Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, but it can also be a source of stress. If you’re in a relationship, you may feel pressured to pick out the perfect present for your partner. If you’re single, you may feel alone, wishing you had someone to spend the holiday with. As much as you may like to, it’s practically impossible to ignore Valentine’s Day because everywhere you turn, there are heart-shaped cards and boxes of chocolates, reminding you that February 14th is just around the corner.
This year, why not embrace the holiday by turning your attention inward and being your own Valentine? By practicing self-care, you can have a happy, healthy holiday, regardless of your relationship status.
Here are a few tips on how to care for your mental health this Valentine’s Day.
Take care of your body
Our minds and bodies are connected. Eating well and exercising regularly both go a long way toward boosting your physical and emotional wellbeing. A balanced diet rich in vitamins and nutrients and low in saturated fat is good for your brain, while a steady workout routine helps to alleviate stress and anxiety.
According to research conducted by Johns Hopkins University, mindful meditation practice can help reduce stress-related symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. Quieting your mind can also help improve your mood and attention span. Start small, with a five-minute guided loving-kindness meditation, to send positive thoughts and warmth toward yourself and others.
Hang out with good friends
Human beings are social creatures. We crave connection with others who support us, understand us, and value our presence. Isolation can have a negative impact on not only our mood, but our physical health as well. This Valentine’s Day, make an effort to reach out to your friends and loved ones – the people who make you feel valued – and enjoy an instant boost in your overall well-being.
Get plenty of rest
We all need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night to function at our best. Without it, we feel sluggish and irritable, unable to fully enjoy our waking hours. But sleep is also important for our bodies – it’s is when our organ tissues grow, our muscles relax, and our brains restore chemicals necessary to keep us mentally healthy. Make sure you turn out the lights and get to bed at a reasonable hour.
Unplug from social media
While many of us use social media to keep in touch with people we don’t see very often, too much of it can be bad for us. Seeing the way others curate their pictures and posts can leave us feeling envious, isolated, and unhappy. Even Facebook itself has admitted how dangerous its own product can be for mental health. Instead of scrolling through Instagram this Valentine’s Day, make real world connections through phone calls or in-person visits with those you care about.
Nothing will make you feel worse in both mind and body than indulging in alcohol and drugs. Drinking or using may provide you with a temporary escape from reality, but the long-term negative effects are just not worth it. Avoid situations where you might be tempted to drink or do drugs.
Above all, treat yourself the way you would treat any Valentine: with kindness, respect, and love. Engage in positive self-talk: praise yourself for a job well done, forgive yourself for mistakes, and express hope and optimism for your future. And if you want to, go ahead and buy yourself some flowers.
Reach out for help
If you’re struggling with your mental health this Valentine’s Day, you’re not alone. Sometimes, it can be hard to admit we need support, but help is available. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member who can listen and lend you a hand. Or call Alvarado Parkway Institute’s 24-Hour Crisis Line at (619) 667-6125. No matter what you’re going through, you can overcome it – and you don’t need to do it alone.