- Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, mental strength coach, and international bestselling author.
- Valentine’s Day – the most romantic day of the year – when stores are overflowing with heart-shaped chocolates and bright pink teddy bears, can make single people feel even more lonely than usual.
- But being single on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to dampen your spirit. Instead, you can use it as an opportunity to practice self-reflection, self-care, and indulge in time alone or with friends.
- Schedule a dinner date with fellow single friends, and be grateful for the people you do have in your life – rather than focusing on the one person you don’t.
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From engagement ring commercials to coworkers discussing their dinner reservations, February can amplify loneliness when you’re single.
If you’re not careful, a heavy heart could lead to some bad decisions. You might be tempted to text that ex who isn’t good for you. Or you might settle for a date with someone who lacks long-term potential, just to alleviate your anxiety about being alone.
But being solo on the most romantic day of the year doesn’t have to drag you down. Here are five strategies for staying mentally strong if you’re alone on Valentine’s Day:
1. Practice self-compassion
When you’re alone on Valentine’s Day, you might conclude that you’re defective, unlovable, or even permanently broken. But beating yourself up for being single won’t do you any good.
Respond to your negative evaluations with self-compassion. Ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend who was struggling with this?” There’s a good chance you’d be much kinder to someone else. So practice giving yourself the same compassionate, reassuring words you’d give to a friend.
It can help you feel a little better about your situation and prevent you from concluding that you’re doomed to be alone forever.
2. Change the channel in your brain
Whether you romanticize past relationships (even the really unhealthy ones), or you predict catastrophic outcomes for the future (like becoming the lonely cat lady who children fear), don’t indulge in your negative thoughts. Change the channel in your brain to something more productive.
But telling yourself, “Don’t think about that,” isn’t likely to be helpful. Your mind will drift back to your negative inner monologue quickly, unless you do something to get your mind on another topic.
Wash the dishes, call a friend to talk about a completely different subject, or tackle a project you’ve been putting off. Doing something different can distract you and prevent you from spiraling into a full-blown pity party.
3. Practice gratitude
Recalling all the people and things you have to be grateful for can remind you that not having a partner on Valentine’s Day isn’t the end of the world.
Spend time thinking about the people you do have in your life, rather than the one person you don’t. There’s a good chance you’ve got some kind coworkers, loving family members, and inspirational friends, that make your life better.
If you struggle to think of people you appreciate having in your life, then make it a goal to change that. Seek out people who inspire you, support you, motivate you, and bring out the best in you.
4. Create a mantra
Drown out your negative thoughts by repeating a helpful mantra as needed. Only you’ll know what’s truly going to be helpful to you. But every time your brain predicts doom and gloom, repeating something like, “Being alone is better than being in a bad relationship,” or, “I’ve been through way harder things than being single on Valentine’s Day,” might make you feel better.
You might also need to create a comeback that will help you respond to people who feel it’s necessary to point out your solo status. Whether your grandmother likes to remind you, “I was married for a decade by the time I was your age,” or your mother gives you backhanded bits of reassurance like, “Don’t worry, honey. Someday you’ll find someone who is able to put up with you,” be prepared to respond with a short statement. Say something like, “I’m doing just fine by myself right now. But thanks for checking in.”
5. Plan something that will be good for you
Without a plan for how you’ll spend Valentine’s Day, the days leading up to the 14th can be filled with more dread than necessary. And reaching the big day without a game plan might mean you’ll end up spending the evening on the couch binge-watching Netflix alone.
So create a plan for how you’ll spend your time. Whether that means making dinner plans with your single friends, or it means spending the evening updating your online dating profiles, do something that will make you feel better.
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