The season of love is upon us, and the red hearts and cuddly teddy bears have already started filling up shop shelves. This means that already people all across the country are feeling the pressure, anticipation or even dread that comes every year with Valentines Day.
It should come as no surprise, many of us struggle to live up to the ideals we see on TV, in advertising or on social media around Valentine’s Day. If you’re in a relationship, it’s all about whether you’ve bought the right thing, booked the right restaurant, are going to the right place, showing enough affection in a big, flamboyant enough way.
If you’re single, this kind of messaging can make you feel like there’s something wrong with you. Alone, lonely and a bit broken. If this sounds familiar, we wanted to let you know that you aren’t alone. Really. Valentine’s Day can be an incredibly hard time of year for many people, with feelings of loneliness, sadness and frustration coming to the fore.
Why Is Loneliness Worse Around Valentine’s Day?
If we go right to the root of it, loneliness is worse around Valentine’s Day because it’s a holiday all about couples. A celebration of love and sharing your life with someone else. So if you’re single and don’t have anyone in your life, this can hurt. It’s important to remember that loneliness isn’t just about not having anyone around. It’s about not feeling connected to other people, which can be an incredibly isolating and sad thing to experience.
It’s also important to remember that many people find themselves alone on Valentine’s Day for different reasons.
The reason for your loneliness can have a huge impact on the feelings it brings up and how it manifests. For example, if you struggle with social anxiety and you’ve been trying to meet someone but haven’t been successful yet, that loneliness can be incredibly frustrating and could even come out as anger. If it’s because you struggle with low self-esteem, this can be a sad realisation and make you feel worse. But if you’re alone because you lost your special someone, either through a breakup, divorce or because they passed away, grief will probably be what’s occupying your thoughts. Because although all of them are different situations, they are all grieving the end of a relationship.
The Impact of Valentine’s Day on Mental Health
There’s no denying that Valentine’s Day can and does have a detrimental effect on mental health, particularly if you are alone and don’t want to be. That lack of connection with others can influence how you feel, act and how you see the world, which can have an impact on your overall mental health. According to research conducted in 2020 around loneliness and Valentine’s Day:
- 58% of people say they feel like no one knows them well.
- 49% always or sometimes feel as though they lack companionship.
- 47% said that their relationships with others are not meaningful.
- 45% said they feel that they are no longer close to anyone.
Compared to the previous year’s results, loneliness and connection have become a much bigger problem at this time of year than they used to be. Instead of bringing joy to all, this celebration of love and togetherness is, in fact, highlighting how different, alone or low we feel. This can have a significant impact on your mental health and self-esteem, particularly if you already struggle with mental health problems. In fact, some research suggests that Valentine’s Day is the start of an annual rise in suicide rates that peaks in April.
Beating The Valentine’s Blues
So what can you do to help yourself or someone you care about get through this challenging time of year? We have a few suggestions for you:
Reach Out: This applies to both people who struggle with loneliness and people who don’t but know someone who does. Reach out for help and support. If you need a friend to make you feel loved and valued during this time of year, ask them for some care and a bit of their time. If you know someone who is lonely or withdrawn around February, make sure you check in with them and offer support where you can, even if it’s just a friendly ear over a glass of wine.
Treat You: If you’d prefer not to ignore Valentine’s Day and pretend it doesn’t exist, you can go the opposite route and make yourself your Valentine. Make it a day to treat yourself to some indulgent self-care and focus only on yourself. You can eat your favourite foods, engage in hobbies you enjoy, sleep in late, take the day off work and even buy yourself flowers and chocolates. Pamper yourself!
Avoid Triggers: If you’re feeling like Valentine’s Day is going to be too much for you this year, do your best to avoid some of the common ‘love triggers’ that could make things worse. Love songs and romantic movies are firmly off the table for the first half of the month, especially if you’re struggling because of a split or grieving. Instead, try watching and listening to something new, in a genre you wouldn’t usually choose.
Singles Night: If you’re wanting to have company on valentine’s day as a distraction, why not plan an evening get together with some single friends? Being in the company of others can help ease the lonely feelings and stop you from repeating negative thought patterns. Whether you have a board game night, watch a movie or do cooking and cocktails evening, spending quality time with friends can get the serotonin flowing and improve your mood significantly.
At The Holistic Healthcare Group we believe that mental health is just as important as physical health, and should be treated in the same way. That’s why we focus on providing resources and support for a wide variety of mental health conditions, including loneliness, low self-esteem and depression. If you feel Valentine’s Day is a difficult time of year for you, please get in touch with us and see what we can do to support you. And if you’d prefer to do things on your own, you can download our app MELP for access to hundreds of tips, techniques and guided exercises to practice yourself.