Monthly Wellness Corner - February 2024

February 6, 2024

Embracing Mental Health Wellness This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a holiday traditionally known for love and romance. Though this holiday is often associated with romantic relationships, it is about all forms of love, most importantly, self-love. This day is an opportunity to show love and appreciation to others and extend that same love and care to ourselves as well.  We must remember that this holiday can be particularly challenging for those who are feeling lonely or are struggling with mental health issues. We need to acknowledge the impact that this holiday can have on our emotional and mental well-being. This Valentine’s Day let’s take proactive steps to support ourselves and those around us.

Celebrating Self-Love and Self-Care

To me, self-love means taking care of ourselves, recognizing our own worth and prioritizing our mental wellbeing. On this day, engage in self-care activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Some examples include – taking a long bath, dancing to your favorite song, playing with your pets, doing a favorite workout, reading a favorite book, or simply taking a walk in nature. Use this day to reflect on your accomplishments, growth, and the journey you’ve had thus far. Acknowledge your strengths and areas for growth with kindness and compassion. It’s important to set boundaries that honor your needs and well-being. It’s okay to say no to situations that might be triggering or bring up negative emotions. It’s okay to give yourself permission to disconnect from social media or decline invitations to gatherings that make you feel uncomfortable.

Managing Expectations

Valentine’s Day often comes with high expectations, which can result in feelings of inadequacy and stress. You can keep those expectations in check by communicating openly with your partner or by setting realistic goals for yourself if you’re single. This day is an opportunity to celebrate love of all forms, not just the romantic kind. Often, relationships that are portrayed in social media are idealized, but they do not represent real life experiences. Therefore, try to resist the urge to compare your situation to others because each relationship and individual is unique. Comparison can often distract us from our own happiness. If you’re in a relationship, discuss with your partner how you’d like to celebrate in a way that feels authentic to you both and try not to give in to societal pressures.

Connecting with Loved Ones

You can also strengthen your mental health by connecting with your loved ones, friends, family, and those who matter to you the most. Use this time to reach out to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, send a heartfelt message to a family member, or volunteer your time to help others in the community. These acts of kindness and connection can improve your overall mood and create a sense of purpose, belonging and fulfillment.

Creating New Traditions

If the traditional Valentine’s Day celebrations don’t resonate with you, this is the opportunity to create your own. Create new traditions that align with your values and promote mental health and wellness. Host a gathering with your friends, such as a Galentine’s Day potluck or dinner, go on a group hike, or start a creative project. Journaling what you are grateful for can help you to focus on the aspects in your life that bring you joy. Dedicate this day to exploring a new hobby or interest that you’ve been curious about. Establishing new traditions on Valentine’s Day will not only boost your mood and self-esteem, but it can help to transform this day into a celebration of self-love.

Practicing Mindfulness and Seeking Professional Support

Practicing mindfulness can help to manage the emotional ups and down that this holiday might bring. Relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga, can help to keep you grounded and present. These techniques can help to reduce anxiety and increase feelings of peace rather than focusing on societal expectations or negative self-talk. If you find that Valentine’s Day triggers deeper feelings of depression, anxiety, or loneliness, it may be a good time to seek professional help. There are numerous resources available, including therapy and support groups that can provide the assistance you need. A therapist can provide strategies to help you cope with difficult emotions and can help you work towards long-term mental health wellness. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength and an important step in self-care.

Inclusivity in Love

Valentine’s Day is also an opportunity to advocate for a more inclusive understanding of love. Let’s recognize and validate the diverse experiences of love in our community, including LGBTQ+ relationships, platonic friendships, and self-compassion. Focusing on a more inclusive approach to love can help to reduce the stigma and loneliness that some people might feel on this day. Let’s be sensitive to those who might find Valentine’s Day challenging. Don’t forget to offer your support to friends and family members who may be experiencing loneliness or grief.

This Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to prioritize our mental health wellness and spread love and support to those around us. Whether you’re celebrating with a partner, a friend or enjoying some time alone, remember that self-love and mental wellbeing are the most important for a fulfilling and healthy life.

Wishing you all a Valentine’s Day filled with love, compassion, and a renewed commitment to mental health wellness and self-love.

-Elena Santellan, Penny Lane Centers