Valentine’s Day is a day of the year that comes with lots of mixed feelings, heightened emotions, and often a sense of anxiety. A holiday like no other, there are many different ways that this particular commercial holiday has evolved to create a sense of distress.
A 2017 study found that almost 50% of Americans think that Valentine’s Day is “overrated", but more recent surveys show that this number has improved. Based on Facebook relationship status changes, data shows that the most common times for people to break up are Valentine’s Day, late February/early March, and two weeks before Christmas.
On the flip side, many people continue to consider Valentine’s Day as “romantic”, showing us that when it comes to this day of love declarations, the groups are pretty evenly split. Data from 2019 reported people as feeling "like you don't need a specific day to show each other that you love each other".
Alone On Valentine's Day?
For those who find themselves alone on Valentine’s day, it can be easy for all the marketing hype to make you feel as if you are missing out by not being part of a cozy couple on this most romantic of holidays. There are many different reasons why people might find themselves on their own on Valentine’s Day, and they aren’t all bad.
The Office for National Statistics reports that “women not living in a couple, who have never married” is rising in every age range below 70 years. Between 2002 and 2018, the number of singles between ages 40 and 70 rose by half a million. The percentage of people who had never married and were in their 40s doubled! More women are choosing to create lives and families without a partner, rather than compromising on finding “the one”.
Feeling SAD on Valentine's Day?
Others who find themselves single on Valentine’s Day may be dealing with conditions like social anxiety disorder (SAD) or they could be living with chronic pain. According to a study published in the journal of Pain, chronic pain can be a key trigger for developing anxiety, depression, and anger, and it can have a significant impact on social relationships.
Chronic Pain Definition
Chronic pain is still viewed as an “invisible illness” that has devastating impacts on people’s health and wellness. Chronic pain and loneliness often go hand in hand. When we injure ourselves we often experience pain but it is relatively short-lived and it usually has a purpose - to remind us to take extra care with our injured bodies. Chronic pain is defined as pain that “lasts or recurs from 3-6 months and often lasts long after its usefulness is gone". Many people who live with chronic pain experience this pain for months or years - some even for the rest of their lifetime.
People living with chronic pain often talk about feeling like they are “trapped” by their bodies and unable to reach out for help. Many people still don’t understand chronic pain, believing that the pain is all in the person’s head and that they “just need to get over it”. Subsequently the person in pain stops trying to explain their feelings, turns their feelings inwards, and so begins the cycle of pain, loneliness, and isolation.
Chronic Pain And Stress
When chronic pain starts to take over your life it can affect every aspect of your existence. You can no longer go for hikes with friends, take your dog for a walk, play a round of golf, or run a marathon. Gosh, some days you can barely get out of bed for breakfast! When your body and your mind are dealing with these relentless pain sensations it can have significant impacts on both your physical and psychological health. Stress makes pain worse because it directly impacts the nervous system.
Ways To Reduce Chronic Pain
So what can you do to help reduce chronic pain and stress?
Some of the same things that can help manage chronic pain can help you manage the stress associated with Valentine’s Day. On this day especially, it is important to shift your focus, express gratitude for what you have, and find ways to be your own best Valentine. Here are some of our top ways to have a fabulous Valentine’s Day when you have back pain.
Be Your Own Valentine
Instead of sitting around all day waiting for some secret admirer to pop out of the woodwork with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, treat yourself to things you really want! Sleep in late - or take the whole day off work! Eat your favorite foods all day. Plan some time to engage in a favorite pastime or hobby. Go see a movie you have been wanting to see for a while.
Show Yourself Some Compassion
A 2012 study published in the journal Anxiety, Stress, and Coping found that people who suffer with SAD are less likely to engage in self-compassion. Taking the time to slow down, being aware of how you talk to yourself and of how you are treating yourself can go a long way in increasing your levels of self-compassion.
Be Your Own Secret Admirer
If you can’t take the day off work and you are in an office where grand romantic gestures seem to abound - be your own secret admirer! Everyone knows Instagram life isn’t always what it seems - if you are doing it, others might be doing the same thing and being their own secret admirers. At least you know what you like, right? Send yourself a fun gift, a beautiful bouquet, or your favorite candy. Loving yourself is a great place to start!
Ignore Valentine’s Day
If you really can’t stomach the thought of all the soppiness and commercialism, no one says you have to even DO Valentine’s Day at all! Try to limit your social media use since seeing all the lovey-dovey posts can make you feel bad about your relationship status. A holiday is what you give meaning to, so if this one isn’t for you, don’t stress. It’s technically just another day on the calendar.
The marketing world will make the most out of any holiday so it is natural that, come Valentine’s Day, stores and social media, TV and internet will all be promoting romantic songs and movies and ads about romantic gestures. Just like our suggestion above, avoid these triggers if they only make you feel worse about the day. For people who have not chosen to be single these things can trigger intense sadness and depression. Do a marathon of your favorite scary movies or crime thrillers, instead. If you are feeling tempted to hit your favorite dating app, watching Netflix's latest show, The Tinder-Swindler might make you feel better about the single life for a bit.
Do Something Fun
Just because it is Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean that the world has to stop and we can only do romantic things on this day. Do something you have been meaning to do for a while. Go on a relaxing hike, play a round of golf, try a new workout or class you have been wanting to do. Order in a meal from your favorite restaurant - you know dining in is going to be crazy and cramped so you may as well create your own ambience. Having something to look forward to can put a more positive spin on the day. At least you know you will like the restaurant and the food, and the company is going to be pretty awesome, too!
Gather With Friends
If you have other single friends, going out to dinner as a group can be a lot of fun! Hanging out with friends can often be a lot more relaxing than going out on a date with someone new. You can let your guard down and just be you. When you are all in the same boat it adds a new dimension to the day and you can celebrate the gift of friendship and love. It doesn’t have to be dinner, either. Games nights, spa days, a cooking class, or watching a movie together can be a great way to spend Valentine’s Day.
One of our favorite movies is called ‘Love, Actually’. This romantic comedy features a who’s who of British stars and it has a timeless, at times heartbreaking, but all around the heartwarming theme: Love is everywhere. One of our best quotes from the movie states that, “If you look for it I’ve got a sneaky feeling that love, actually, is all around”.
No matter how you feel about Valentine’s Day, at LivaFortis we believe that love and kindness should be part of every day’s celebrations. From showing love and kindness to yourself as you go through your health and wellness journey, as you deal with chronic pain, manage depression, cope with stress, to showing that same love and compassion to others who might be going through some of the same things that you are.
2020 and 2021 have been tough for many. We love to celebrate things, not because the media or advertising world makes us think we should, but because we are genuinely grateful for each day that we have here on earth to celebrate and lift up those around us. We love to find the specialness in each day, as best as we can. And we believe that no matter what day it is, “Love, actually, is all around”.