Canaan, CT – Valentine’s Day is no bed of roses for many who are single or unsatisfied with their love lives. As images of happy couples flood social media feeds and advertising campaigns during the build-up to February 14th, some people consider a lack of Valentine’s Day plans to be a sign of personal failure, leaving those without a date feeling excluded, isolated, and insecure.
“People are often conditioned by society to derive their self-worth from others, resulting in feelings of inadequacy when they find their interpersonal relationships to be lacking,” says Carolee Paruta, Regional Director of Outpatient Services at Mountainside treatment center. “People can train themselves to replace damaging thought patterns with positive ones over time. They can start by using Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to ‘date’ themselves and turn their attention inward to address their own needs.”
Rather than dismissing the holiday altogether, Paruta recommends seeing Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to practice self-compassion and foster feelings of self-worth. Some may be tempted to ruminate about what they don’t have instead of everything they have achieved, but one way individuals can remind themselves of their positive attributes on Valentine’s Day is to record past accomplishments in a journal or create a list of qualities they value in themselves.
In addition to setting aside time for self-care, those who are feeling vulnerable leading up to Valentine’s Day should surround themselves with a support network that can offer companionship and words of encouragement. Loneliness impacts 46 percent of Americans, according to a survey by the global health service company Cigna, and Valentine’s Day can heighten feelings of isolation. A lack of social connection increases the likelihood of developing anxiety and depression. It also presents a substantial relapse risk for those recovering from mental health and substance use disorders.
“Participating in a lighthearted activity with close friends can reinforce positive connections and reduce some of the stress associated with the holiday,” says Paruta. “This encourages people to view Valentine’s Day as a celebration of other meaningful types of love rather than a measurement of their ‘success’ with dating.”