Feeling sad or feeling lonely on Valentine's Day is totally normal. Unfortunate, but normal. There's something so inherently single-shaming about the holiday that it's bound to affect a lot of people. And it's so not fair. But the truth is, if you're recently single, it's probably even tougher. If you've just broken up with someone, if you're mourning someone, if you're feeling any sort of fresh wounds anyway, then Valentine's Day is going to feel so much harder.
The best thing to do, for a lot of people, is to give yourself some self-care. "Focus on treating yourself special if you're single," Nikki Leigh, Love Coach and Host of Ready for Love Radio, tells Bustle. "Remember the first step on being ready for a healthy loving relationship is loving yourself. So use this as a chance to spoil yourself. Set aside time to fix or order in your favorite dinner, set the mood, if you enjoy candlelight — have candlelight. If you like to dress up or dress down, do that. Have a incredible bubble bath if you want. Plan a fantastic day or evening to totally pamper yourself just like you would pamper the 'love of your life'. This is something you should do for yourself on a regular basis anyway and this is a great day to start the practice."
But no matter how well you treat yourself, you may still being feeling blue. That's totally fine. You should never feel bad about feeling low. So instead, here are some ways to handle it, because you are definitely not alone:
1 Find People You Love
There's no need to feel down by yourself. "Valentine's Day can be hard for singles or those suffering from the blues but it doesn't have to be," Sexologist and author of Single But Dating (out May 31st), Dr. Nikki Goldstein tells Bustle. "This day is a celebration of love and that doesn't always have to be romantic love. Celebrate with those you love. Have a dinner with a group of amazing friends or even do something nice for yourself. It's a day to celebrate something positive no matter what your relationship status is."
I know if you're feeling alone it's easy to feel like the rest of the world has plans— they don't. Find people you love to spend time with, they'll probably jump at the chance.
2 Get Outside
Going outside is like medicine. Seriously, I have never regretted going for a walk, whether it's been city streets or dirt roads. Now, I'm not saying you can't do a Netflix binge with a friend if you want— you totally should. But find some time for fresh air as well.
3 Remember You're Not Alone
Take a step back and think of how many people are in the same position you are. Even if you've just gone through an awful break up— there are other people who have gone through an awful break up just before Valentine's Day. Everyone I know has had some really sh*t ones. "I always look at Valentine's Day as a recharger for singles more than as a day of celebration for couples," relationship coach and founder of Maze of Love, Chris Armstrong, tells Bustle. "... When I was single on Valentine's Day, even as a relationship coach, I found myself wanting, wishing I was in a situation to book that romantic table for two... Realize that there are millions of single people and that a very common thing is for single people to go out on Valentine's Day. Your future Valentine may very well be sitting in a bar somewhere feeling that exact same way you do. Get out there! "
4 Stay Busy
Remember that it's your job keep yourself busy, nobody else can do it for you. "I think that each person is responsible for making themselves happy and why now go all out on valentine's day and be your own valentine," Dr. Dawn Michael, a clinical sexologist and relationship expert tells Bustle. "Treat yourself to a night of indulgence, with champagne, chocolate covered strawberries and a great movie you have been wanting too watch. If you have a single friend invite them over to join you in celebrating be your 'be my own valentine.' I have personally been in this position and tried this and I felt much better rather than feeling sorry for myself!" And that doesn't have to be going out bungee jumping— even gentle activities can still count as staying busy.
5 Keep Some Perspective
It's way too easy to feel like being single on Valentine's Day— or being single generally— is an awful plight. It's totally not. There are people who love being single. More than that, there are people who are miserable in their relationships. "... it's very important to remember that just because one might be in a relationship doesn't mean that their life is perfect or that they are happy all the time," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "A solid relationship is definitely an important part of ones life but it isn't everything. There's friends, family, work, hobbies. Try to have a little perspective about relationships and how large they should loom in your life. Also remember that your coupled friends aren't necessarily having the time of their lives either! Valentine's Day carries very high expectations for everyone and unrealistic expectations often bring disappointment." Preach.
6 Try A More Positive Mental Attitude
Easier said than done, I know. Lord, do I know. "No matter how little joy you may feel right now, try to do something that spreads joy, either for yourself or for others," Marni Amsellem, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist, tells Bustle. "...Mantras can be so useful when coping with stress that seems extreme. Whether your mantra focuses on hope, acceptance, or another positive feeling, don't underestimate the power of words that we tell ourselves." If mantras aren't your thing, read a book that makes you feel good or try some yoga. There are plenty of ways to break out of a negative head space.
7 Think About How You Can Change It
If being single really isn't for you, think about how next year can be different. Being alone on Valentine's Day doesn't have to be all negative, you can turn it into something new "[I]t gave me renewed energy to do those things that put me in a position to be in a relationship the next year," Armstrong tells Bustle. "...Think about how sad you are now and ask yourself how are going to avoid this same fate and feeling next year if you simply wallow in it." Whether that means finally letting going of an ex, being more proactive on the dating scene, or getting more hobbies so you don't put too much pressure on dating, there are steps you can take. And feeling like you're doing something, even just making a game plan, will make you feel better.
It can be a tough day, I get it. Hell, I've been there. But remember you're not alone. Be good to yourself and find someone to spend time with. And tomorrow will be a new day.