Even though the holiday is supposed to be about love and chocolate and cute cards, it's actually fairly common to experience low self-esteem around Valentine's Day. And it can happen whether you're single, married, or in a brand new relationship — all thanks to the pressure the day can bring.
"We receive a lot of messaging from society that, not only must we be in relationships, we must be in the perfect relationship," Allison Zamani, AMFT/APCC, from the Center for Mindful Psychotherapy, tells Bustle. We also want the day itself to be fun, and romantic, and packed with meaning. But the reality is, there's no such thing as a perfect holiday or a perfect relationship. So all you can do it be aware of your mood, and take steps to boost it whenever possible.
"If you find yourself judging yourself for being single, or feeling down because your relationship is not all that you want it to be, try to take care of yourself," Zamani says. "Reframing Valentine's Day as a day to be open to love both for yourself and for others can help turn your experience around and shift your energy."
Here are some ways to keep your self-esteem up during Valentine's Day, according to the experts.
1. Be All About That Self-Care
To ward off negativity during Valentine's Day, be sure to take plenty of time for self-care in whatever form feels right to you.
"Take the time to get back in touch with yourself in a way that is loving and non-judgmental," Zamani says. "Reframing Valentine's Day as a way to be open to love, rather than as a way to compare yourself to others, goes a long way toward making it a positive experience for you."
2. Focus On All Types Of Love
Remember that Valentine's Day isn't just about love between partners, but all types of love. "This takes the focus off of it just being about romantic relationships and lets you focus on loving yourself as well as the love you have for your family and friends," Dr. Helen Odessky, licensed clinical psychologist and author of Stop Anxiety From Stopping You, tells Bustle. So call your mom, text your brother, visit a friend — and let that boost you up.
3. Make Other Plans
If you think Valentine's Day will affect your self-esteem, take it upon yourself to change the whole tone of the month by making travel plans.
"Being purposeful about an upcoming day that you usually dread can turn it into something exciting that you look forward to," Dr. Racine Henry, PhD, LMFT tells Bustle. "If you're in a place with cold winters, booking a beach vacation can improve your mood overall with a good dose of Vitamin D." But even just a weekend getaway or fun night out can make a big difference in how you feel.
4. Get Out & Volunteer
5. Treat Yourself
"Don't wait on someone else to send you roses," dating and relationship expert Kelli Tellier tells Bustle. "Pick up a bouquet for yourself to display at home." Or whatever else might brighten up the day.
"If flowers aren't your thing, buy something you've had your eye on for a while," she says. "You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you bought it yourself." And that can be a meaningful little way to boost your self-esteem.
6. Treat It Like Any Other Day
"Like New Year’s Eve, it’s just another day," Treva Brandon Scharf, dating and IFC-life coach, tells Bustle. And bearing that in mind as you enter into the season of hearts and love can be a big help.
If you aren't feeling low, you can go about your business and pretty much ignore the fact it's Valentine's Day. But if low self-esteem grips you at the last second, don't be afraid to make a few plans.
7. Get Busy
"Way before Valentine’s Day, you need to get busy/active/involved with other pursuits to feel good about yourself," Scharf says. "That way, when V-Day rolls around [...] your self-esteem can overcome it with grace and aplomb."
8. Practice Gratitude
If you've heard good things about gratitude practices, and how they can boost your overall wellbeing, now's the time to put them to the test. So pull out your journal, and start listing all the things in life you're grateful for.
"When we focus on lack (of a partner, of love, validation, whatever) we fail to notice the things that we already have going for us," Sonia Frontera, a female empowerment trainer, tells Bustle. "A shift in mindset —being thankful for the beautiful things in our lives, like health, and supportive friends and family — will lift our spirits and help us feel better about ourselves."
9. Have A Few Go-To Affirmations
"Every thought we think is an affirmation," Frontera says, so take a moment to assess what yours are like right now. If they're negative, you can replace them with something more positive, such as "I am confident and capable" or "I am loving and fun to be with."
This will tell your subconscious mind a happier story, Frontera says. And that story will eventually be reflected in your outer life, in the form of higher self-esteem.
Of course, it may take some practice to get good at pushing away toxic thoughts, remembering to take care of yourself, and finding ways to feel fulfilled. But if your self-esteem falters around Valentine's Day, following these tips might be just what you need to get through it with your head up.