Why Being Your Own Valentine is More Valuable Than a Holiday

February 13, 2019
written by:Claire Brandon, M.D.

Being your own valentine is not a bad thing.

These days it seems that Valentine’s Day is more of a Hallmark holiday than anything else, but why does it still have the ability to make us feel so down? Valentine’s Day historically is rooted in both religion and fertility rituals. Knowing this, it’s not too difficult to make the jump to love and partnership and why, at least in the United States, where online dating abounds and finding a partner remains the forefront of society, many people find themselves feeling more down on this day of heart shaped boxes of chocolate. Whether you are in a relationship or not, Valentine’s Day can be rough, but there are ways to think about this day as a target date to commit to being your own beloved year round. 

Expectations, expectations, expectations.

You are responsible for your own expectations and your emotional reactions, and being your own valentine can help you do that. So often we hope that our significant other or the person we’re dating will “make the day special.” The problem with that is, no one can read your mind about what makes you happy, not even someone who you feel the closest to. If you’re single, you are in control of the day, which can be a great gift. What would make you happy? What would help you feel loved? You don’t need someone else to create this for you.

Realizing you can pick and choose how you spend the free time in your day and mentally process this day of love to be self-love can be extremely empowering. It can be equally tough if you are in a relationship and hoping for a loving surprise. Discussing expectations on holidays and thinking about ways you like to be shown you are cared about is important no matter what the day. Be direct and express your needs, whether that’s to yourself or your partner.

Self-care is a lifelong habit. 

Every day can be Valentine’s Day when you are enforcing self-care. Self-care and understanding yourself better are important to daily wellbeing, not just when a holiday comes along. Understanding what you’d like for your life and what makes you happy can be a life long process, but putting in the work to think about yourself rather than why you aren’t in a relationship or on a date is much more productive.

Engaging in psychotherapy and working on cognitive processes and distortions can be extremely productive to figuring out the patterns in your life that might at times steer you wrong. You can work to figure out what kind of relationship is right for you and picking a partner that contributes to your happiness. 

How Being Your Own Valentine Can Have A Positive Impact

1. Work out.

 – Study after study has shown us that exercise releases mood boosting endorphins that can help us feel happy, give us more energy, and allow us to rest more deeply. It’s also a great stress reliever. No matter what level of exercise you go after (taking the stairs, walking around the NYC streets at a jogging pace, or hitting the gym), plan some physical exertion time for yourself. 

2. Eat your favorite food.

 – The connection between our brain and the food we put in our body is becoming more and more clear. But even the healthiest eaters sometimes need a treat. Grabbing something that reminds you of home, friends, or just plain makes you happy is a worthwhile endeavor in moderation. 

3. Make plans with a friend.

 – Just because you don’t have a date, doesn’t mean that you are alone. Humans are tribal beings, we crave community and togetherness. Make sure on days that you know might be tougher, like Valentine’s Day or other special events, you have your support group with you. 

4. Watch a funny movie.

 – “Laughter is the best medicine” is a good prescription on any given day. Laughing at a good movie or sitcom might be one of the best things you can do for your body and brain. The simple human act of laughing or smiling sends a feedback to your body to release endorphins to help you feel good and to decrease stress hormones in your body. Talk about natural medicine!

5. Stay off social media.

 – While the jury is still out on the full impact of social media on our brains and bodies, we do know that seeing someone else’s life appearing “perfect” when we’re upset about our own, doesn’t help. Searching for past loves, or wishing you were a celebrity likely won’t make you feel differently. Instead, staying off social media can decrease your screen time, thus reducing your eye and brain exposure to blue lights that mess up your sleep cycle. Opt for rest, and you’ll likely see social media influencer accounts more clearly. 

Valentine’s is just one day out of the year, but following steps of self-care and monitoring your expectations can lead to a whole new and happier you for the next 365. 

**This blog is not to be treated as medical advice, please discuss with your physician if you have any concerns.**

Claire Brandon, M.D.

Dr. Brandon is a dual board-certified psychiatrist in both adult psychiatry and consultation-liaison psychiatry (treatment of psychiatric illness in medically ill adults). She completed her residency and fellowship training at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and did a second fellowship in public psychiatry at New York University in New York City

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