5 ways to be kind to yourself this Valentine's day (whether you're single or in a relationship).
By: Shauna Gavin
Updated: 13 February 2020
Valentine’s day can be a very triggering time of the year for many. If you’re single, you have to deal with seeing happy couples plastered all over social media, rubbing their relationships in your face while you resign yourself to the fact that you’re going to die alone. If you’re in a relationship it's a different kettle of fish altogether. Being coupled up on Valentine’s day means either spending the rest of February eating 10 cent packets of ramen noodles for dinner or if you didn’t spend your entire paycheck, comparing your relationship to those that did spend that much. It's an over hyped day where absolutely no one wins except for the restaurants, flower and card companies and whether you love it or hate it, Valentine's day is here to stay. Here are some tips on how to look after yourself and your mental health this Valentine’s day.
Avoid social media.
One thing you can be certain of is that your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and so on will be inundated with flowers, chocolates and smiling selfies. Every time you open your phone, all that will be screamed at you will be “LOOK HOW GREAT WE ARE, LOOK HOW MUCH WE LOVE EACH OTHER, LOOK HOW HAPPY WE ARE”! When you’re a single person looking for love, this can be so disheartening and if you were feeling down to begin with, this could cause you to spiral. For the sake of your mental health, perhaps leaving your phone aside for the evening and focusing on something else may be helpful.
Try to not compare your partner and relationship to others.
Imagine you and your partner are together a few years and have been through a few Valentine’s days. There’s no real desire to put on the same show as you may have done the first year you were together. Now imagine you see your friend who’s in a new relationship and is having the classic OTT Valentines day with roses, a fancy meal, complete with a horse drawn carriage. No matter how logical you try to be and remind yourself that this phase of a relationship doesn’t last forever, that little voice in the back of your head will always pipe up saying “WHY DOESN’T MY PARTNER DO THAT FOR ME ANYMORE?”. Allowing thoughts like this to fester will cause you to feel anger and resentment towards your partner and cause unnecessary fights that could have been avoided.
Have a day completely dedicated to yourself.
Emma Watson came under fire last year for coming out saying she was not single but “self partnered”. This radical notion that someone could be fulfilled with themselves and not in a partnership ruffled quite a few feathers across the internet. It begs the question, however; why is there such an expectation that relationships are directly correlated to happiness and self worth? Answer: they’re not and people can live perfectly happy lives without a partner, thank you very much! So if you view yourself as your own partner, why don’t you hop on the Valentine’s day bandwagon and date yourself? Self care is vitally important for your mental health. Spend the day doing whatever your heart desires, just for you and there will never be a risk of being let down by a questionable gift or being subjected to something you don’t want to do.
Try to not put so much pressure on yourself and your partner to have the best day ever.
If you are in a couple who has planned the classic Hollywood Valentine’s day together, good for you! It is important, however, to remember not to over hype the day as this could lead to unnecessary fights when everything doesn’t totally go to plan. Having overly high expectations often leads to disappointment, especially when there is so much undue pressure on the couple to have the most romantic night of their relationship. What if one of you had a really bad day at work or one of you has a migraine or any number of small factors that can affect the “perfect evening”? When you have this level of expectation for the evening, a few flowers and a dinner in a cramped, overpriced restaurant will generally never meet make you feel like a Disney prince and princess. Is it any wonder that breakups are at an all time high after Valentine’s day according to a study released from Facebook?
Be logical by remembering to see Valentine’s day for what it really is.
When we are little children, we are brought up associating Valentine’s day with happy couples, roses, love hearts and the colours pink and red. Everything seems fantastic and happy and perfect. However, as we grow up and learn to think for ourselves more, many of us will have had our Neo from the Matrix moment when we learn that everything about Valentine's day is not as it seems. There is absolutely no doubt that Valentine’s day is fueled by the acceleration in spending it generates. A recent study done by the social payment app, Circle Pay, shows that most Irish people will spend an awful lot on Valentine’s day with the average gift costing €56. When this is averaged out across all Irish adults, the total spending for Valentine’s day comes to a whopping €200 million on one day alone. This, coupled with Valentine’s day’s potential origins in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia will definitely stifle any romantic connotations you may have had with it. Lupercalia was a festival of fertility which saw rituals involving animal sacrifice and whipping women with the pelt of the animals to ensure fertility. Not quite so romantic after all!
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