Ah, Valentine's Day. The "Big Day" for coupledom. The exchange of chocolates, flowers and loving words. The warm feelings of affection and infatuation. Valentine's Day is a much-anticipated day for those in love, but it can be a discouraging day for those who are not.
For many of us, a number of things can hinder us from engaging in these celebratory acts of love--distance, prior commitments or just the lack a person to share this special day with. Hitting midway through the winter season, Valentine's Day can be especially depressing when the media and social networks get involved, with their jewelry and flower advertising, pushing Feb. 14 as the "only" day set out in the year for love and romance.
Celebrating Valentine's without someone can produce feelings of loneliness and rejection, especially for those of us who usually celebrate the holiday with someone special but are spending it alone this year. As individuals, we desire a connection to others so that we can keep thriving. Psychology research suggests that individuals who have a stronger social support network are happier, recover more quickly from disease, and are at lower risk for depression. Furthermore, the idea that "coupled" people are more mentally stable, happy and energetic can increase feelings of loneliness for individuals who are not in a relationship, thus leading them to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression. So, what is a person to do when he or she is feeling the "blues" of being single instead of embracing the fiery desire of love?
Well, single gals and guys, listen up! Here are just a few tips to change your mindset so you can enjoy Valentine's Day, instead of feeling defeated and frustrated. The first thing is to remember that love is not about a "set" day, receiving gifts or even being in a relationship with someone. Love exists in many forms. Embracing the viewpoint that Valentine's Day is essentially an invented holiday can be the first step in letting its pressures go and instead feeling confident about who and where you are in your life. And, lastly, remember that just because you are alone at the present moment doesn't mean it will stay that way. It means that your creator is busy writing your love story.
Are you unhappy with your single status this Valentine's Day? Consider these tips:
• Embrace being single: Try not to define yourself by your relationship status. Have you ever considered that being single is a good thing? It allows a nice sense of irresponsibility, in the sense that it is a time to reflect on your own personal goals, aspirations and desires in life, rather than someone else's. Since you will be in a meaningful relationship soon, enjoy the freedom that comes with being single.
• Get support: If you are single because of a recent loss, allow this to be a day to reflect on the good times instead of grieving. However, do not pretend that it's not a hard day. Surround yourself with support if need be.
• Change your mindset: Remember that Valentine's Day is a made-up holiday; therefore, it's not about "love," but about advertising companies making money off selling flowers, candy and diamond jewelry. Think of all the money you are saving
• Treat yourself: If you're asking yourself, "How can I enjoy myself on Valentine's Day?" you need to expand your concept of enjoyment. It's easy. Plan in advance and engage in activities unrelated to flowers, couples or fine dining. If you have to jump out of a plane, go rock climbing, get a massage or run a 5K to distract yourself, then do it! Be adventurous and make it through Feb. 14. Remember, this time too shall pass.
• Reflect: Being single can be hard. Try thinking about the "soon-to-be" relationship you want. Think about what really matters to you in a relationship. Start with yourself and seek out ways to work on yourself. Begin to volunteer. Mediate. Pray. Focus on your dreams. Make change. Dream beyond the normal. And remember, sometimes being single can be a blessing in disguise.
"Single: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled and Independent," by Judy Ford (Adams Media, 2004, $12.95)
"There Is Power In Being Single," by Larry Reese (Raffa Ministries, 2006, $20)
"If I'm So Wonderful, Why Am I Still Single?: Ten Strategies That Will Change Your Love Life Forever," by Susan Page (Three Rivers Press, 2002, $14.95)
"The Single Woman's Sassy Survival Guide: Letting Go and Moving On," by Mandy Hale (Telemachus Press, 2012, ebook $2.99)