If you’re single, you know all too well that Valentine’s Day can be one of the toughest days of the year. The unending barrage of reminders that you’re not partnered with somebody can be overwhelming for even the most resilient among us – especially when Valentine’s Day fanfare tends to focus on the superficial aspects of romance over substance. No matter how you look at it, Valentine’s Day can be a real drag when you’re single.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Valentine’s Day can also be an opportunity for you to take stock of who and what you’re thankful for, and to show yourself the love you genuinely deserve. If, like so many others, you wish this holiday would just go away, try some of the following tips for weathering the storm of candy and flowers.
Devise a plan
A helpful way to navigate the holiday is to create a plan. Feelings of dread or anxiety only get worse if you don’t know what to do with yourself when you’re in the thick of it.
Start by creating a list of enjoyable tasks and other things that make you happy. Then schedule some positive yet productive activities on your calendar. Stop by the library, volunteer, or grab brunch at that new place you’ve been meaning to try. Filling your day with happy activities goes a long way toward improving your mood, regardless of the date on the calendar.
Focus on the positive relationships in your life
Feelings of loneliness are valid and shouldn’t be ignored. But don’t let the emphasis on romantic relationships overshadow the other great connections in your life.
Valentine’s Day is a great time to reach out to older family members or friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. Expressing your love for the people you care about not only brings joy to their day, but it’s good for your mental health as well.
Be kind to yourself
Valentine’s Day can be one of the most difficult days of the year when it comes to your mental health. If you’re single, the holiday might feel like a giant critique of your personal qualities and choices. You might start asking yourself unfair questions, such as: Why am I single? What’s wrong with me?
On Valentine’s Day, make an effort to be kinder to yourself. Like everyone, you have limitations and areas that are open for improvement, but you also have strengths and positive qualities. If you’re being too hard on yourself about a choice you made or a perceived flaw, ask yourself: How would I treat a friend who needed support for the same problem? Remember that you deserve the same level of grace you’d give that person.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
When a holiday like Valentine’s Day evokes negative emotions, it could be an indication that something more profound is taking place. If you’re experiencing strong and persistent feelings of loneliness, grief, anger or despair, you may want to speak with a mental health professional.
Valentine’s Day can be a lot to handle when you’re single. So choose to be kind to yourself and patient with others. It may still be a drag, but at least you’ll have some tools to help see you through.
David Lowenstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist and the clinical director of Lowenstein & Associates, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to providing therapeutic services to individuals and families, he offers training and consultation to numerous associations, schools and agencies around the country. Additionally, he is a frequent radio and TV guest and a resource and contributing writer for numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. Contact Dr. David Lowenstein at 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.