By Jackie Rainford Corcoran EBS Health Columnist

Ahh Valentine’s Day—a holiday that celebrates love and connection. While some may scorn Feb. 14 as a “Hallmark” holiday crafted solely to take money from the consumer’s pocket, I would argue that setting aside a day to focus on sharing love and affection is great for our health.

A 2016 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences advised that relationships are just as important to our health as diet and exercise. They found that the more socially connected we are, the lower the risk of disease. Conversely, a lack of social connections is associated with much greater risk of disease.

They explained that, “social isolation increased the risk of inflammation by the same magnitude as physical inactivity in adolescence, and the effect of social isolation on hypertension exceeded that of clinical risk factors such as diabetes in old age.”

Therefore, rituals as sweet and innocent as children bonding through giving and receiving hand-made Valentine’s Day cards is beneficial to their well-being. As we age, romantic relationships can increase our lifespan, improve our outlook on life and help maintain balanced hormones. We are social beings, we need connection to others.

But the time constraints of modern life and the disconnect that too much screen time causes can lead to feelings of loneliness.

Which is why I’d like to share a lovely tool for efficient and effective communication that provides opportunity to bring you closer with people you’ve known for decades or even someone you’ve just met in just a few minutes time.

To avoid meaningless chit chat about the weather, one-sided conversations, or focusing solely on the negative or positive (leaving out the complete picture), give this tool try.

It’s called “Rose, Thorn, Bud”. Here’s how it works:

Start by asking the person if you can apply the RTB tool. If they agree, explain how it works and take turns telling about your RTB. You start by sharing your “Rose,” or what’s going well in your life—what your excited about and grateful for.

Then describe your “Thorn,” or the thing that is currently causing you discomfort or other issues.

Finally, move on to your “Bud,” or what feels like it has great potential and makes you excited about the future.

RTB can also be used as an icebreaker in group settings. It quickly gets a group of people who aren’t intimately familiar with each other up to speed, and offers important insights into what’s currently important to them. In a business setting, it can even be used as a brainstorming strategy and when giving critical feedback.

Intentionally maintaining and creating strong social connections is crucial to our health. May your Valentine’s Day be filled with love and friendship.

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach, culture consultant and TedX speaker and podcaster. For a complimentary health consultation, visit her website corcoranhealth.com and schedule your meeting today.