Whether you're single and don't want to be, or just went through a bad breakup, it can feel like this Valentine's Day exists solely to rub it all in your face. You may feel surrounded by couples gazing each other or professing their love on Instagram, but there are ways to practice self-care on Valentine's Day so that it doesn't take a massive toll on your well-being.
The best place to start is by validating your feelings, and acknowledging how crappy it can all be. "Valentine's Day is triggering for people who may have experienced an ending or betrayal in a relationship, particularly because the cultural paradigm of Valentine's Day is so focused on being happily partnered," Dr. Justine Grosso, a licensed psychologist and mindful connection coach, tells Bustle. "The day may also bring up feelings of comparison, insecurity, and self-doubt."
Even if you can't see it right away, this mood lends itself perfectly to rethinking how you talk to yourself. "Self-compassionate self-talk includes acknowledging the normal distress we may feel on this day, making kind statements to ourselves instead of criticizing or invalidating our own feelings, and reminding ourselves that being triggered with unpleasant feelings is part of being human," Grosso says.
It's OK to feel sad, to think about the past, or to wish things were different. Once you acknowledge your feelings, and respond kindly, it can feel a little less powerful.
It might even help to share how you're feeling with a friend or therapist as a preventative measure if you think the day might be hard. "The holiday can [...] trigger emotions in you that you didn't even know were present," Elsa Moreck, a certified dating coach, tells Bustle. "So be proactive by enlisting one or two people to help you navigate them constructively when they come up."
From there, it's going to be all about treating yourself well around Valentine's Day, whatever self-care means for you. "Valentine's Day isn't about external validation," Moreck says. "It's about confirming the love we already have for ourselves, which we can express by [...] taking care of ourselves."
Journaling is one great way to connect with yourself. "Block out some time on this day to just free-flow in your journal and share any thoughts or emotions that come up," Moreck says. "You'll not only be fascinated by what you find, but writing things down is the best way to process, heal, and manifest new results."
Treating yourself to a nice evening at home can be comforting, too, and especially so if you turn it into an experience. "When it comes to self-care, focus on feeding the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch," Dr. Seth Meyers, a licensed clinical psychologist and eharmony’s resident relationship expert, tells Bustle. "When you engage in activities that trigger these senses, you comfort yourself not only emotionally but also physically, by impacting your Central Nervous System (CNS)."
When your CNS is balanced, it's easier to cope with your emotions, Meyers says, so go ahead and treat yourself with special meal that exhilarates your tastebuds. "Appeal to your sense of touch by getting a pedicure or a massage, or taking a soothing shower or bath with special bath salts or a body scrub," Meyers says. "Play music that makes you feel either joyful and stimulated, or peaceful and relaxed." And so on.
If you happen to need a bigger distraction on Valentine's Day, that's OK, too. You can always make plans with friends, plan a last-minute vacation, or simply get out of town for the day. Valentine's Day will be over soon, so if it happens to be triggering for you, focus on self-care, keep your head up, and look forward to what the rest of the year has to offer.
Dr. Justine Grosso, licensed psychologist and mindful connection coach
Elsa Moreck, certified dating coach