By: Anthony Scardina, NAMI Dane County Intern
For many, Valentine’s Day means one of three things: you’re either restocking your half empty bag of Halloween candy for the next six months, celebrating the day with a significant other, or, if you’re like me, you’re Netflix and chilling with a pint of your favorite Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
Sure, the intention of Valentine’s Day is to celebrate love, but for some, the holiday may leave you feeling anything less than excited. In fact, Valentine’s Day can be one of the toughest days of the year. Everywhere you turn, you’re surrounded by the constant reminder of other people’s happiness and love, which can create stress, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness and hopelessness.
If Valentine’s Day is leaving you feeling this way, here are some strategies that may help lift your spirit.
1) Celebrate all your relationships
Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to pause and reflect on all the meaningful relationships in your life, not just romantic ones. Take today as an opportunity to reach out to those who are important to you and express your love and appreciation for them.
2) Practice self-love
On top of the stress and anxiety you may feel about Valentine’s Day, you might already be struggling to manage the symptoms of your illness due to the cold weather and lack of sunlight during the winter months. Whatever it is that makes you feel less stressed – a bubble bath, going for a walk, a nice dinner, a spa day – do it! Today is a perfect time to love and take care of yourself. Appreciate your needs as much as you use the day to recognize other important people in your life.
3) Do something that makes you feel good
Doing things that make you feel good is simply a great mental and emotional health practice. In addition to practicing self-love, consider helping others by donating your time or making a contribution to a cause you are passionate about. Helping others can leave you feeling rewarded and fulfilled, boosting those feel-good chemicals in the brain.
4) Get rid of the “shoulds” and act from a place of gratitude
For some, the prospect of Valentine’s Day can make you feel worse about yourself. You might tell yourself, “I should be happy being alone,” “I should be married by now,” or “I should be doing better in my recovery.” This negative self-talk certainly doesn’t help if you’re feeling bad on Valentine’s Day. But just because you think you should does not actually change how you feel. A good strategy to change your perspective is to replace every should with two thoughts of what you do have. Do this and you’ll quickly find yourself approaching the holiday from a place of abundance rather than a place of absence.
If this holiday is a tough one for you, we hope these four strategies will help. And from those of us at NAMI Dane County we want you to know: if you need a Valentine today, we will be yours! We love you!