Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital issued the following announcement on Feb. 11.
Do you get depressed on Valentine’s Day? You’re certainly not alone… and it’s not necessarily because you’re alone, either.
While it’s true that Valentine’s Day can trigger depression in people who are single, people in relationships feel it, too. The holiday often brings with it unrealistic expectations that can cause couples to question whether they’re in the right relationship or getting what they want out of it. They might also be feeling the pressure of having to plan a “perfect” evening of fancy dinners, flowers and gifts.
Regardless of relationship status, we should all take a moment this Valentine’s Day to be kind to ourselves. Here are three evidence-based strategies used at the AMITA Health Center for Mental Health that I recommend for dealing with depression on Valentine’s Day:
Rethink Your Thinking
Let’s start with a negative thought many single people have on Valentine’s Day: “I am alone today. This means I am going to be alone for the rest of my life.”
This kind of cognitive distortion happens when we overgeneralize. Because we can’t see the future, it’s easy to presume that things will always be the way they are now.
“Thought reframing” is a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) technique I use to help my patients with depression steer themselves away from these kinds of overgeneralizations. By weighing the evidence for and against your negative perspective, you can reframe your thoughts into something positive — or, at the very least, emotionally neutral.
So let’s get back to that negative thought. One way to reframe it is “I may not be in a relationship right now, but I am not alone. I have my friends, my family, etc.” Another is “I’m single right now, but I still get to look forward to the thrill of meeting someone new.” There are many frames from which to choose, so find one that resonates with you.
Feel Grateful by Being Mindful
Gratitude is one powerful feeling. It can boost your self-esteem, which in turn improves your mood and dispels feelings of depression. Best of all, practicing gratitude in your day-to-day life can be as simple as thanking the barista handing you your morning coffee and holding the door for someone on the way out.
The first step to gratitude is to practice mindfulness. Being mindful means shutting out the mental “noise” and being fully aware of your surroundings. It’s being present in the moment and not thinking about what you have to do today, or what might happen next.
You’ll find many mindfulness exercises online (this 5-minute guided meditation video has helped me on more than a few hectic days). Many of these exercises involve closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing, but if you’d prefer to begin with a more active option, here is my suggestion.
If you’re feeling sad on Valentine’s Day, write a “love letter” to yourself that expresses gratitude for everything in your life that you’re thankful for. Your letter might mention your best friend, your pets, your favorite foods, your health, your memories of a vacation to Hawaii where you got to watch the sun set from the beach. Once you start listing what you’re grateful for, you might find it hard to stop.
Show Yourself Compassion
Compassion for others is hard. Compassion for ourselves is even harder. But getting into the habit of being kinder to yourself can significantly decrease feelings of depression or lack of self-worth.
I find it’s easiest to think of self-compassion as showing yourself the same kindness that you would show your grandma or a child. This means saying nice things about yourself and giving yourself permission to be imperfect and human. It’s the difference between telling yourself “You’re not good enough” and “You’re facing a challenge that is beyond your control and I’m proud that you haven’t given up.”
If you’re in a relationship, it takes both compassion and self-compassion to work through tough times. For example, let’s say your partner comes home from work this Valentine’s Day in a bad mood. You might jump to the conclusion that your partner is mad at you because they don’t like your plans for the evening, you didn’t have time to clean up, etc. This in turn might make you feel angry and defensive, and things can quickly escalate into an argument.
Self-compassion starts here with not blaming yourself for something you didn’t do. Instead, tell yourself “I can't change the fact that something has upset my partner, but that's not on me; what I can do is talk to them about it and work with them on moving past it.” Sit down with your partner and really listen to their thoughts and concerns. By starting from a place of self-compassion, you show compassion for your partner and both of you will feel better having figured things out together.
I hope you find these techniques helpful in shaking off the Valentine’s Day blues. However, if you’re experiencing deep depression, despair or thoughts of hurting yourself or suicide — if you just really need to talk to someone — please call us right away. Help is only a phone call away at 847.952.7460.
Original source can be found here.
Source: Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital