The Heart of Valentine’s Day

What was your Valentine’s Day like? Did it start with breakfast in bed or coming downstairs to a box of heart-shaped chocolates? How about a date night paired with a dozen fresh vibrant red roses in hand? Or, maybe you are reading this going, “I wish!” but thinking, “Nope that definitely was not what my Valentine’s Day looked like.”

Valentine’s Day can be a difficult day for many. Often, people say it reminds them of their loneliness. Though they might periodically give thought to this feeling of loneliness throughout other times of the year, Valentine’s Day just seems to hit in a different way. Some may reflect on previous Valentine’s Days with their partners or family members who are no longer with them. Thinking on past memories may bring them happiness, but it can also lead to sadness if they feel like that person was the only one to ever make them feel cherished on Valentine’s Day.

Not only does Valentine’s Day seem to illuminate loneliness, but many feel like it also highlights singleness. And then comes the comparison trap of wishing that they were in a relationship like everyone they see around them so that they could experience that romantic day that they’ve always dreamed of.

If Valentine’s Day tends to bring about feelings of loneliness or reminders of how single you are, I can guarantee you that you aren’t the only one feeling this way. So, how can you make Valentine’s Day better next year? Well, I think it starts with getting at the heart of Valentine’s Day. What’s the point of this Day anyway if all it does is cause people to feel lonely? 

We celebrate Valentine’s Day to show our love, appreciation, and tenderness for those around us. It doesn’t have to just be toward a romantic partner or family member. We can express our love toward friends, acquaintances, or even strangers! Even better, what if we were to carry this same principle of Valentine’s Day with us as we approach this New Year? What would it look like for you to intentionally seek to love the people who you come into contact with each day? When we are feeling low, oftentimes the best thing we can do is show love to someone else. And, you never know, you might brighten their day! 

Here are some ways that you might consider expressing your love to those around you this year: 

Smile: I acknowledge that this can be hard during the mask wearing season that we are in, but I would encourage you to take any opportunity that you can get to smile at someone. When we smile at others, we initiate a connection with them which can cause both us and that person to feel a sense of belonging. 

Write a letter: This may sound old school, but what happened to sitting down and writing a few sentences to someone that we are thinking about? It could be words of encouragement, a life update, or anything else you want to share.

Picking up groceries: During this time, there are still many people who are stuck inside and in need of assistance with groceries or picking up their prescriptions. This could be a friend or neighbor closeby. You might consider getting on the Nextdoor app to see if you could help someone in this way. 

Volunteering: Check out opportunities to volunteer virtually (or in-person if applicable).

Compliment someone in the moment: What makes us hold back when we are thinking something nice about another person? A compliment might involve an external thing like their shoes, clothes, or even their nail polish; or, maybe it’s a positive trait that they radiate. 

Ask someone how you can serve them: Some of us are timid when it comes to asking for help, so what if you were to ask a friend how you could support them in this time? 

I hope this small list gets you thinking about ways that you can love others around you in 2021 and beyond!

Charly Fulp

Mental Health Student Intern

Learn More