As Valentine’s Day approaches, experts are encouraging singles who may feel vulnerable to tough emotions, to look after themselves well.
While many are happy to let the hype of the day pass them by, others will feel bombarded by the prospect of their friends enjoying a romantic time while they are alone.
If you are experiencing sadness, or are being reminded of past relationships or a breakup on this day, there are steps you can take to make things a little easier.
1 – Plan Ahead and Stay Busy
When potentially difficult days are approaching, particularly weekends, look ahead in your calendar and put a plan in place of how you’ll spend your time, doing things you normally enjoy. Keeping busy is important to keep your mind off negative or sad things.
2 – Reach Out to Friends
For singles, other single friends are usually their best allies around couples’ events like Valentines Day. Lock in a plan with a single friend to head to the cinema for a movie (aim for a non-romantic one!)
3 – Make Sure you Relax
Don’t just bury yourself in work or chores. Treat yourself kindly, with things you find relaxing – movies, reading, music, sport, prayer, time outdoors, or time with family or friends.
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4 – Avoid Turning to Substances
Nick Duigan, the senior clinical adviser at the youth mental health organisation Headspace, strongly encourages people who are struggling, not to turn to alcohol or other substances to bury their pain. It sets unhealthy patterns in place, and “the after-effects are likely to leave you feeling much worse”.
Moving through emotions instead and reaching out for support is a much healthier choice that will create healing and better well-being in the long term.
5 – Stay Healthy
For those who’ve been through a breakup and are grieving, remember that time helps to heal, and do your best to look after yourself physically with exercise and adequate sleep. If you’re a person of faith, keep going with filling your spiritual tank through prayer, worship, Bible reading, and connecting with fellow believers.
6 – Keep Your Distance From Ex-Partners
If you’re feeling nostalgic it’s definitely best not to re-contact an ex-spouse, or ex-boyfriend or girlfriend at this time, or seek them out on social media, in the hope of feeling comforted. It’s likely to stir up old painful memories. Time apart will help you to heal.
“Give yourself some space…this can mean online, too,” says Nick from Headspace.
7 – Know That You Aren’t Ever Alone
If you’re a person of faith, God’s word can be one of your greatest encouragements. Remembering that God has good plans for your life, cares about every detail, and is “near to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18), is a great comfort. In the difficult times, you are never alone, and God is at work to bring good out of a tough situation.
8 – Reach Out for Help if You Need It
While many people are able to work through their tough emotions after a breakup, for some, loneliness can be overwhelming. If that’s you, seek help.
“These feelings can have a big impact on your daily life and stop you from doing the things you enjoy,” says Nick. “If it’s been longer than two weeks and it’s having a major impact, it’s time to take action. If you’re struggling to move on after a break-up, or if you feel unsafe in any way, it’s important to talk things through with someone you trust.
You may want to reach out to a friend or family member, a pastor, a counsellor, or even your GP who can point you in the right direction for the best support.
For those who need immediate support, contact help lines such as Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 131144. The Headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation offers support and advice specifically for young people on 1800 650 890, or in their online chat room.