Embrace Self-Love: A Valentine’s Survival Guide with 6 Essential Tips
Not everyone welcomes Valentine's Day with open arms. While the day is often associated with happy couples, chocolates, and flowers, it can also be a painful reminder of loneliness and isolation for others.
For those who are single, the day can be a painful reminder of their relationship status perhaps bringing feelings of being left out.
For those who are in a relationship, the pressure to have the perfect day can lead to stress and anxiety.
For those who have recently ended a relationship, the day can be a difficult time to navigate, as it may bring up feelings of loss and sadness.
Additionally, for those who struggle with mental health challenges, the day can be an overwhelming and triggering experience that highlights a sense of loneliness or social isolation, which can lead to feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety.
However, it's important to remember that Valentine's Day is just one day out of 365 and that it is possible to choose how we respond to it. It's important for us to remember that our emotional wellbeing is a priority, so focusing on self-care, self-love and self-respect on Valentine's Day is just as important as seeking love and affection from others. By taking care of ourselves and treating ourselves with love and kindness, we can improve our mental and emotional well-being, increase our confidence, and build a positive relationship with ourselves, which then supports building positive relationships with others.
Here are some tips to help you negotiate Valentine's Day, regardless of your relationship status.
1. Practice self-care: This is the most important tip for anyone, but especially for those who are struggling with emotional challenges. Take some time for yourself, do something you love, whilst treating yourself with kindness and compassion. Engage in self-care activities that bring you joy and happiness. This could be anything (we’re all individual and like different things) but examples could be treating yourself to a relaxing bubble bath, going to a yoga class, or indulging in your favourite hobby. Spend some time reflecting on your accomplishments and the things you love about yourself. Focus on self-acceptance and self-forgiveness, and be kind and compassionate towards yourself, just as you would with a friend or loved one. Prioritize your own needs and set boundaries – you can’t pour from an empty cup after all! This could mean saying no to commitments that don't align with your values, or taking time for yourself when you need it. By doing so, you show yourself that your wellbeing is a top priority and that you deserve love and care, just as you are.
2. Connect with others: Whether it's through in-person interactions, virtual connections, or simply reaching out to someone to chat, connecting with others can provide a sense of belonging and improve our mood. It's important to reach out to people who make us feel good and bring positivity into our lives. This could be friends, family members, co-workers, or members of a community group or club. Joining a new group or taking up a new hobby can also provide opportunities to meet new people and make connections. Loneliness can be a vicious cycle, but reaching out to others can help break that cycle down, helping us to feel less alone and giving us a sense of belonging.
3. Be honest with yourself and others: If you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it's important to be honest with yourself and those close to you about how you're feeling. Sharing your struggles with others can help you feel less alone and give you the support you need.
4. Volunteer: Volunteering is a great way to connect with others, give back to our communities, and improve our moods. Volunteering for a cause or participating in community service, whether it's helping out at a local animal charity, community centre, foodbank, or listening to children read at our local primary schools, can give us a sense of purpose and fulfilment, as well as provide opportunities to connect with others who share our values and interests; all of which can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation. In addition, volunteering may give the opportunity to develop new skills and have new experiences, which leads to an increase in sense of accomplishment…a win-win situation where we’re helping ourselves whilst also helping others.
5. Focus on what you have: Valentine's Day can be a painful reminder of what we don't have, but loneliness and isolation can be exacerbated by negative thoughts and feelings. Practicing gratitude can be a simple yet effective way of helping to shift our focus to what we do have, rather than what we don't; and when we focus on the things we’re thankful for it can shift our perspective helping us to see the good in our lives, even in the most difficult of times. One way to practice gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal where we write down things we're thankful for each day. This could be something as small as noticing a beautiful sunrise at the start of the day, or as big as recognising a meaningful relationship in our lives. We can also express gratitude by reaching out to others and expressing our appreciation for their presence in our life. Another way to practice gratitude is to focus on the present moment. Examples of this are things like taking the time to slowly enjoy a delicious meal, really noticing the different flavours and textures of the food, or simply allowing ourselves a moment to pause and really appreciate a beautiful view. Remember, practicing gratitude is not about ignoring or downplaying difficult experiences, but rather, it's about acknowledging and appreciating the good things in our lives, no matter how small they may seem. By doing so, we can cultivate a more positive outlook and find joy and contentment in our lives, even during really difficult times.
6. Set realistic expectations: Valentine's Day can be overhyped, often portrayed as a day filled with grand romantic gestures and over-the-top displays of affection, so it's important to set realistic expectations for ourselves and others in order to avoid disappointment. Focus on what truly matters to you and what you want to get out of the day. This could mean spending time with loved ones, engaging in self-care activities, or simply enjoying a quiet night at home – there are no rules. By setting realistic expectations, we can reduce stress and avoid feeling disappointed or frustrated. Remember that Valentine's Day is just one day out of the year and that true love and happiness come from within, not from external pressures or societal expectations. So try not to put too much pressure on yourself or your relationship.
And finally, don't be afraid to reach out for professional help if you need it, and remember that whatever the flavour of your struggle, you are not alone! Whether it's through therapy or support groups, seeking professional help can provide you with the help and guidance you need to overcome these feelings and improve your mental health.