Valentine’s Day is here, and while many of us dream of chocolates, roses, and romantic getaways, if we’re not careful, the only thing we might get is a dose of disappointment and heartache.  Whether we are single or in a relationship, Valentine’s Day can be stressful.  40% of people surveyed say they have negative feelings towards the holiday, so if you do too, you are far from alone!  Below is a Valentine’s Day Survival Guide to help you navigate the holiday so you are able to move beyond any negative feelings and enjoy it.

PUT THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE…

Ask yourself what this holiday really means to you.  Just remember that since we were young, advertisers have shaped our concept of Valentine’s Day.  We have been inundated with images of cupids, fancy dinners, sunsets, and diamonds, and all this visual conditioning has created an expectation of what should be.  That formula has worked for marketers.  The industry generates more than 14 billion dollars in retail sales each year.  With that in mind, do some digging on what this holiday really means to you.  Discover what you truly value and come up with your own definition of the significance of Valentine’s Day.

IF YOU’RE SINGLE…

Sad? Snap out of it!  If you’re having a one-person pity party because you’re single this year, its time to appreciate what you’ve got!  Being single on Valentine’s Day is not a telltale sign that you are doomed to be alone for the rest of you life.  Re-frame the situation.  Remember how great it is to be single, and how some of your married friends are jealous of your freedom.  Make a list of all the advantages, and truly savor those reasons because before too long, you could find yourself in a relationship, and this phase of your life will be over!


Organize a night out with other single friends.

  Find a positive group of friends and plan a fun night out together.  Do things you might not be doing if you were in a relationship: chose the place you want to go to, flirt with strangers, and stay out late.   

Make the holiday about others. Instead of focusing on you and all that you think you’re missing in your life, make this holiday about others. Research shows that when we do something nice for others, we get a bigger boost in happiness and life satisfaction than when we do something nice for ourselves.  Try giving your colleagues Valentine’s Day cards each with a sentence about what makes that person special.  Or maybe there is an amazing couple in your life; try making their Valentine’s Day better by doing something thoughtful for them. 

IF YOU’RE IN A RELATIONSHIP OR MARRIED…

Remember what Valentine’s Day is not.  This holiday is not a test of someone’s love.  It is not a way to check if your partner can read your mind.

Use the holiday to strengthen your relationship.  Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to take stock of the past year, and reconnect with your partner.  Take some time to reflect on what makes your partner special, and write these things down in the card you’re going to give them.  I have always believed the message in the card is the most important part of any gift.

Keep communication open.  Since your partner cannot read your mind, if you have certain reasonable expectations about what you’d like to happen this holiday – gently communicate them to your partner.  Also, make sure to ask what they might want.  This conversation could spark the start of some new traditions for the two of you.

Give a personalized gift from the heart.  More than anything, your partner wants to feel loved and appreciated.  If the two of you are exchanging presents, give a thoughtful gift that shows you have really been paying attention to your partner’s needs and wishes.  Often better than giving a material item is to plan a shared experience, such as a night out to the theater or a dinner at a special restaurant.  The experience builds positive memories, which both of you will always share.

Michelle Gielan is a writer, speaker, and expert in positive health & wellness. She works to empower people with strategies and tools to create their happiest, most authentic life.  For more inspiring articles and advice, you can follow Michelle here:

 

About the Author

Michelle Gielan
Michelle Gielan is a journalist and wellness expert, receiving a Master of Applied Positive Psychology from UPenn. She is a former national CBS News anchor.

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