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There are times in our lives when putting on a “happy face” can be a real emotional struggle. For some, Valentine’s Day on February 14 this year will bring up feelings that are raw and difficult, especially if loneliness and grief are present in your life.
Valentine’s Day is all about love, romance, couples and togetherness. If feelings of loss or sadness arise because you do not have that “special someone” due to a recent loss or you are alone, the day can seem like a rather cruel and in-your-face display of what others (seemingly) have and you don’t.
So what are the best ways to deal with February 14 if you are emotionally fragile?
The first is to realise you are not alone on Valentine’s Day. Many of us feel lonely, and not just on one day of the year. A recent Relationships Australia study found one in six of us experience periods of emotional loneliness, that is when we don’t have enough people in our lives to support us especially in tough times.
Another study found one in four Australians report feeling lonely. It is a health issue as it can affect us physically, emotionally and mentally.
There are many ways to deal with loneliness but it’s important to determine what best suits you as an individual. You may find it hard to articulate the fact that you are lonely, particularly on Valentine’s Day. There is no stigma associated with loneliness, it is okay to acknowledge it, both to yourself and others.
Perhaps you have fewer friends than you would like, you’re shy or introverted, you’ve just moved to a new city or you have struggled with a variety of challenges recently – remember that your best Valentine is yourself. Probably one of the best lessons in life is to learn to enjoy your own company more than anyone else’s as we will all have to experience being on our own at some point. You can be alone and not feel lonely.
If you are grieving the loss of a significant other, acknowledge that it will be difficult to deal with, though it may be constructive to devise strategies that could work for you.
We all experience grief differently so it is best to ask yourself what would you find comforting? It’s a good idea to not feel pressured to be a certain way: cope in whatever way you believe is appropriate – you may feel resilient, you may not.
Perhaps you will decide to treat it as just another day and avoid watching the news, listening to the radio or looking up social media where it is likely to be discussed and on show throughout the day.
You may want put your thoughts and feelings down on paper and journal your day… Or perhaps you will need to honour the person you are missing on Valentine’s Day in some ways.
Maybe the focus needs to be on you. You could, for instance, do a stock take on how well you have been looking after yourself during your grieving. Are you eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and sleeping adequately? If these are somewhat lacking, be kind to yourself and practice some self-care on Valentine’s Day – and every day.
Whichever scenario you choose, don’t be concerned about expressing your vulnerabilities. It’s okay to tell a friend, family member or a counsellor that you are feeling unsettled, sad or upset about Valentine’s Day.
If you find that you need help to deal with this, Relationships Australia NSW offers various counselling services, including face to face and online. To speak to a counsellor today follow this link: http://www.relationshipsnsw.org.au/support-services/face-to-face-counselling/