By Dr. David Woo - February 12, 2022
Valentine’s Day, although promoted by the greeting card, flower, and other retail industries as a joyful and romantic day, can induce feelings of loneliness and depression. Human beings have evolved to seek out intimacy, and Valentine’s Day can highlight the absence of such relationships.
Valentine’s Day may feel difficult if you’ve just broken up with someone, if you’re mourning the loss of a loved one, or if you’re feeling pressure to create the perfect romantic scenario. If you tend to feel lonely or sad on Valentine’s Day, you’re not alone.
People in Relationships Can Feel Depressed on Valentine’s Day, Too
While it’s true that Valentine’s Day can trigger depression in people who are single, people in relationships feel it, too. The holiday often brings with it unrealistic expectations that can cause couples to question whether they’re in the right relationship or whether they’re getting what they want from it. They might also be feeling the pressure of having to plan a “perfect” evening of fancy dinners, flowers, chocolates, and gifts, as well as the expense that goes with it.
What To Do If You’re Feeling Depressed on Valentine’s Day
During Valentine’s Day, here are some things you can do to take care of yourself and find ways to enjoy the day:
- Plan a day to focus on activities that you enjoy.
- Consider reaching out to a friend and making your own plans for Valentine’s Day. Choose activities that highlight your friendships and those for singles, versus couples.
- Focus on those around you that love you, appreciate you, and care about you.
- Focus on healthy outlets like meditation, yoga, and journaling positive feelings and events to avoid focusing on any negative emotions.
- Avoid comparing yourself or your relationships with others, everything has its flaws.
- Avoid trying to “fit in” by finding a last-minute Valentine’s Day date. Doing so could end up being disappointing.
Avoid Turning to Substances
While it can feel easy to turn to substances, like alcohol, to avoid confronting feelings of rejection, loneliness, and despair, the long-term consequences of using substances to drown certain emotions can result in further worsening of these emotions. The only way to work through difficult emotions is to feel them and confront them.
The best way to manage feelings of loneliness, despair, and depression is to confront them and talk about them. Working with a licensed therapist is a productive way to work through difficult feelings.
For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented form of therapy that may prove useful for reframing one’s thoughts surrounding specific events or situations, such as Valentine’s Day. CBT helps people learn to identify and “reframe” automatic, negative thought patterns with more realistic and balanced thoughts. For example, replacing harmful thoughts like, “I don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day. I must be unattractive,” with more neutral or positive thoughts, such as, “Many of my friends don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day. My friends and I are all attractive in our own way, and no one is perfect.”
When Valentine’s Day Depression Is Too Much
If you find that you feel more down and out around Valentine’s Day, or if you’re coping with the loss of a significant relationship or loved one, consider seeking help to address these feelings. Working with a compassionate and licensed therapist can help to accept these feelings and work through them in a positive way. To make an appointment, contact us online or call (212) 731-2033.