For the fortunate among us, Valentines Day means a romantic dinner with a new flame, or a special evening with someone they’ve loved for decades. For parents of young children, it’s a time for buying or making sweet treats and hanging paper hearts. For the cynical, it’s just a “Hallmark Holiday” pushed upon us by the greeting card, flower and candy industries.
But for many people, Valentines Day is a time of sharply aching loneliness. Especially for those who may have recently ended a relationship, who are recently widowed, or for others who have been alone for years or for a lifetime, Valentines Day really seems to rub it in. It can be very depressing to be surrounded by hearts and flowers when you have no one to give them to.
If you’ve read this far, you may be looking for ways to feel happier and less alone on Valentines Day and afterward. Here are a few suggestions:
Think of someone you haven’t seen in some time, perhaps an elderly relative, a distant cousin, an old friend, or someone you know who may be even lonelier than you. Reach out to that person in a personal way. A phone call is better than an email, a visit better still. Find out how they are doing, bring them a gift of food or invite them to see a movie or go shopping with you. Mail or better still, personally deliver a hand-written card. A “gratitude visit,” to tell someone how much they have helped or inspired you, is especially powerful as a way of lifting your spirits and changing your perspective.
Express yourself in creativity. Even if you don’t usually think of yourself as the creative type, you may find that painting, crafting, building, or baking can lift your spirits. For those who enjoy words, writing your feelings in the form of a poem, song, or writing a journal may help you move through the feelings of loneliness and feel a sense of release when you get your thoughts on paper. Or you may feel a sense of pride and satisfaction in a creating a batch of cookies to share with co-workers or neighbors, a craft project to display in your home or give away, or even rearranging your furniture creatively to give you a new perspective.
Improve yourself. Now might be a good time to re-start an exercise program, to take up mindfulness meditation, or to begin to explore, with the help of a therapist, any of your own traits that may have been a partial cause of your loneliness. Then again, more superficial self-improvement can work wonders for many of us: a new hairstyle may be exactly what we need for Valentines Day.
When all else fails, treat yourself. You’ve probably heard by now that chocolate is good for you; buy one of those heart-shaped boxes for yourself, just for today. Get a pedicure. Take yourself to a movie or play. Don’t make the mistake of waiting for someone else to come along before you can do something fun – plan a vacation for yourself or with a relative or friend, join a hiking club, sign up for golf lessons or tap dancing class. Being single doesn’t have to mean being sad.