Ahhh amore. Nothing like a little romance, eh? That is, unless you’re single. Or single with coupled friends. Or coupled but in a rough patch. Or in a number of other scenarios that make this well-meaning holiday more messy than fabulous. Whether you love it or loathe it (or are somewhere in-between!), Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. And while the first half of February and Valentine’s Day can be magical, they can also make people acutely aware of their lonely moments or singleness. Take 21-year-old me, for example: I had just gotten – unexpectedly and unceremoniously – dumped by my long-distance boyfriend, one week before Valentine’s Day. That would have been bad enough on its own. Now let me share that I was, at the time, living in a sorority house filled with sisters, all of whom had plans to attend a full weekend of formals and holiday events. Did you get the ALL WEEKEND part?! Meanwhile, I, with no dates, a wasted bus ticket and no plans had seemingly nothing better to do than commence a weekend-long self-loathing spiral… a bit dramatic, but did I mention it was also my birthday week?! Oy.
Cue my well-meaning father’s shipment of not one, but two cheesecakes – one for my birthday and one for Valentine’s Day straight to yours truly. Yes, that’s right folks: two entire cheesecakes for lonely old me during what felt like the most miserable February ever. (The v-day one was even in the shape of a heart…) So what did I do? I took some seemingly solid advice from the late, great Marie Antoinette… and I ate cake – a LOT of cake! Needless to say that weekend was followed by a lot of regret (and leggings… only leggings… for quite a while!), as well as a realization that Valentine’s Day might not be all it’s cracked up to be.
Now that I’m all grown up I’ve experienced everything from incredibly great to incredibly crappy Valentine’s Days (not to mention Valentines!), which is how I know that the holiday has a lot to be improved upon! So whether you’re in happy relationship at the moment or you’re loathing every teddy bear-filled store aisle, here are a few ways that you can make this February and this Valentine’s Day more inclusive, both for yourself and for others:
- Send Valentine’s Day notes/texts/gifs/cards etc. to your friends/family – let the important people in your life know how much they mean to you. These can be funny or serious, but be sure to keep them genuine!
- Sign off of social media – let’s face it, everything from Instagram to Facebook is going to be filled with photos of flowers and rings and all sorts of lovey dovey things that can spark jealousy/feelings of bummy-ness/loneliness or you name it… So just skip it this year! (And if you’re in love and loving life, please post with care and consideration!)
- Book a self-care hour or afternoon – whether you do this at home, in a gym or at a spa, opt for something relaxing and refreshing. A yoga class, massage, or a facial are all good options.
- Take the day off – if you’re feeling extra vulnerable this year and you don’t think that the distraction of work will be able to overshadow the constant flow of flower deliveries to the office (or if you’ve just been really wanting a “me” day and need a hint from the universe!), use one of your personal days and stay home. If you’re able and interested in coordinating with a friend, awesome! Flying solo? The movies, aquariums and the gym all tend to be safe bets on this holiday!
- Skip the candy aisle – in the weeks leading up to any holiday, candy comes out and most of us are programmed to think of chocolate, in particular, as a feel good food (makes sense, given the dopamine rush we get from it!). But sitting at home, sadly eating chocolates a la Elle Woods post-Warner isn’t cute, or helpful!
- Learn from my cake mistake – if you want to treat yourself, go out and get something decadent, eat your single portion and then move on! No need to eat a bag or two – or a whole container – of anything! (Trust me on this one!)
- Don’t be afraid to reach out for support – therapists, friends and family are all good resources if you’re feeling down!
- Keep it in perspective – whether you’re flying high or hating everything, it’s just a holiday. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself (or your relationship!) simply because of one specific calendar event.
- And finally: remember that it’ll pass. Like all things, the holiday will come and go. Hold on, breathe deep, and move on, you fabulous being you!