Are you single this time of year and dreading the overwhelming pictures of love in the air wherever you go? The commercialization of Valentine’s day can make some people feel sad and anxious during this month, especially so if they are single. The aisles full of heart shaped candy and incessant television commercials depicting seemingly perfect couples can make single people feel like they’re the only ones who are not in a relationship, resulting in feelings of low self-worth and low self-esteem.
In an interesting Tedx talk, Jasmina Najjar discusses how society traditionally views singlehood as a defect. Especially among older adults and in certain cultures, it’s thought that people can’t be both single and happy. She argues, however, that happiness, fulfillment and companionship can be found in a lot of places, including friendships, work, travel and hobbies.
Indeed, this can be the case. You need not be in a relationship to feel content on Valentine’s Day. In fact, if you are feeling stressed out about how you will spend it in the absence of a significant other, you can plan ahead of time to fill your day with activities that will keep you happily busy.
You can plan to spend your day with people you care about, whether it’s visiting family or hosting a dinner party for your friends. This will help to reinforce your social connections and lessen your chances of feeling lonely. You might also consider volunteering on Valentine’s Day at your local soup kitchen or church – there is no feeling like that of being able to pay it forward. It’ll make you feel good about yourself while being surrounded by people who are thankful to have you in their lives. You could also get creative and immerse yourself in a new project with a friend or two, such as going to a Paint Nite event. The challenge of a new task and the associated social interactions will keep your mind healthily engaged, leaving little room for negative thoughts and loneliness.
If, throughout the month, you find yourself falling prey to societal pressures or feelings of loneliness, try to actively counter them. Look at a recent break up as a chance for personal growth, rather than a loss that cannot be overcome. Think about a long spell of singlehood with a hopeful rather than cynical lens. You have the power to change the way you feel about a situation by changing the way you think about it. As the poet William Ernest Henley wrote “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
So, if you’re feeling nervous about having to spend Valentine’s Day alone, start making plans to spend your day with people you care about or by doing something for others. Don’t let the commercial reminders of love you see all around you bring you down. Enjoy the day, whatever may be your relationship status!