Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and that means different things for different people. While some love February 14 so much that they actually count down the seconds to its arrival, for others Valentine's Day can cause anxiety. You also don't necessarily have to be single to feel anxious about the day either. Even some people in relationships can feel anxiety over Valentine's Day, because it's been so hyped-up and overly commercialized, making it seem like the most important day of the year.
"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, of the Center for Mindful Psychotherapy, tells Bustle. "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 suggests reframing Valentine's Day. Instead of succumbing to its pressure and the often unrealistic expectations that come with it, see it as a day to love yourself and others in an open, stress-free way that doesn't play into the hype. You don't have to be locked into the commercialized concept of Valentine's Day; you can make it whatever you want it to be. Hell, you can even disregard the day all together.
But because Valentine's Day anxiety is a real concern for some, here's what to do to keep that anxiety manageable.
1. Shift Your Idea Of What's Romantic
"For some, just the idea of trying to be romantic can cause anxiety," Nicole Richardson LPC-S, LMFT, tells Bustle. "Your partner wants to know you get them, so showing that you know and understand them is the best kind of romantic."
In other words, you don't have to book reservations at the fanciest restaurant in town and shower them with flowers and candy. Romance is about showing you care and loving your partner; that doesn't have to mean giving them material things.
"What is something they enjoy but wouldn't normally do or get for themselves?" Richardson says. "Or maybe something you can do for them that will let them take it easy?"
Get creative and don't feel like you need to prescribe to the mainstream idea of romance.
2. Practice Self-Care
"Take the time to get back in touch with yourself in a way that is loving and non-judgmental," Zamani says.
No matter your relationship status, if you feel that anxiety creeping on up, turn to self-care. For some that means meditating, for others it could mean masturbating, while for other people it could mean taking a day off to just to focus on getting their mental health in check. It's OK to put you first, if it means you're taking your wellness seriously.
3. Treat Yourself
If your Valentine's Day anxiety is because you're single, think of it as a day to, treat yourself. Donna and Tom on Parks and Recreation did it one day a year, so why not make your one day a year on Valentine's Day?
"Plan something for yourself, even if it is a special night in alone," Richardson says. "Maybe a favorite meal and a thrasher movie."
4. Change Your Expectations
Valentine's Day, although traditionally a day devoted to love and showing your romantic partner that you love them, has become painfully commercialized. So if you shift your expectations, meaning taking them down several notches, you might find it will put you at ease.
"Talk to your partner and set realistic expectations," Richardson says. "If you don't feel comfortable with big shows, make a special date at home and a cap on how much is spent. This can be done in romantic way and make it a fun challenge to stay on a budget, as well as be thoughtful and romantic."
5. Remind Yourself That There Are Many Types Of Love
"Send your friends and family Valentines," Richardson says. "It's a great way to get some love back on the 14th and make other people feel loved and special."
Romantic relationships may come and go, but friends and family are forever.
6. Surround Yourself With Your Fellow Singles
If you're single, Richardson suggests planning something with your fellow singles if you think Valentine's Day is going to make you anxious. Although Galentine's Day is the day before, on February 13, that doesn't mean you can't round up the single friends two days in a row to help ward off any impending anxiety. Besides, some of your friends might be feeling the same way and will welcome the back-to-back days of fun.
7. Ignore It
"Like New Year’s Eve, it’s just another day," Treva Brandon Scharf, dating and IFC-life coach, tells Bustle. And it's so true! There's no better way to avoid the anxiety of Valentine's Day than to shrug your shoulders and let if roll off your back, no matter your relationship status.
Ultimately, Valentine's Day, if you choose to acknowledge it, should be fun. But if you can't beat the stress and anxiety surrounding it, know that you can just skip it all together. We shouldn't need a special day to show the people we love that they're the cat's pajamas; we should try to do that every day.