Valentine’s Day wasn’t a subject I was sure I was going to write about, other than the six-course menu post I posted on Friday. 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.
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.
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
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
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 previous tasting menu post.
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. I wrote a post with tips, “Feel like a million bucks with this all natural DIY Spastravaganza.”
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.
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.