Valentine’s Day can be a rough holiday for any single person. But if you’re going through a separation or are freshly divorced, the feelings of loneliness are felt more deeply and loom larger for you on the day that celebrates romantic love and coupledom. You should acknowledge these feelings, but resist the urge to throw yourself a pity party on Valentine’s Day. Instead, consider some more positive options.
Throw a party
Who says Valentine’s Day has to be only for lovers? If you don’t have children (or if they’re with your ex on Valentine’s Day) invite your single friends – who also might be feeling the sting of being alone on Valentine’s Day – and go ahead and get the red or pink balloons and heart decorations if that makes you smile. If that seems a little too festive right now, try a lower key potluck dinner at your home. Whatever you do, stay away from the restaurants that will surely be full of couples reminding you that this year, you’re flying solo.
If you have your children with you on Valentine’s Day, work on a craft together, play games, or bake heart shaped cookies celebrating the love that you share as a family. Watching a favorite family movie with a bowl of popcorn works too.
The link between exercise and mood elevation is undeniable. So lace up your sneakers and hit the gym. Go for a run on the track, or take that new fitness class at your gym that you’ve been meaning to try for weeks. If doing something alone doesn’t appeal to you, then grab a friend or two and go for a walk in the park or hike in the woods. Being outdoors has also been shown to elevate your mood and improve your sense of wellbeing.
Even if you are no longer half of a couple, you are still special. Celebrate your individual self and do something that makes you feel cared for or pampered. Treat yourself to a massage, a pedicure – or a whole day at the spa. Buy yourself that book you’ve been eyeing at the bookstore, or your favorite flowers or chocolates. Be kind to yourself.
Treat someone else
Sometimes the best way to nurture your own soul is to do something kind for someone else. Call your mom or dad and tell them how much you love them. Visit a relative who lives alone and would welcome your company and conversation. Or do something kind for a stranger, like visiting someone at an assisted living center who doesn’t have anyone to share the day with, or volunteering at a soup kitchen. When you take the focus off your problems to care for someone else, it’s a win-win situation.
If, however, you find yourself breaking down at some point on Valentine’s Day, don’t beat yourself up over it. It takes time to process, grieve, and heal after divorce, and days like these aren’t easy. As best as you can, keep your mind off the past and surround yourself with the people who love and support you. Then remind yourself that it is only one day out of the year; you’re going to be okay.