a different point in your relationship. Go back to where you had your first date, or the place you first said “I love you.” Even better, have each of you pick a place that holds one of your favorite memories as a couple, and just spend time expressing what that memory means to you. The objective is to find new ways to connect, and that can be done in places new or familiar!

If Your Valentines Are Your Friends 

As we’ve probably made pretty clear at this point, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to look like a Hallmark movie. The holiday is about spending time with the people you care about most, and for many, those people are their friends. If a significant other isn’t in the picture, use the season to cherish the love and bonds you have with your besties!

One easy way to do this is to have a friends’ night out (or in, if you prefer). Get the group together and do things you love, whether that’s going downtown for dancing, or chilling at home with a bunch of movies. If you want to make the night particularly special, try going somewhere new or buying your favorite treats to share. It’s all about you and your crew, so have fun with it!

Another way to celebrate with friends is a gift exchange. Wish you had a reason to buy those big boxes of chocolates? Try having a Secret Cupid party! Like Secret Santa, you and your friends can draw names and buy Valentine’s-themed gifts for each other, or just buy whatever you can find and have the party White Elephant style. Gift exchanges can be sentimental or as wacky, and they provide a perfect excuse to get together with some chocolate, flowers, and your favorite people!

If schedules prove too hectic for a party, you can still show your love to friends this Valentine’s Day. Try making something as a nice, simple gift to say how much they mean to you. Bake some cookies, make a friendship bracelet, or just write a very heartfelt note. Don’t worry about the pricetag; rather, think about how it expresses your appreciation to these people who mean so much to you. 

Valentine’s Day is all about love, and the many forms it takes. Make the most of the holiday by celebrating with those you love, be they family, friends, partners, or yourself!

5 Tips for Building a Healthy Teen Relationship

As a teen, you may be starting to date for the first time in your life, or maybe you’ve been in romantic relationships before, but now you’re starting to build more serious relationships. You may be feeling excited, hopeful, and maybe even a little nervous or scared. It’s normal to have lots of mixed emotions during this new and exciting time in your life! When you start dating, it’s important to know what to look for in a partner and a relationship, as well as what you can do to make sure that your relationship is as happy, healthy, and safe as possible. HRI has created 5 tips to help you build a healthy teen relationship, as you start dating for the first time or start your first serious relationship!

1. Aim for Mutual Respect

Healthy relationships are built on mutual respect! Mutual respect means that you and your partner respect each other for who you are and honor one another’s boundaries. It also means that you treat each other with kindness and compassion through your actions and words. When you speak to your partner, do so with kind and respectful words, even if you are in an argument. When you are mindful about how you treat one another, you will be able to build a healthier and stronger relationship over time!

2. Aim for fairness & equality

Healthy relationships involve give and take from both people. Both people should feel supported, valued, and heard, and neither partner should have more power or control than the other. 

It’s important for you and your partner to strive for fairness and equality in your relationship. This may look like taking turns choosing what movie to watch or where to go for dinner. It also looks like hanging out with both partners’ friends and families, instead of spending all of your time with one person’s friends/family. When you focus on promoting fairness and equality in your relationship, you and your partner will have a strong foundation moving forward!

3. Establish honesty & trust

Honesty and trust go hand in hand in healthy relationships. When you and your partner are open and honest with one another, your trust in one another will grow. Trusting each other means that you give your partner the benefit of the doubt and believe that they have your best interests at heart. Trust looks like giving one another space to celebrate your individuality and independence and to spend time with other important people in your lives. Trust also looks like believing that your partner is being truthful with you and refraining from checking up on them or making assumptions when spending time apart. 

Remember, it takes time to build trust, so be intentional about taking steps to trust and be trustworthy in your relationship.

4. Practice healthy communication

Healthy communication is key to a healthy relationship! In healthy relationships both people feel safe to express their thoughts and feelings openly and honestly without fear of how the other person will react. Both people also try their best to use active listening when their significant other is talking. This means listening with the intention of understanding, asking clarifying questions if you don’t understand something, and refraining from thinking of your next point or a comeback when the other person is talking. Using active listening builds understanding and connection, and can help couples avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Another integral part of healthy communication is being able to resolve conflict in a healthy way. When we’re feeling angry or upset with our significant other, it can be really easy to lose our cool and yell or lash out. However, it’s important to try our best to keep from doing this, because it is hurtful to the other person and can damage our relationships. Recognize when you’re feeling upset and are having a hard time regulating your emotions. Instead of letting your emotions take control of your actions, pause and tell your partner that you need to take a break before talking about an issue further. This will allow you to calm down and revisit the topic when you are calmer and better able to communicate your thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. 

5. Support one another, while leaving room for independence & individuality

In healthy relationships, couples support one another, while also giving each other space to be independent. This means being there for each other to celebrate successes and provide support during difficult moments, as well as supporting one another’s right to time alone, independence, and individual relationships with friends and families. 

Healthy couples support each other’s passions and dreams and give one another time and space to pursue individual interests and hobbies. It’s important to maintain your individuality within your relationship!

For more information about building healthy relationships as a teen, check out our Healthy Relationships for Teens blog series!

Show Appreciation for Your Partner!

 

Showing appreciation is an important part of building healthy relationships and strengthening your connection with your partner! When you notice your partner doing something kind or thoughtful for you, praise them and show gratitude for their efforts. This will communicate to them that you notice the effort they are making to connect with you and strengthen your relationship.