How to Look After Your Mental Health This Valentine’s Day

A couple wearing masks are in tehe centre of the pages with flowers between them. They are surrounded by images of a girl in a bathrobe reading, a pink dildo, a heart shaped box of chocolates, roses, a cocktail and a gay couple on a video call
Illustrations by Rahima Bhatti, @rahima.creative on Instagram

Valentine’s Day is a difficult day for a lot of people. The pressure to be happy and in love can really take a toll on your mental health. Today we wanted to give you some advice for ways to look after yourself, and put you first this Valentine’s Day.

Catarina Vicente’s Advice

As everything else this year, Valentine’s Day will be rough. Couples have nowhere to go, with all shops and restaurants closed, and as social distancing is in place, many might not be able to see each other face to face. If you’re single, spending time online seeing all the happy couples and people celebrating on your social media might not be the best for your mental health. 

As such, it’s important to centre yourself and focus on your mindset – will staying on social media for too long make you feel bad? After recognizing these feelings, plan your day around it – disconnecting and taking a walk, going to ride your bike, or walking around with friends are good ways to get your mind away. Or have a day inside, pampering yourself by ordering a meal, watching movies and buying yourself something nice! 

Despite the quarantine, there are many ways to make this day fun. Whether you’re planning to spend it treating yourself, or would rather ignore it all together, it’s interesting to think about how Valentine’s Day has a subconscious effect on us, and how we can better enjoy it!

Ebony Clent’s Advice

As a single 20-year-old girl, with little energy left for another failed talking stage, this is my advice to anyone who can relate. 

Having spent nearly every Valentine’s Day single, one thing I’ve learnt is that it’s enough to just enjoy your own company. 

So, here’s how I propose you can LOVE YOURSELF this Valentine’s Day:

  1. Go shopping for discounted chocolate! Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to have a cheat day. 
  2. Create a self-empowering Spotify playlist. For the ultimate mood-boost, I recommend including hits from female artists who are the embodiment of girl-power and independence. (Disney songs are also a go-to if you’re needing an uplifting sing-along).
  3. Treat yourself to some lingerie (even if you have no-one to wear it for!) Who says we need to dress to impress someone? If you’re going to feel sad, at least feel sad feeling like a 10/10!
  4. If you drink alcohol, get yourself a bottle of wine and relax. Having a tipsy dance and sing-along is a fun way to uplift your mood. (Just don’t over-do it!).
  5. Why not treat yourself to a takeaway? Receiving your order from your delivery driver is like being gifted with a parcel of happiness.
  6. Choose a film and start a movie night. If you’re a chick-flick lover like myself, I recommend a chick-flick binge! Who needs Netflix and chill when you can find peace in enjoying your own company? 

Finally, enjoy!

Remember to prioritise you this Valentine’s Day.

Craig Strachan’s Advice

As a guy, the lonely Valentines posts and images you usually see never seem to be framed towards me. And it’s a self-cultivated thing. As guys, we like to pretend Valentines alone won’t affect us in the slightest. It’s not true of course. Behind our ‘I couldn’t care less about the 14th’ reflex response I’d bet many like me are wishing we had plans. The number of ‘lads’ who’d die for a nice chat and a bottle of prosecco would probably surprise you. Even if they wouldn’t admit it.

My way of dealing with the mid-February mental health low is simple. Be busy. And that isn’t me saying bottle up your emotions and never speak of them. For me that means messaging a fellow single mate, admitting you’re both going to be bored crazy and going for a walk. Previous years, I’ve gone for meals with friends on Valentines. Because realistically there’s no real reason why you can’t do some of those Rom-Com style things taking out the romance and adding in a competition to see who can spot the most couples that clearly want to have a fight but are too scared to do it in public.

So yeah, be busy and take the mick out of yourself with a good mate. 

Maja Metera’s Advice

I call Valentine’s Day by a different name – Day of the Mentally Ill. It’s not because I think that if you fall in love, you most definitely are bonkers. I was once told that St. Valentine is a patron of those of us struggling with mental health as well. I checked it now and that’s apparently not true. But it doesn’t mean we should use this time to invest in the most important relationship in our lives – in ourselves.

In the rush of making heart-shaped cookies, sending cards and probably shaving to look like a new-born baby, we tend to put aside our needs. I have caught myself in this weird trance – thinking what I should do, what is expected of me for this one day so that I can call myself a good girlfriend. And let me tell you – it does not feel right. So I asked myself – do I even want to shave my legs? Do I have money to spend without freaking out I’m broke later?

With a pandemic going on, our mental health is fragile as it is – let’s not add societal expectations on top of the list of things to worry about. This year, I consider my intentions and motivations before acting on them. I assure you that you will discover how ridiculous most of “musts” sound in your situation. And you will feel more free than ever. Cause in my case – my (feminist and body-positive) boyfriend is not even in the same country as me. So should body hair really matter this much?

Rahima Bhatti’s Advice

We live in a culture where the expectations to be romantically involved flourish, especially during Valentines, without the sincere encouragement of the pure bliss that can be experienced in your own company. And not to say you can’t have that relationship with yourself while also being in a relationship! That’s probably the key to having a healthy connection with another person. But we need to learn how we need to be loved, so we can show other people how to love us properly. Maybe this day could instead act as a reminder to take the steps to become the love of your own life, by giving all that lovin’, time and energy to yourself. 

If you don’t do anything else this valentines day, take the love languages quiz and find out what makes your heart warm. If you have a partner, share your results and do something fun that involves your languages. If you’re in a relationship with yourself, apply it to you! For example, if you learn that your main love language is physical touch, get a warm blanket, use a face mask, or your vibrator, anything sensory that will make your skin feel good. Or if your love language is receiving gifts, treat yourself! A personal favourite is browsing for unique and artsy vases for the flowers that I’ll buy myself. 

Valentine’s Day can be lovely when you have somebody to share it with, but don’t forget that you can also share this day with yourself. Whether that be cooking yourself some good food, writing yourself love letters, or making yourself feel good (you know exactly what I mean).

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