Don’t forget about yourself on Valentine’s Day

Alex Ourth, Courier Staff

Valentine’s Day. The designated day each year where we are instructed by society to show our significant others how much we care about them through mushy cards, expensive gifts and grand romantic gestures.

For those with healthy, fulfilling relationships, the holiday can be a joyful celebration of the love between two people. For many others, including single individuals and those in toxic relationships, the holiday can serve as a painful reminder of the absence of true love in their lives.

For these people, the holiday can bring with it a variety of mental health challenges, whether it be episodes of depression from feelings of loneliness, or episodes of anxiety from trying to live up to unrealistic expectations. But what if it didn’t have to be this way? What would it look like if we put aside all of the gimmicks and placed our focus back on the main pillar of the holiday: love?

For single individuals, this would include shifting our focus away from the romantic relationships that we don’t have, and instead focusing on the other loving relationships we do have in our lives. Showing our friends, family and colleagues how much we appreciate them and care for them can have a powerful impact on our outlook. It reminds us that we love and are loved by a variety of people in this world, and that our worth is not deemed by our relationship status. It also brings those same feelings of worth to those that we show it towards, further working to reduce the feelings of loneliness often associated with the holiday.

For those who may be in a relationship, it would include dropping the Hollywood romance expectations and actually focusing on loving the other person. I’m not saying that buying a gift or planning a romantic evening are bad things. However, when these actions themselves become all-consuming or are done simply out of expectation, it can be problematic. Remembering that real love is simple and unconditional could help to reduce anxiety around this holiday.

The final fundamental shift that would take place is an increased focus on loving oneself. Even though loving and appreciating oneself is a key aspect to loving and appreciating others, we hardly ever think about ourselves during this holiday. Taking time to remind ourselves of our positive attributes and engaging in self-care activities (treating ourselves with a favorite activity or gift) can really have a positive outcome on our self-worth. And having a strong sense of self-worth can have a great benefit to our mental health.

So, as the Valentine’s Day festivities come about this week, I encourage you to keep the focus on love. Remembering that love can stem from a variety of relationships, and that to ultimately be happy, we must be able to love and value ourselves.