Paige Rechtman, LMHC
Valentine’s Day… every year you come and go, and every year, the weeks leading up to your arrival can be anxiety-inducing.
I spent most of my 20s dreading this holiday. And over the years, I have developed methods to not only survive this day, but to even look forward to this time of year…
What changed? I started dedicating February 14th to self-love instead of romantic love. If there is a day to celebrate romantic love, there should definitely be a day where we can nurture and cultivate the love and compassion we have for ourselves.
Whether you’re single and fabulous, in a committed relationship, ghosted, or confused about the romantic situation you’ve found yourself in, here are some ideas to help you survive this holiday and use it to your advantage.
Show your heart some love by giving it a gift it truly needs – exercise. Not only will you be doing your heart a favor, you’ll generate a burst of endorphins in your brain. A good cardio workout is one of the best ways to take care of yourself, and literally change how you feel. An upbeat, positive playlist while you’re working out can be even more helpful! Which brings me to….
Music is magic. It has the ability to completely shift a person’s mood. When you’re down, it can lift you up. It can energize, inspire, or provide a cathartic release. Music is a powerful form of self-expression, and brings clarity and healing when words don’t suffice.
This year, start your V-day off right by listening to music that makes you feel good. I’d like to share this self-love playlist I created on Spotify, with hand-selected songs whose lyrics speak to my soul, help me feel more empowered, and remind me that it’s all gravy, baby.
Pro tip: Take one of your favorite love ballads, and direct the energy of those lyrics to yourself. The results are astounding! Over time, those loving messages you tell yourself will become a part of who you are.
This is a super fun exercise that sounds kind of wacky but will spice up your commute and your day.
Take some time, when you’re around other people, to silently zap them with loving energy. Here’s how:
Spend a few moments focusing on each person in your vicinity. Each person started as a group of cells, and became the living being they are today. Each person has their own story, a life full of trials and tribulations, and is going through something. They could probably use some love and kindness.
Imagine generating a bolt of electricity coming from your heart, full of love and good intentions.
Become your own cupid and shoot each person an arrow full of that loving energy.
I tried this out the other day, and this is what it looked like:
That rabbi on the train scrolling through his phone? Zap! You’ve just been sent a bolt of loving energy from me. The woman with the red lipstick, reading her novel? Zap! I just sent you loving energy too. The teens who just announced “IT’S SHOWTIME!!” Zap! Zap! Zap! As you were swinging from the subway poles, you were being love-zapped. You’re welcome.
I couldn’t help but smile while doing this. When we direct loving energy towards others, it actually creates more feelings of love and happiness within us. We are reminded of the connectedness between all beings, and our own problems start to loosen their grip on our lives.
[Self] Love Letter
No boo to celebrate the day with? Your partner forgot to get you a gift? No problem! You can buy yourself your own Valentine’s Day card and write a loving message to yourself.
The act of writing words of loving kindness down on paper can be transformative. It has a different effect than repeating these words in your mind, or saying affirmations out loud.
Start by thinking about characteristics you like about yourself. You can write about some of the hardships you’ve gone through, and where you are on your own journey right now. This is a time to focus on your strengths and the things you appreciate about yourself.
Once you’re done writing, read it out loud. Or, if you want to take this exercise a step further, mail it first! There is something very moving about receiving a love note in the mail, especially when it’s from you.
Pro tip: Valentine’s day cards will be on sale in a few short days. After the holiday, buy a few, and save them for when you need an extra boost of love and compassion from yourself.
Let Your Feelings Flow
If none of these interventions work and you’re just not feeling yourself today, let it be. Allow yourself to experience your emotions as they are, without judgment. Talk to a friend, watch a sappy movie, have a good cry. Letting those feelings flow through you can be healing in and of itself.
The important thing to remember is to meet your pain/sadness with self-compassion, and kindness. There is no shame in being who you are in this moment. Here are a few mantras to keep in the back of your mind if your V-day is not sparking joy, and you simply can’t get out of your loneliness funk.
“Whatever I feel is okay. I am trying to give myself the compassion I need.”
“What I am experiencing is uncomfortable, but I will get through it.”
“This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is a part of life. This moment will not last forever.”
Valentine’s Day is just another day. If it can be celebrated in a way that brings joy, positivity, and love to your life, then GREAT!
And, if February 14th is a day you are not looking forward to, just remember, February 15th is only a day away.