Hate Valentine's Day? Read this
“Not that time of year again!” It feels like we’ve only just got through the locked-down version of the festive period and now we’re fast approaching the day of outrageous public affection, romance and love. We even saw a heart-shaped steak at the supermarket the other day (far... too far).
For many of us, Valentines Day is actually not such a lovely thing at all. It’s a holiday date that can bring pressure, stress and loneliness (not to mention the fact that it can also cost us a small fortune). So, to help others in the same boat, we asked Grace, our Chief Life Coach, how we can get through the 14th of February.
Let’s get down to business
Whether we’re in a relationship or not, Valentine's Day can trigger a whirlwind of unexpected emotions. We might be going through a break-up or a divorce, still feeling the effects of one, or even secretly contemplating one - so the day can bring up sickening feelings of heartbreak.
It can be hard not to feel pressured to have that ‘fairytale’ love story we all idealise. But, fairytales aren’t real - that’s the point of them. When we’re surrounded by ‘ideals’ of any kind, we can start to believe that without them we’re not good enough. So, around this time of year, we can begin to feel that without ‘love’ we are not good enough - which is absolute rubbish (but also isn’t easy to switch off).
Now, please don’t freak out at the word trigger. So many people shy away from it (we might have already grimaced in the paragraph above), but this is the perfect opportunity to learn what triggers are and why they affect us.
What’s a trigger?
It could be anything. An event, memory, date or song. A sight or view, sound or smell. It’s basically anything that stirs up feelings that remind us of a past experience. We may not even realise why or what has brought up this whirl of previous feelings.
It’s not entirely known how we form triggers, but we do know that when we consolidate (or learn) information from experiences we give them meaning by attaching emotions. Hence, the stir of (all) emotions when we look at a picture from a previous relationship. For me, the smell of Calvin Klein One - a fine cologne - but one that casts me back to a previous relationship that doesn’t fill me with warmth and love, to be polite, is one of those triggers we’re talking about.
Triggers behind negative emotions will all be extremely personal and individual depending on our life experiences. Sometimes the consequence of a trigger can be just as unpleasant or traumatic as the experience itself so do take care and do seek support if it feels too big to handle right now!
What can I do to feel better about Valentine’s day?
Even those of us who ‘don’t care’ probably still care a bit. While we’re all physically restricted from seeing our family and friends we might all be feeling a little more lonely or vulnerable around Valentine’s Day. So, if we’re feeling a little blue, or we’ve been having a tough time with relationships, we need to cheer ourselves up. So my advice:
1. Do something WE enjoy.
It could be anything; a candle-lit bathtime, dancing in our PJs or cooking our favourite meal. Whether it’s on our own, with our partner or with our friends (virtually), it really doesn’t matter who we celebrate with, or how we celebrate, as long as we are enjoying it.
2. Stay off social media.
If seeing everyone else having a seemingly wonderful day full of love and happiness is going to wind us up, we can’t express enough how helpful it is to steer clear; remember that social media only shows the good bits. We wouldn’t continue eating an entire cake if we knew we were going to feel horribly sick at the end, so don’t waste the day on social media - eat the cake instead.
3. Remember that it’s only one day.
And if like me, anyone who feels Valentine's Day is a load of tosh (and not just because I’m bitter) then remember it is only one day so if it's a tough one that’s ok. A new day is coming and by the time it is here all of the love marketing will have disappeared, and all will resume as normal (or the new normal).
Final words of wisdom:
Whether it’s the idea of love, missing love, or even the holiday pressure, it can be difficult to manage our feelings on a day like Valentine's Day. But, we don’t need to be showered in gifts or walk across rose petal paths to feel loved. This year, take some time for self-love, and if romance is in the air, let’s celebrate it in whichever way suits us best.
For more advice on how to look forward and foster a growth mindset, check out our blog on hope here.