Like many of the “Hallmark holidays,” Valentine’s Day can seem to many of us single people like yet another day during which we feel we are somehow less than perfect or lacking.
When there’s no loving partner to wake us up with breakfast in bed, no roses delivered to our desks at work and no romantic dinner plans at the end of the day to make us feel loved and wanted, it’s easy to feel like we are somehow failing and a little more alone.
And those feelings can be even worse for those recently out of a relationship, especially if the end was not their choice.
But, as the famous Diane von Fürstenberg quote goes: “The most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. Because no matter what happens, you will always be with yourself.”
Whether you are single or in a relationship, it is crucial to spend time everyday embracing the life you live and recognizing your self-worth. We are not defined by our romantic relationships.
So this Valentine’s Day let’s start a new tradition of making this a day about self-love and acknowledging loudly and proudly that being single does not make us any less of a person!
DON’T wallow in self-pity
Feeling sad or lonely from time to time is normal. Even those in relationships feel that way. But dwelling on those emotions too much heightens the risk that of crossing the line into self-pity and that can be downright self-destructive.
Take this opportunity to take stock of your life – the good as well as the bad – and choose to be grateful for all the good things you have in life.
DON’T romanticize Valentine’s Days past
Conjuring up past memories during a time when your emotions are high will cloud your recollections. Oftentimes we forget about the problems that existed in previous relationships, making us think back with rose-tinted glasses.
If you’ve recently broken up with someone and start to miss them around Valentine’s, make a list of all the reasons that it’s better that you’re apart.
DO accept your circumstances
If this is a new experience for you, maybe some grieving is in order. Spend a little time acknowledging your “singleness” and then find ways to concentrate on the positives in your relationships with other people in your life. While you may not be in a romantic relationship, think instead about the many people who love and care about you.
When sad or negative thoughts and feelings enter your head or heart, acknowledge them and then replace them with loving and positive thoughts and feelings about yourself and your life.
DO create a Valentine’s Day plan
While our first thoughts may be to cheer ourselves up by overindulging with a bottle of wine and a pint of ice cream on the couch while watching unrealistic rom-coms, this tactic is likely to have the opposite effect on your mindset and mood.
Instead create a plan for how you can spend Valentine’s Day a little more productively. Spend time doing something you love which draws on your unique passions and skills or do something you have never done before but always wanted to. This will help improve your confidence as you experience new things and you will feel a great sense of achievement.
DO treat yourself
Be a good valentine to yourself and think about what you would most like. Treat yourself to something: a movie, a spa treatment, an arts or sports event, or even just a relaxing day at home. If you have kids, send them off with the babysitter so you can focus on a stress-free day with no distractions.
DO something for someone else
Take a friend or family member out to dinner and a movie, bake something for your neighbours, reach out to someone you love who might need your attention. A great way to gain perspective and remind yourself of others who are isolated and distressed and have fewer resources is to volunteer for a vulnerable group in your community.
Spend the evening with loved ones and surround yourself with people who genuinely care for you. When you are surrounded by positive people, that energy can be contagious.
DO learn mood-boosting skills
If certain holidays often get you down, you may also struggle with stress, low mood and worry at other times of year. CMHA’s Living Life to the Full course can help you develop skills to better manage problems, practice healthy thinking, and build confidence. To learn more, visit www.livinglifetothefull.ca.
If your mental health is having a negative impact on your life, there may also be something else going on. Talk to your doctor and see if a referral to CMHA’s Bounce Back program—which offers free skills training and coaching for stress, depression and anxiety—is right for you. To learn more visit www.bouncebackbc.ca.