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10 suggestions for a romantic, healthy Valentine’s Day celebration

Valentine’s Day is approaching and people are scrambling for that “something special” to give their spouse, friend, lover or partner.  Here are ten suggestions that help incorporate wellness into your romance:

1. Create a signature scent

Did you know lavender alleviates stress, while pumpkin spice can increase your libido?  There are two interactive ways you can create your own signature scent this Valentine’s Day: The Aroma Workshop in Chicago is offering a “2 for 1” class for $60 during the week of Valentine’s Day. Reserve your spot between noon and 6 p.m. by calling Tedd at (773) 871-1985. And Kenya Renee Reeves, owner of Absolutely Anything Essential, is co-hosting a candle-making class from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 17 at 3521 S. King Drive. $30 per person gets you the supplies to make two four-ounce scented candles you can take home. Visit the cmopany’s website for information and a list of other upcoming classes including how to make soaps and body scrubs.

| Courtesy Emerald Escape Spa Products

2. Soak yourself in red wine… literally

Don’t miss this experience that revolves around the multiple anti-oxidant properties of Spanish red grapes at AIRE — the ancient Roman-Greek-Ottoman style bathhouse in Chicago. The Red Wine Soak: Valentine’s Edition includes signature ancient thermal baths, a 30 minute private red wine soak, 15 minute cranial-facial massage, wine and cheese.  Other Valentine special experiences are also available such as The Sweetheart Ritual which includes the AIRE signature Ancient Thermal Bath Experience.

3. Get away without going too far

Enjoy a Valentine’s package at Eaglewood Resort and Spa in Itasca. Just 30 miles northwest of Chicago, this resort’s architecture is inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. Guests can enjoy overnight accommodations, chocolates and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon upon arrival, a romantic candlelit dinner for two at Burnham’s Restaurant, a 30-minute couples massage, and all access to the resort’s indoor pool, hot tub, sauna and steam room. Package pricing starts at $459.

Creamy avocado soup. | Courtesy Fresh Avocados – Love One Today®

Creamy avocado soup. | Courtesy Fresh Avocados – Love One Today®

4. Make heart-healthy soup

Nothing is more soothing in winter than a warm bowl of soup, and with February being American Heart Month, making something that’s good and good for you is key. The American Heart Association suggests incorporating avocados into your daily routine. “Heart-healthy avocados can be used as a 1-to-1 substitute for unhealthy fats while adding a rich, creamy texture to the soup,” said Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE. “According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, replacing unhealthy saturated fat with healthy unsaturated fat is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.” For a list of avocado recipes (all certified by the American Heart Association) go to www.loveonetoday.com.

5. Take a SPENGA class

If your partner still likes you after seeing you flop sweat, then you’ve got a keeper. SPENGA in Evanston is hosting a “Sweat Your Heart Out” class for couples on Valentine’s Day (5:30 p.m.), includes a one-hour class, live DJ, raffles, champagne, and post-workout snacks.) The workout consists of “20 minutes of cycling, 20 minutes of strength training and you finish up with 20 minutes of yoga to stretch it all out,” said Stephanie Ritchie, general manager of the Evanston SPENGA. Other Chicago area locations include Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Glenview, Geneva and Oak Park.

6. Read a great book

If you want to be inspired or moved, the staff of RoscoeBooks in Roscoe Village recommends three page-turners: “Challenging, practical, straightforward and FUN,” is how Christy Childers describes “Everybody Always,” by Bob Goff, which takes the premise that we are to love everybody, even our enemies, at all times.  “Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage,” by Dani Shapiro, is described as a “taut, graceful memoir” about an 18-year marriage. “Her writing is so exquisite that you’ll want to underline a different passage on every page,” said Erika VanDam. And “Tiny Beautiful Things,” by Cheryl Strayed, is a collection from Strayed’s days as an advice columnist before she became a bestselling author. “Reading this taught me vulnerability, kindness and generosity,” said Jess Ranard.

7. Enjoy some energy healing

Johrei – which is a Japanese word that literally means “purify spirit” has been a form of energy healing used by over two million people worldwide of various cultures and religious backgrounds, “especially in Brazil, Japan, Thailand and Africa,” according to Joe Jarnol, who operates the local branch of Johrei located on Chicago’s North Side. Known for its “calming” effect, Jarnol said people come to his center to combat everything from stress to depression. In-person sessions are by appointment only. “We gladly take donations, but there is no set price,” Jarnol said.

8. Write a card by hand

Words matter, and having them in writing is the gift that literally lasts forever. “What flows onto the paper from your brain when you use a pen is different from when you are typing,” said Dickelle Fonda, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and psychotherapist. “Holding something in your hand that was created by the sender – the emotion behind the words comes through more intensely. The impact is very different.” The Steel Petal Press brick-and-mortar retail shop in Logan Square carries greeting cards printed by hand and in-house. 2321 N. Milwaukee.

9. Get balanced

One of the best-kept secrets for wellness enthusiasts in Chicago is Equilibrium – a place where healers, practitioners and eager students gather to learn about everything about meditation, consciousness and numerology. A special “Tune Up Your Love” class is offered in honor of Valentine’s Day for the month of February. For more information, visit 850 S. Wabash, Suite 300.

10. Go birdwatching

Believe it or not, winter is a great time to bird watch, and being in nature can be highly therapeutic. “You can see winter finches, red-tailed hawks, Cooper’s hawks, and there’s even a snowy owl hanging out around Northerly Island,” said Matthew Cvetas, president of the Illinois Ornithological Society. Free weekly birdwatching walks are scheduled every Saturday morning at Jackson Park through the Chicago Audubon Society (no membership required).  Visit http://www.chicagoaudubon.org. “And if you want to see bald eagles, drive to St. Louis Canyon in Starved Rock, just about an hour and a half from Chicago,” Cvetas said. “You could see 10 eagles, or you could see 50. It’s a perfect spot.”

Get outdoors this Valentine's Day! Birdwatching is a relaxing way to spend the day with your special someone. | Courtesy Illinois Ornithological Society

Get outdoors this Valentine’s Day! Birdwatching is a relaxing way to spend the day with your special someone. | Courtesy Illinois Ornithological Society