Inspiration

Is February 14 a complex time for you? You’re not alone.

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San Juan, Puerto Rico

Valentine’s Day wasn’t a subject I was sure I was going to write about, other than the six-course menu post for any occasion I put out. But since it is a holiday where depression is high, and suicide rates are the highest during the year, I couldn’t leave it alone.

I have a lukewarm reception to Valentine’s Day. I see issues with it, and I also like it. I always try to be balanced in my writing approach, but since this is partially an opinion piece, I’m sure my feelings will slip in here so I’ll just get them out upfront. I touched on it in my food post.  A brief recap:

Why I like it: I’ve liked it since I was a kid. I think it has to do with red being my favorite color. I loved cinnamon candy hearts, and I love giving and getting presents, anytime! In school, I would make gifts for all of my friends and bring cards for everyone in my class. My family celebrated Valentine’s Day. We still get together around it and give each other little presents to this day.

Why I dislike it: It’s commercialism at its best. And honestly, why is there a holiday that celebrates couples only? I can’t wrap my head around an exclusionary holiday. That’s why I like the way my family does it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in or out of a relationship; it’s for all of us. The cost of Valentine’s Day dinner also boggles my mind. How does a restaurant justify tripling prices by calling it a tasting menu? Yet restaurants are always packed.

It begins

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L’Artusi, New York

From Emiliana Simon-Thomas, a neuroscientist with Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, “Valentine’s Day is so shamelessly promoting this idea of passion and romance and the perfect relationship, and that’s difficult when people look at their own lives and wonder, ‘What’s wrong with me?’”

The commercialism around Valentine’s Day can be an overwhelming pressure. It’s already all over social media, tv, movies. Sales of greeting cards, jewelry, flowers, and chocolates will skyrocket; and like I mentioned restaurants would be booked out.

Every couple walking by hand-in-hand and each bouquet delivered to co-workers or friends can trigger feelings of grief, self-loathing, and failure for those who are feeling lonely. It can happen whether you have lost a loved one, recently broken up with someone, or are single but looking for a match.

If someone has a pre-existing mental health concern, this can trigger severe emotions.  After doing statistical research for this post, I found that suicide-related calls spike around Valentine’s Day and suicides are highest this time of year for countries that celebrate it. Romantic trouble is the primary cause for the calls that are received.

Even couples can find it overwhelming. If one or both of you aren’t into Valentine’s Day but have people continually asking you what you’re doing or what you got; it can get tough. If you are into it but don’t have a lot of money to spend, you can be left feeling embarrassed if your gift isn’t comparable to others.

Things you can do to avoid or reduce depression at this time

group of people at the gym practicing the tree pose

Exercise releases endorphins that help elevate your mood

Fortunately, there ways to prevent or reduce the holiday blues, whether it means doing something extra special with a friend or taking some time for yourself.

Here are a few tips for making the most of Valentine’s Day regardless of your relationship status. Start them today and continue them for days after February 14.

Focus on your positives

A key component of Valentine’s Day sadness is a sense of grieving. It can be for someone you’ve recently broken up with, someone who has passed, or someone or something you wish you had.

One way to balance this is to put life into perspective. Focus on the positive things you have achieved in your life, no matter how small they may seem. Think of at least one thing you did well, or that made you happy.

If you are grieving the loss of someone and you did celebrate Valentine’s Day, remember all the happy times you had and how they made you feel.

Make a list of your achievements, no matter how small they may seem to you. They may not mean anything to anyone else, but your accomplishments have worth to you. For example, you decided to cut out caffeine and finally kicked the habit; you finished a difficult project; you learned a new skill, or you changed your spending habits.

Think about the positive feedback you receive from family, friends or coworkers. Take the time to remember what it is about you that people find fabulous, especially during the times you’re starting to feel bad about yourself.

By recognizing your accomplishments and focusing on the positives, you can begin to understand your importance and that you have self-worth.

Stay away from things that will make you feel sad

If possible, don’t hang around with the people that may make you feel bad. The same goes for something that makes you feel bad. Maybe this isn’t the time to drown your sorrows in sad songs. Stay off of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat…all social media that will trigger negative emotions in you. I would recommend staying off of social media for days after Valentine’s Day. There will be lots of posts afterwards as well.

Do what you love

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The ingredients in vegetable curry can help reduce stress and elevate your mood.

Do something you enjoy, even if it’s something you’ve never done before. That could mean cooking a nice meal, going for a walk, or taking a class. I am a big proponent of treating yourself well.

Cook a gourmet meal. Do it for yourself or invite some friends or family over. If you need some inspiration, read my post This six-course home cooked tasting menu for one, two or more is boss.

Have a spa day. Spa treatments can make you feel like a million dollars. You don’t need to go to a spa, especially if seeing others will bring you down. Create a spa day at home. Read How to Give Yourself an Amazing Spa Day from wikihow.com to see how to do it.

Do something just for you. Here are just some ideas:

  • Buy yourself something new.
  • Workout. Exercise releases endorphins which help boost your mood.
  • Binge-watch your favorite movies or shows.
  • Try a dish you haven’t eaten before.
  • Take a class that day like a cooking class, or painting.
  • Read a book about an unfamiliar topic.
  • Watch a different type of movie than you normally would see – do you usually only watch comedies? Try a drama or sci-fi movie instead.
  • Take a look at your everyday surroundings and see if you can take some unusual photos. It will help you look at “everyday” things from a new viewpoint.
  • Rearrange some of the items in your kitchen or tackle a bigger change like rearranging your furniture.

Seek support

Most importantly, if you feel overwhelming feelings of depression or sadness, contact a healthcare professional, counselor or psychologist.

These are just some tips. If you have gone through this yourself, or are currently going through it, and have some suggestions that work for you and don’t mind sharing, can you please add them in the comments. Your suggestions may be able to help others.

41 replies »

  1. Thank you, Samantha, for cleverly providing alternative ways for celebrating, diffusing or getting over Valentine’s Day. In contrast, I simply became creative and published these posts, which I would like to share with you and your readers:

    Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Romantic Orchid Display, Art, Poetry and Game 💝🕊💌💘

    🦅 SoundEagle in Love and Dove, Art and Heart on Valentine’s Day with Gifts 🎁💝🕊💌💘

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This article is really on point. I have single friends who bitterly call Valentines Day ‘Singles Awareness Day’, so it’s definantly a sore spot for some. I’m single, too, it’s not a particularly bitter day for me; but it does elicit more feelings of lonliness than usual. I think coupled up folks may forget this. I like the ideas for self care; it encourages the reader to be their own valentine! Thanks for bringing light to this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you kindly for your comment. Although it’s coming from a bitter place, I have to say that your friends have coined a meaningful phrase. It is a point that I hope does resonate with more people. I am a huge proponent of self-care; I find it so helpful. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I hope you have a wonderful day.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for your comment. I appreciate it. I know quite a few people that dislike it or are “whatever'” about it. Not a lot of people talk about it and in watching the news this morning I can see why. Someone mentioned that he didn’t care for Valentine’s Day and no one could believe it, they tried to change his mind! I hope you have a wonderful day!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I have to say thanks for writing this post. A lot of people don’t think about the effects this holiday can have one others. It’s great that you opened up a conversation.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What a wonderful post Sam. I wish I had someone read this a while back. You have brought up to light so many important. Very well written. Well done ✅

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks a lot Rudina! It came to me the last few days on IG. There were countdowns to V-Day and a lot of photos were already coming out. I thought how tough this would be for some people and I need to write something about it. It was a tough subject to write about, I wasn’t sure it would work but I really felt it was important, even if hardly any one read it (I knew at least you would!). Thanks for that!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I never really think about Valentine’s day as being a holiday that people may struggle with. I guess that is because my wife and I have never taken it too seriously. However, I need to remember that some do and this couples-centric celebration may be hard for some. Thanks for posting and I hope this helps those who may have a challenging time this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for your comment Todd. I never really thought about it either until some of my friends started having a tough time with it and then it went from there. I was on Instagram the last few days and started seeing the countdowns to V-day and all the pictures and then thought, wow this could really be hard for some, I have to write something.I appreciate your comment very much. Thank you. Have a wonderful day!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing. This is a great post. I’ve never been much a of Valentines Day person as I am alone. It is hard to see all of the coupley things but I do try to focus on the positive things and know that a relationship isn’t always the best for you anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is an excellent post. I lost my wife to cancer last June and it is a very difficult time for me as well as my little children right now as was New Years. I have been trying to do some of these like busying myself with other things and staying off of social media…not that I’m on it much anyway. I will try some of these other suggestions too to see what will help. We are all in counseling as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you kindly for sharing your story Michael. It means a lot that you are able to write about it here and share some of the tips you’re using to try to cope with the recent loss of your wife. I am truly sorry for you and your children for your loss. It is a wonderful step that you are all seeing a counselor to help you through the process. Thank you again for sharing this; it will be so helpful for someone else that is experiencing the same thing.

      Liked by 1 person

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