Pink, red and purple, classic colours for Valentine’s Day. But don’t forget blue
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), feelings of sadness, anxiety and loneliness are not uncommon both during and after the build-up to February’s tribute to romance and relationships. In fact, a US poll found a third of people (including those in relationships) say they feel more dread than excitement about the day. Those feeling lonely certainly aren’t alone either, a Canadian survey found that one in three people aren’t happy with their love life and one in four wish they had more friends.
“People with good social support might get a boost this time of year, but we should remember that for others, it’s a reminder that they may not have what they want or expect in their relationships and that can lead to lower mood or anxiety,” says Bev Gutray, CEO of the CMHA’s BC Division. “It’s not that different from what can happen during the December holiday season. You have commercialism, peer pressure, unrealistic expectations along with fewer hours of daylight, it can all reinforce a drop in your mental health.”
Here are 10 tips to get through the Valentine’s hoopla with your mental health intact:
Take time to appreciate the most important person in your life: you. Make a list of everything you have going for you and post it on your fridge. Treat yourself to something: a movie, a spa treatment, an arts or sports event, or even just a relaxing day at home.
Being single can be fun. Throw a singles-only party or attend one someone else is having. Or just hang out with friends and do something fun. You’re not the only unattached one out there.
Remember that romance may come and go, but good friends and family stick around. Call up pals just to say hi and go out for lunch or dinner. Tell your parents you love them. Buy something nice for your dog. Send Valentine cards out. Reach out to someone you love who might need your attention. Reminding people they matter is good for their mental health and yours.
If you’ve recently broken up with someone and start to miss them around Valentine’s, make a list of all the reasons that it’s better that you’re apart. You can also remind yourself that research shows being in a bad relationship is dangerous for your long-term physical and mental health.
Take a social media timeout if the messages aren’t helping. Take a break if you need to, but also remember that social media is a carefully curated snapshot so you may not see the downsides of relationships as often there. And even people with lots of friends can feel lonely if they aren’t getting what they need from their relationships.
Romantic relationships aren’t without their share of negative feelings. Remember that one in three Canadians living with a romantic partner argue at least once a week, so it’s not always about hearts and flowers.
Look at the bigger picture. A great way to gain perspective and remind yourself of others who are isolated and distressed and have fewer resources is to volunteer for a vulnerable group in your community.
For those whose partner has passed away, Valentine’s Day can remind you of Valentines pasts and the fact that you are no longer part of a couple. Allow yourself to be sad and don’t be afraid to acknowledge your regrets. Writing a letter and planning a special ritual can all be ways to help you say goodbye and “I love you.”
Learn stress-busting skills you can use year-round. If certain holidays often get you down, you may struggle with stress, low mood and worry at other times of year. CMHA’s Living Life to the Full course can help you develop skills to better manage problems, practice healthy thinking, and build confidence. To learn more, visit livinglifetothefull.ca
If the low mood and loneliness last, take action. The good news is low mood and loneliness can be changed. There are concrete things you can do to boost your mental well-being. If your mental health is affecting your life, there may also be something else going on. Check in on your mental health at bouncebacktoday.ca
CMHA is Canada’s most established mental health charity and the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health. CMHA helps people access the resources they need to maintain and improve mental health, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness. Each year in BC alone, CMHA serves more than 100,000 people all across the province.
For local angles, contact your local CMHA branch. For a listing, see: www.cmha.bc.ca