February 11, 2019
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Nanditha Krishnamsetty, M.D. contributes to topics such as Psychiatry.
People seem to have a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. When in a romantic relationship, it can be a wonderful time to convey your affection. But when you’re single, the holiday tends to leave many feeling downright sad.
Want to survive the holiday without sinking into a depression? Nanditha Krishnamsetty, M.D., a psychiatrist with Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group, shares a few tips to avoid the Valentine’s Day blues.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT’S COMING
“Valentine’s Day is kind of hyped up a lot,” Krishnamsetty said. People are making romantic getaway plans and pairing off. If you are single and don’t want to be, the day—and the weeks leading up to it—can produce a lot of anxiety and frustration. You may be perfectly content in your single life, but the day can still be upsetting.
Social media may make it worse, too. Reading about all the “fun” can create a breeding ground for comparing your situation to others. If you know you are prone to comparing yourself, you may want to stay away from Instagram or Facebook.
SHIFT YOUR FOCUS
Valentine’s Day is all about love, but remember that it doesn’t have to be solely about romantic relationships. Focus on the love you have for friends, pets or family members.
“It doesn’t have to be romantic,” she added.
The holiday can be especially hard on widows, or anyone who has lost someone special to them. That’s why being able to shift your focus to something enjoyable can be beneficial.
“Do something that you think is fun, you can buy flowers or go to the spa, or plan to spend a special evening with close friends or family,” Krishnamsetty said.
Regardless of how you feel about the holiday—even if you are blissfully in love—don’t let your happiness hinge on waiting for someone else to make it a great day. If you want to treat yourself to something, that’s okay. You may also choose not to buy into the hype, which is alright as well.
Lowering your expectations can help you keep things in perspective. You just need to know yourself. For instance, if you are sensitive and you know the holiday may be upsetting, make a plan in advance to keep your spirits lifted.
FEEL THE FEELINGS
However you prepare to avoid the blues, understand that it can happen—and it’s common around Valentine’s Day. Because the holiday is about love, it can trigger other losses even for those in a romantic relationship.
“If you’re feeling lonely, it may be just a few days and you’re back into your routine,” Krishnamsetty said. But if it’s something more and symptoms seem to last for more than two weeks, you may want to see a therapist. Symptoms of depression include thoughts of guilt and hopelessness, loss of interest in once-enjoyable activities, feeling sad, anxious or tired, changes in sleep or appetite, inability to focus or experiencing suicidal thoughts. If you are having thoughts of self-harm, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
Some people turn to self-medicating or using drug and alcohol to numb their pain.
“It makes everything worse,” she said.
Finally, remember that Valentine’s Day is about love in all its forms, Krishnamsetty added. When you learn to love and accept yourself first—regardless of relationships or losses—you may find it easier to stay positive and enjoy what the day may bring.
Nanditha Krishnamsetty, M.D., practices psychiatry at Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, NJ. To make an appointment, call 732-360-4077. To find a psychiatrist near you, visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.