When the most romantic holiday of the year is fast approaching, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you are the only one who is single on Valentine’s day. This can be especially true if you live with social anxiety. If your anxiety is holding you back from meeting someone or building a relationship, being single on Valentine’s Day can amplify your feelings of inadequacy.
It’s important to remember at this time of year that Valentine’s Day is just a manufactured holiday that you can choose to participate in or not. As much as it might feel like you are the odd man out and everyone else is in a couple, the truth is that it’s just another day out of the year.
Along those lines, I’ve compiled 10 things not to do if you are single on Valentine’s Day.
Hang Out on Social Media
One of the worst things you can do if you are already feeling bad about your situation is to hang out on social media all day. Remember: everyone is showing you their best side. Yes you might see lots of happy couples extolling the virtues of their relationships, and sure some of them might actually be that happy–but as a whole what you are seeing is not an accurate depiction of reality.
To deal with this illusion, try staying unplugged for the day. Don’t go on Facebook, Instagram, or whatever social media channel you know will make you feel bad about yourself. There are lots of days out of the year when you can practice feeling happy for other people’s successes; today isn’t the day.
Stay at Home and Feel Sorry for Yourself
Let’s face it: staying home might feel like what you really want to do today, but how will it make you feel in the long run? You’re better off making plans to get out of the house if you know that you will just be moping around.
Make plans to go to a comedy club, go on a day trip or overnight trip, or even to a museum or planetarium. I know these things might be hard to do if you live with social anxiety; if that’s the case, start small! Just go for a walk around the block or somewhere else you feel safe. The point is to do something so you don’t feel like you are being left behind today.
Think You Have to Do Romantic Things
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you have to plan romantic things to do on Valentine’s Day; totally not the case! Why not do things that are anti-Valentine’s just to show yourself that it’s just another day?
Depending on where you are in overcoming your social anxiety, you might consider hosting an anti-Valentine’s Day party for other friends who are single on Valentine’s Day, taking advantage of a couples deal or package with someone who is just a friend, playing secret Santa with friends who are single on Valentine’s Day, or going on a “date” with someone who is just a friend.
As much as it might feel like Valentine’s day should be all about you and your significant other, it doesn’t have to be that way. Why not make the day all about thinking about people other than yourself?
Some ideas might include babysitting for a couple who never has any alone time, visiting an elderly person who doesn’t have any family, or planning a romantic dinner for your parents!
Guess what, you don’t have to be responsible today! Throw caution to the wind (budget permitting) and go on a shopping spree. Make small talk with cashiers or other people you meet along the way to practice your social skills. Consider this: you aren’t spending money on gifts or dates like people in couples are doing, so why not spend that money on yourself? Yes, this is the opposite of not being selfish, but if you’ve got all your other ducks in a row, why not.
Do the Same Old, Same Old
There’s a risk when you are single on Valentine’s Day of falling into the same old rut, especially if you tend to be alone on this holiday. One way to deal with this is to break out of your comfort zone and do something completely different.
Ideas might include starting a new tradition such as writing in a gratitude journal. Another unique idea is to plan on getting crafty or artsy for the day. Art therapy is known to help with anxiety, and a mandala coloring book or Valentine’s-themed swear word adult coloring book (for the adventurous) might be just what you need to feel better today.
Forget About New Beginnings
While you might feel like Valentine’s has to be about continuing a connection of a relationship that’s been ongoing for a while, there isn’t any reason why it can’t be the start of something new. Why not say yes to that blind date you’ve been too nervous to accept or jump on that dating website you’ve been afraid to try out. What’s the worst that could happen? Give yourself a little leeway today about “taking the first step” and not worrying what the long-term outcome will be. It could turn out to be fun.
Focus On It
Don’t. Focus. On. It! The more you focus on this holiday and the fact you are alone will also reinforce your feeling that there is something wrong with you. Try not to worry about the fact that you are single on Valentine’s Day. Just make it like any other day of the year
Let Yourself Go
Make yourself a priority! Just because you don’t have a significant other in your life, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on keeping yourself healthy and vibrant. These are things you should be doing for yourself regardless. Ideas might include going to a spin class, spending the day at the spa, going for a new hairstyle, or treating yourself to a massage.
Be Afraid to Treat Yourself
It’s one day out of the year. If you’ve followed the rest of the advice in this article, don’t be afraid to treat yourself a little bit. Maybe that means a movie marathon with the lead role played by your secret crush. Or it could mean indulging in a favorite dessert. As long as you are working on your anxiety and taking steps to push beyond your comfort zone, there isn’t any reason why you can’t spend a little time on yourself today.