Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is upon us. The reminders are everywhere. Candy hearts and roses in the grocery store. Gift shops stuffed with I-love-you plush winking at us. Non-stop jewelry ads. All telling us it’s time to treat our sweetie.
Not a real happy time if you’re unattached.
“Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day affects unattached people like Christmas does in many ways,” says Richard Brousell, marriage and family therapist at Delaware Marriage & Family Counseling in North Wilmington. “It creates a condition of concentrated thought distortion around this one calendar period. People think it’s such a special day, and it should be a special day, and they should have somebody, but they don’t, so there must be something wrong with them.”
But spending V-Day sans sweetie doesn’t have to be a downer. You can still treat yourself and celebrate the occasion. Here are some ideas to get you “in the spirit” of the holiday that will also lift your spirits.
1. Get chocolate. Who says you need someone to buy you your favorite sweets? Get a box of chocolates and savor it all by yourself. Chocolate releases endorphins in the brain to make you feel better. So a little chocolate will improve your mood and make you feel better about the day.
2. Treat yourself to something special. Send yourself a bouquet of your favorite flowers. Splurge on a spa session. Cook a great meal for yourself or call in a chef to prepare it for you. Pull out all the stops to make this day the best day of the year for nobody but you.
3. Spread the love. You don’t need a romantic relationship to enjoy Valentine’s Day. Spend time with friends and family. Do you know someone who’s recently widowed, divorced or going through a painful break-up? Is someone in your life dealing with a rough transition? Are you at odds with a friend or relative? “This is a great time to reconcile,” says Brousell.
4. Go on a “you” date. Take yourself out to dinner and a movie, or a concert. Then stop off somewhere nice for a nightcap to top off the evening.
5. Help others. Make Valentine’s Day a day of service. Studies have shown that volunteering improves mood and self-esteem. Donate your time to your favorite charity or nonprofit. Open the door for someone who needs it. Smile to someone who passes you on the street. “Receiving good feelings through giving is a wonderful way to be selfish and selfless all at the same time,” says Brousell.
6. Take time to reflect. What are you looking for in a relationship? Are you choosing partners whose values and goals are different from yours? Don’t dwell on failed relationships but do use past experiences to learn about yourself and look to the future.
7. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Just because you see couples partnered up on V-Day, don’t assume they’re blissfully happy or even remotely contented. Even if you’re in a couple, Valentine’s Day can still be a struggle, especially if expectations go unmet or there are underlying problems in the relationship. “Some of the best arguments have occurred on Valentine’s Day,” says Brousell. “It’s a great time for marriage and family therapists.”
8. Be your own best friend. Being able to love yourself and be comfortable in your own skin is a prerequisite for truly loving another in a healthy and mature fashion. “We don’t want to miss that kind of love because then our love for others becomes desperate and frantic,” says Brousell.