I’ve written before about the effect that holidays can have on our mental health, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Loneliness, isolation and depression are common feelings this time of year, and even though the causes might be different than other times of the year, those feelings are persistent. Whether you’ve been through a breakup or are frustrated by past disappointments in your love life, the feelings that come up can be very difficult to manage. Managing difficult thoughts and feelings is central to mental wellness, and even though it’s difficult to view it through a mental health lens, addressing these feelings in a healthy and natural way is important for us to heal. It’s also a way that we can properly feel the anger or sadness that we rightfully deserve to feel without letting it derail us on our mental health journeys. Here are a few ways to specifically manage those feelings this Valentine’s Day.
Separating Thoughts from Feelings
Feeling some type of way about romantic relationships is…common, to say the least. Most of us have been there, and we’ve had unpleasant feelings that come from those experiences. But things go from being difficult to impossible to manage when we treat our feelings as rational thoughts we’re having. There’s a difference between feeling pain and hurt, and creating negative thoughts about yourself because of that pain and hurt. If you can catch yourself in that thought process and stop it before it gets too deep, you can find a way to deal with the feelings in a healthier way – and almost any way is healthier than giving in to negative thoughts that aren’t true and can damage your psyche.
Give Your Emotions Time to Pass
This can be a very frustrating bit of advice, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Emotions can get the better of us when we refuse to acknowledge their impact, and giving those emotions enough time to get out of our systems is a difficult, but necessary, process. Problems often come up when people decide that they’re “done with their emotions” and don’t want to feel them anymore. As anyone who’s lived with mental health conditions will tell you, that’s not how emotions work. Even though you might be feeling sad, hurt or angry that these emotions are lingering, I also want to tell you that they will pass with time – it’s just usually more time than you’d prefer.
Knowing When to Seek Help
Early in my mental health journey, one of the most difficult things I had to navigate was recognizing the cause of my feelings and emotions. I assumed my emotions were only in response to what was going on romantically in my life. Now, I can see that while those romantic situations might have been a cause for my emotions, the way I handled it could’ve been healthier if I’d known I was dealing with the same depression and anxiety I’d been carrying around for years. Your feelings are your feelings, and while it’s difficult to understand the difference between a short-term setback and more long-term mental health situations, exploring those feelings will go a long way to managing your emotions in the future.
I know that these tips are much easier said than done, but that’s part of the point – they need to be said. They need to be written down and shared. It’s okay feel like you’ve been knocked down, kicked at, that you’re sad or upset. In fact, it’s natural to feel that way. But managing heartbreak or cynicism for what it is, instead of turning into something more dangerous, is yet another way we can use mental wellness to our advantage.
Do you ever feel down during a holiday? What activities do you do to lift yourself up and show yourself love when you’re feeling this way? Let me know in the comments!