therapy

Last Minute Tips To Get Through Valentine’s Day

It’s possible that you’ve been dreading this day and now that it’s here, keep in mind that there’s just a few more hours you need to get through before it’s OVER.  Farewell.  Good riddens.  Until next year.  You can then move forward with the rest of the year once the clock turns midnight (or go to bed really early).

And I’m not just talking about people who are single — I’ve observed an increase in anxiety from people who are single, partnered, married, recently split/divorced, or in a new relationship.  Therefore, the following are some tips for minimizing anxiety and getting through Valentine’s Day with a sense of contentment:

FOR THOSE IN A RELATIONSHIP AND PLAN TO CELEBRATE VALENTINE’S DAY

1.  Do you get overwhelmed by the Valentine’s Day crowds and long lines at restaurants??  I’ve noticed that even extroverts wish to avoid public places on this day (myself included).  Unless you’ve already confirmed dinner reservations for a fancy pre fixe menu (dinner cancellations usually have to be made more than 24 hours in advance), then instead discuss with your significant other if they’re open to having a quiet night in.  Sometimes doing something simple that both of you would appreciate will make a far more memorable and meaningful Valentine’s Day.

However, if you’re in a fairly new relationship, then stick with the night out that you’ve already discussed, but be sure to allow yourself enough time to wind down and relax afterwards.

2.  Do you resent having to spend an excessive amount of money on Valentine’s Day? Well, you can rest assured knowing you’re not the only one who despises this corporate holiday.  An article from The Atlantic discusses how research done by Angeline Close Scheinbaum, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, found that there’s a significant amount of anti-consumerism associated with the holiday.

Here’s Scheinbaum quoting one of her research subjects in the Journal of Business Research:

Most (63 percent) males and some (31 percent) females feel obligated to give a gift to their partner for this holiday. Some couples discuss their frustrations; yet they still buy:

“Valentine’s Day is a way for retailers to get you to spend money in their stores. People get caught up in the B.S. and I should not have to spend extra to show I care, and my girlfriend agrees. But we both still spent plenty!”

3.  Be present and in the moment.  Oftentimes we set unrealistic expectations of what the ‘perfect’ Valentine’s Day is supposed to look like.  And the pressures of media (especially social media) causes many to desire that picture-perfect celebration, which distracts from the whole purpose of the night. Therefore, allot only a few minutes to snap a few memorable photos to document the occasion, THEN be sure to put the phone AWAY for the rest of the occasion.

FOR THOSE WHO ARE SINGLE, SEPARATED, DIVORCED, OR IN A LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP

1.  If you’re single, utilize this day to treat yourself.  Consider choosing an activity that allows you to reconnect with things YOU enjoy.  Remember, Valentine’s Day is often a time when people stress about trying to please the other person in their life, so celebrate the fact that you get a chance to treat yourself without the added pressure!  Whether your preferences consist of watching a movie, taking an exercise class, going shopping or out to dinner with a close friend, etc, be sure to plan something you enjoy.

2.  If you’re going through a breakup, separation, or divorce — spend time with those who are supportive and close to you.  If you’re unable to arrange plans with others, then be sure to arrange for something relaxing and semi-distracting (such as an exercise class, massage, shopping, etc).  Or consider arranging to talk on the phone/Skype/FaceTime, etc with a close friend/family member who understands what you’re going through.  Oftentimes Valentine’s Day causes people to feel even more lonely and sad about the split, but you can re-direct these thoughts by remembering the reasons you broke up in the first place.  Even though you’re sad, keep in mind that ultimately you’ll grow from this experience.

3.  Use this day to jumpstart your dating life.  Perhaps you’ve been wanting to sign up for an online dating site or have been holding off on having your friends set you up with someone — consider Valentine’s Day as a source of motivation (instead of a trigger for depressive thoughts).

4.  If you’re in a long distance relationship  — arrange for a phone or Skype date with your significant other, or spend the day with classmates, coworkers, or friends.  I was fortunate to have awesome classmates during residency and recall having a group dinner one year on Valentine’s Day.  However, if you’re a medical student or resident, you’ll likely have minimal time to celebrate and instead will be distracted by studying anyway.

5.  If you’re an independent thinker who prefers not to play into the hype of this ‘holiday,’ then protest this overly commercialized day by treating it as any regular day of the week.  Feel free to laugh at those spending hundreds of dollars on gifts and the angry drivers rushing to make it in time for their early dinner reservations.

Well, regardless of what you do, I hope your Valentine’s Day turns out to be one that’s the least anxiety-provoking as possible! 🙂

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