Somewhere around the time the New Year’s Eve parties ended, retail displays transformed from winter wonderlands to Cupid’s playgrounds. But whether you dread it or eagerly anticipate it, Valentine’s Day can also serve as a reminder that we can all use a bit of TLC (tender, loving care), regardless of our relationship status.
Unrealistic depictions of Valentine’s Day — outrageous marriage proposals, over-the-top dinner dates and more — can make the pressure to feel like you have to pair up and/or make everything “perfect” seem overwhelming, to the point that you may feel anxious. According to Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), everyone experiences anxiety (not to be confused with anxiety disorders) at some point in their lives. Anxiety is a feeling of worry caused by perceived threats in the environment that can manifest in feelings of fear, stress or nervousness, and physical symptoms such as increased alertness or rapid heart rate.
The good news is there are many ways to keep anxiety at bay. Here are some tips from Mental Health First Aid to help make the most out of this Valentine’s Day and manage any symptoms of stress or anxiety.
Focus on self-love and self-care.
Self-love is vital to mental wellbeing and helps reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. In fact, according to the MHFA curriculum, those who pay attention to their own physical and emotional health adapt to change better, build stronger relationships and are more likely to recover from setbacks. Whether you’re marking Valentine’s Day solo or with a special someone, consider nurturing the relationship you have with #1 – yourself!
Communicate expectations and be present.
Your expectations of grand gestures and movie-worthy dates can lead to disappointment if they only exist in your head. If you are in a relationship, remember that your partner can’t read your mind and communicate what’s most important to you. Even if your partner decides to plan a surprise, try to stay open to new experiences rather than fantasizing about one ideal scenario.
To make the most of the big day, practice mindfulness and staying in the present moment. Focus on the “here and now” by practicing grounding techniques like listing everything you can see, touch, hear, smell or taste to stay connected and enjoy quality time with your partner.
Focus on what you can do together.
It’s easy for loneliness to get the best of us when it comes to Valentine’s Day, especially if you can’t celebrate together in-person. To help you feel close to your loved ones, focus on the things you can do together like:
Holidays are great reminders to spend quality time with the people who mean most to us. Love comes in many forms – partners, family, friends – consider celebrating any or all of them this year.
Whatever you decide to do – whether it’s a fancy meal out, a romantic comedy marathon, binge-watching sports or a baking day – focus on acknowledging all the things you’re grateful for. Practicing gratitude is linked to improved wellbeing and life satisfaction. It can be as simple as, “I’m grateful to have a family to celebrate with;” “I’m grateful to be healthy and able enough to bake these treats;” or “I’m grateful to be so loved by my friends that they want to spend this holiday with me.”
We hope you enjoy a stress-free and memorable Valentine’s Day. For more ways to manage anxiety and #BeTheDifference for yourself, check out these related blogs:
Carmichael, C. (2021, February 13). The simple guide to beating Valentine’s Day anxiety. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-high-functioning-hotspot/202102/the-simple-guide-beating-valentine-s-day-anxiety.
Greene, P. (2020, February 7). Dealing with Valentine’s Day depression. Anxiety & Depression Association of America. https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/dealing-valentines-day-depression.
Herreria Russo, C. (2016, June 6). The happiest part of Your vacation isn’t what you think. HuffPost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-make-the-most-of-vacation_n_5755b42ae4b0eb20fa0e906d.
Khorrami, N. (2020, June 29). The positive impact of gratitude on mental health. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/comfort-gratitude/202006/the-positive-impact-gratitude-mental-health#:~:text=Here%20are%20at%20least%205%20ways%20that%20gratitude,making%20us%20or%20another%20in%20lives%20feel%20valued.
Leatherman, J. (2018, July 24). 13 methods of anxiety relief that don’t require a prescription. Lifehack. https://www.lifehack.org/789815/anxiety-relief.
Mayo Clinic. (2018, May 5). Anxiety disorders. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961.
Mental Health First Aid. (2020). Mental Health First Aid USA for adults assisting adults. National Council for Mental Wellbeing.
Nall, R. (2018, June 8). What is separation anxiety disorder in adults? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322070.
Nicholas, S. (2019, October 22). 45 positive affirmations for anxiety and stress reduction. Happier Human. https://www.happierhuman.com/positive-affirmations-anxiety/#:~:text=Affirmations%20for%20Anxiety%201%20I%20choose%20to%20feel,brave%2FI%20am%20strong.%2011%20I%20will%20be%20OK.
Sandoiu, A. (2018, March 23). Why self-love is important and how to cultivate it. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321309.