We all know the seasons can play a significant role in how we feel, and each season can serve up its own emotional and mental health challenges.
We are in the middle of navigating the cold temperatures and darkness of winter and February is just around the corner. It may be the shortest month of the year, but it’s long on complicated feelings as it serves up both Valentine’s Day and Family Day – two holidays focused on relationships, the expression of feelings and the expectation of quality time. For many people these concepts may be complicated.
Valentine’s Day has long been touted as a day to celebrate romantic love. The day can conjure stress and anxiety for a variety of reasons:
For those in relationships, they may feel pressured to show love and appreciation in ways that could require immense creativity, significant expense, or extreme gestures needing resources or abilities that are not available to them.
Expectations around having or creating the perfect Valentine’s Day experience and the fear or reality of those expectations not being met can trigger feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt. For those struggling in their relationships, the holiday can also magnify their difficulties at a time when love, romance and relationships are unrealistically idealized.
Those who are single or struggling with a recent break up or the death of a partner may experience greater feelings of loneliness and loss as the holiday shines a light on relationships.
The Family Day holiday can also be a difficult reminder of loss or of the distance between loved ones. For those who have difficult relationships with family members, the day can create anxiety and stress, especially if there are expectations to spend time together.
For those who are estranged from their families or have had a challenging upbringing, Family Day can remind them of their difficulties and the emotional pain they have experienced.
Here are 6 things you can do to make Valentine’s Day or Family Day less emotionally and mentally challenging:
Make it your own
While Valentine’s Day and Family Day both ask us to show appreciation and connection with those we love, it is important to recognize that on the other 363 days of the year, we express our feelings or relate to people in our lives in ways that are unique to our relationships. You can choose to redefine how you acknowledge these days and create your own traditions that feel authentic for you. This can include connecting with people who are your chosen family members or for whom you feel gratitude and affection or perhaps redefining the days entirely by volunteering to help others in need in ways that make them feel supported and cared for.
Shift your perspective
Let go of the tendency to wish things were different than they are. Focus instead on the people and experiences for which you are grateful.
Keep it simple
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about expensive gifts or extravagant plans and Family Day does not require elaborate gatherings and activities. Spend time together, cook a meal, watch TV, play a game, get outside, opt for homemade cards. Keep it simple and focus on the connection you share and taking the time to appreciate the relationships that matter to you in ways that are meaningful for you.
If either holiday conjures difficult feelings or memories consider making the days about doing something that brings you joy, celebrates your journey and allows you to feel good or supported in your feelings. Consider a loving-kindness meditation, a walk in nature or a fun activity.
Take a social media break
Social media content will reinforce idealized versions of these holidays. Try to limit your time scrolling through content that will leave you comparing your situation with curated images.
If you are struggling emotionally or mentally, make an appointment with a professional therapist. They can help you navigate these holidays by providing support and guidance.
The team at Whole Heart are here to help support adults, teens, children and families both in-person and virtually as you navigate this time and beyond.
To learn about our programs and services go to: https://wholeheartmentalhealth.com/services/