As Valentine’s day approaches, even with shops, bars and restaurants closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, we are still bombarded with adverts, social media posts of loved-up couples and TV and radio shows focusing on romance related activities.  Valentine’s Day has become a huge (commercial) date in our calendars.  It really is hard to avoid the day.

For many it’s a lovely way of expressing our love for our significant other.  But for those who are not in a partnership and those who may be struggling with emotional pain, Valentine’s Day can prove a difficult day for many.  For some it may heighten the feelings of loneliness, singledom or for some, grief of loss of a recent relationship breakdown.  As we are still in the midst of Covid-19 restrictions, this could apply to you, even if you are in a relationship but struggling after nearly a year of lockdown restrictions and the pressure that brings.

Whatever your situation, here are my top 5 tips for navigating Valentine’s Day and feeling good:

1.     Separate your thoughts from feelings
On days like this it’s natural to reflect upon situations, but by distinguishing feeling from thoughts, we quite often find our thoughts don’t stand up to scrutiny. If you have thoughts such as “I’ll never meet anyone else” or “every relationship I’m in goes wrong” instead consider your words and thoughts and reframe it into something more positive such as “I’ve had four romantic relationships in my life, so there’s no reason to believe there won’t be more”.  If you’re in a partnership you may focus more on the perceived negatives ‘faults’ in your relationship and with your partner “They take me for granted” you can reframe this by exploring other aspects of your relationship “They did something thoughtful today”.   The more we reframe our experiences positively, the more we change our perspectives, feelings and approaches to life for the better.

2.     Be kind to yourself and others
Make this a day of treating yourself well (a good mantra for life!!) eat some nice food, set a goal for yourself – call a friend for a chat, go for a nice walk.  You could always brighten someone else’s day – an elderly neighbour who may be on their own may appreciate a treat being dropped over – a slice of cake, some daffodils, or even a phone-call.  Bringing joy to another is a good way of boosting your own mood.  If you’re one half of a partnership, it doesn’t need to be roses and chocolates, being thoughtful and doing something out of the ordinary (especially in these restrictive times) quite often says a lot more!

3.     Avoid emotional triggers
If romance is causing you problems at the moment then watching romantic movies and listening to love songs can be a sure way to elicit sadness and will invariably encourage unhelpful thought patterns.  Instead, soothing music or listening to a meditation will prove to be a better mood-buster (join me each Wednesday at 6.30pm for my weekly free meditation session via Facebook live, alternatively you can watch these back in your own time or visit my YouTube channel for other meditations and relaxation videos).

4.     Avoid ‘self-medicating’
Most of us enjoy unwinding and relaxing with a glass of something nice, however, using alcohol or any other drugs to numb emotions may provide a quick fix and short-term relief, but it is not a good ongoing strategy for coping.  Using these substances can interrupt the process of dealing with and letting difficult feelings dissipate and if you’re not feeling too good anyway, you’ll probably feel a whole lot worse with a hangover.  For those in a partnership, the effects of alcohol can create a warm fuzzy feeling but, as we all know, too much can put us in the wrong state and we can suddenly find ourselves acting in ways that don’t encourage connection or may lead to arguments.

5.     When to seek help
We all deal with things in our own, unique way.  If you are dealing with a break-up, quite often feelings of grief, loss or depression are proportionate to the length of the relationship, the way in which things ended and the meaning we attributed to the breakup.  A short fling is most likely to be easier to overcome than a relationship we had longer term hopes for.  Remember these feelings will run their course, but if feelings persist and may even start to interfere with your life, it’s definitely time to consider professional help.  For couples who may be experiencing difficulties, it may be a chance to create a space to calmly work through some of the things that are causing friction. Experience suggests that finding ways to calmly and kindly talk them through before they get too big, can save a lot of heart-ache in the future.

Resources Supporting your path through loss and grief: https://www.philparker.org/product/finding-your-path-through-grief

Discover how the Lightning Process can start you on the road to wellness – call 07930 289 671 or email info@philparker.org

Phil