Single for Valentines Day? Embrace it!

All of my friends and family know that on February 14 I celebrate Singles Awareness Day (also knows as S.A.D.)  Yes, Valentine’s Day is a great day to celebrate your love with someone that you love.  But if you’re single on Valentine’s Day it can be an icky reminder of how lonely you are. February can be one of the toughest times of the year for single folks, even for those who are normally comfortable being single. When you're single, it seems like everyone but you is busy buying roses and making dinner reservations.

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Instead of going out to a glitzy (and often expensive) restaurant and slow-dancing the night away, you may be staring down a TV dinner and X-Files re-run (you know, if you live in the 1990’s like I tend to).  Maybe you got industrious and have a plan to get together with your other single pals for a “Lonely Hearts Club” kind of thing.  However, I challenge you to blow up the holiday in favor of something more empowering.  Being single is a perfect opportunity to learn about yourself outside of a relationship. Skeptical?  How about this: it’s a great time to take an stock of yourself, do some soul searching and work on becoming the YOU you’ve always wanted to be. Being single doesn’t mean you have to grieve.  Get out there and have some fun.

1. Resist the Urge to Wallow in Self-Pity

Feeling lonely is OK so long as it doesn’t convert into self-pity. Allowing yourself to indulge in self-pity can be self-destructive. Don’t let feeling sorry for yourself lead to excessive negative thoughts such as, “I’ll never find anyone,” or “Everyone has somebody, but me.” Aaron Anderson, LMFT writes that “staying home lamenting about being single usually means you have some kind of baggage you’re working through. There’s nothing wrong with being single. It’s not like you’re branded with a scarlet letter or anything.” There’s no good reason to beat yourself up for being single?  “Get yourself out there and force yourself to confront whatever baggage is keeping you from enjoying a fulfilling relationship.”

Rather than dwell on all the reasons you might be unhappy, choose to be grateful for all the good things in your life. Being single ain’t that bad!  Compared with their married people, single folks are more likely to spend time with friends and neighbors, go to restaurants, attend art classes, and lectures. There’s a bunch of research suggesting that single people get out more — and not only the younger ones. Erin Cornwell, a sociologist at Cornell, analyzed results from the General Social Survey (which draws on a nationally representative sample of the United States population) and found that single people 35 and older were more likely than those who lived with a spouse or a romantic partner to spend a social evening with neighbors or friends.  So see, we single people got it going on!

Each time you’re tempted to indulge in self-pity, remind yourself of all you have to be thankful for this year – even if you don’t have a romantic partner. Think of this as s a great opportunity to get to know yourself and work towards personal achievements. Try out new hobbies. Meet new people. Advance your career. Discover things about yourself you never knew.  You may be surprised with what you learn. And soon enough, you’ll be in a relationship with someone important: YOU.  Have faith that your partner-in-crime will show up in good time. 

2. Avoid Romanticizing and Bad Decisions You’ll Regret Later

One of the major dangers of being alone in February is the tendency to dwell on past relationships. Daydreaming about the ‘one that got away,’ or romanticizing past relationships isn’t helpful – and rarely accurate.  When our emotions are raw our memories go a little wonky.  You forget about problems that overwhelmed a relationship and risk idealizing how wonderful things were when you were together.  Reflecting on past relationships and learning from them can be helpful. Focus on what you can do to be at your best, regardless of who you are with.  But be prepared: the anxiety of spending Valentine’s Day alone may tempt you to invite that bad-for-you ex out to dinner. Or you may begin a frantic search to find a date in a desperate attempt to relieve your fears of loneliness. There’s a long list of potentially bad decisions that could result from hasty attempts to avoid being alone on February 14th.  (Do I really need to list them for you? I didn’t think so).  Facing the holiday solo doesn’t necessarily have to lead to reckless behavior. Stay mentally strong and face Valentine’s Day with courage.

 3. Create a Valentine’s Plan

Create a plan for how you can spend Valentine’s Day a little more productively. So instead of going into hiding until Feb. 15 and then scarfing on half-price chocolate (no judgment!) get out there. Find some friends to go out with and do your thing.  If your friends are busy/coupled/hibernating then go out alone and enjoy yourself.  I regularly challenge my more codependent friends and clients to take themselves out on a date. You never know, it might be the best date you’ve had in a while. You could go visit Grandma or your nephews who adore you, have a puppy party at the local animal shelter. Getting out and doing something can serve as an awesome reminder that Valentine’s Day can be what you make of it, regardless of who you’re with.

For one thing, if you’re single, this is an excellent time to remind yourself of your worth. We settle on so often in life — on bad jobs, food we don’t love, people who treat us like crap... Be comfortable and confident in your independence.

#single, #singleonvalentines, #singlesawarenessday, #singlementalhealth, #valentinesdaysucks, #singleandsawesome, #singleonvalentinesday

The Holidays and Mental Health

The holiday season can be a stressful one for most people.  There is so much to do, so  many people to contact, parties to attend... which can leave a person feeling overwhelmed, stressed out,, anxious, angry, or depressed.  This can also be a tough time for anyone who has experienced a major life transition or the loss of a loved one.  

People who experience depression, anxiety and stress over the holidays may think that they should just get over it on their own. Others may need time to recognize how deeply this affects their life. If your holiday depression, anxiety or stress seems severe or is interfering with your job or home life, talk to your doctor, your therapist, or a trusted confidante.  If you'd like some counseling, it might be a good idea to check your health plan before the end of the year so you can use sessions before they expire (many plans run Jan-Dec).

With the help of the Canadian Mental Health Association, here's a list (I've checked it twice) with some of the most common holiday triggers and tips to prevent unnecessary emotional distress. 

Budget 

The holidays can be expensive!  Whether you're buying gifts, eating out, or traveling,  you may get in the habit of reaching for your wallet and overextending yourself.

 

  •  Plan your budget in advance of the holiday season.  
  • Only spend cash or debit.  
  • Host a Secret Santa, or buy one gift for  your group of friends or family.

Family

So you don't get along with your family.  They may use guilt trips or push your buttons (ahem... Uncle Frank) but you may feel obligated to spend time with them.

 

  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
  • Set boundaries with  your family and communicate them.
  • Stay one night at your family's house, not a whole weekend.  Choose one family to visit each holiday instead of trying to see and please everyone.  
  • Visiting friends?  Stay for a couple hours instead of the whole day.

Overindulging

During the winter months, our activity levels drop off and there's many opportunities to eat amazing holiday treats and booze it up, which can cause feelings of guilt or shame.

 

  • When planning your holiday schedule, include chances for exercise and activity.
  • Consider laying off the sauce.  Before a social event, plan in advance what and how much  you'll drink.
  • Be gentle with yourself and understand that your goal is to limit consumption or inactivity, not eliminate it entirely.

Taking on too much

Maybe you over-committed or have unrealistic expectations during the holidays.   

 

 

  • Pace yourself.  The holidays can be a 6 week marathon, so try not to take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
  • Cut out the things that aren't truly important.
  • Make a list and prioritize the important activities.
  • Decide on your limits and stick to them.
  • Let others share responsibility for holiday tasks.

Loneliness & Isolation

Loneliness and isolation can really suck for some folks during the holidays.  This is especially true for people who recently lost a loved one, or are newly single.

 

  • Pick up a winter hobby, or join a group.  This will give you planned interactions.
  • Volunteer with a local non-profit.  It is humbling and rewarding and you may just make some new friends.
  • Keep on the lookout for fun holiday activities happening in your community.
  • If you know that you have a tough time during this season, tell people to check up on you.

Loss

The holidays can be a tough reminder of the loss of a loved one or former relationship.

 

 

  • Acknowledge that this holiday season won't be the same.
  • This is an opportunity to create new traditions as a way to honor a loved one.  Do things differently as a way to avoid some of the more difficult holiday reminders.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people who understand what you are experiencing.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in the season.  The symptoms include irritability, trouble concentrating, insomnia, aches and pains, depression, overeating, lethargy, and decreased interest in activities.

  • Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy, and medication.

  • Speak with a mental health professional about treatment options in your community.

Year-End Reflection

As the year comes to a close, many of us reflect on what has changed or stayed the same.  Take stock of things that are clicking along in a good way, or the things you've accomplished this year.  When we only look at our mistakes or things we're lacking we forget to be grateful for what we do have.

  • Give yourself credit.
  • Look to the future with optimism.
  • Don't set New Year's resolutions as they put unnecessary pressure on you.  If you'd like to make a resolution to change something, start today!
#holidayfatigue, #mentalhealthholidays, #christmascrazy, #holidayhealth, #mentalhealth, #holidayblues

#holidayfatigue, #mentalhealthholidays, #christmascrazy, #holidayhealth#mentalhealth, #holidayblues

Managing Post-Election Fatigue

Whether a Democrat, Republican, Independent or undecided voter, the 2016 election season stressed people out. The American Psychological Association reported back in October that 52 percent of adults said that the election season had served as at least a large or significant source of stress. (Courtesy APA)

Dr. Seth Norrholm, PhD suggests these effective strategies that you can use as you process your post-election fatigue:

(1) DO Keep up with your daily activities, routines, hobbies, and social plans

Acute, sudden onset of sadness and depression can lead to a state of withdrawal and avoidance of daily life and this has the danger of spinning into a dangerous vicious cycle. So that means get on your bike, put on your running shoes, go for a long walk with your dog – all of these activities will help you feel better and reinforce your sense that life will go on.

(2) DO NOT give in to the urge to debate the election results with friends, relatives, or co-workers

This will only prolong and potentially worsen your feelings of anger and frustration and possibly lead you into the vicious cycle previously mentioned.

(3) DO stick to your core values and cherish the things that you hold dear

If you are feeling angry, sad, frustrated, and without focus, channel that energy to something productive and focus on things that are important to you like your family, your holiday traditions, your social groups, and your emotional support system. If you were an activist for the Democratic side, keep up with these activities. Continue to work toward change by working in the communities, reaching out to those in need, spreading information about causes for which you are passionate.

(4) DO act as a role model for your children, your students, your neighbors and your friends

These emotions feel very raw today and that is part of the healthy recovery process from what you have experienced. Yet do your best to keep in mind that others are watching and you will ultimately feel better with positive interaction with friends and family. This is not the time to go on a Twitter rant or vandalize the neighbors car. These activities are unproductive and will make you feel worse in the long run.

(5) DO remember that our forefathers established a three part governmental system with checks and balances

Do not be acutely afraid that sweeping, radical change will occur as of January 20, 2017.  Don't let your feelings snowball out of control (this is also called catastrophizing). Keep an even perspective and remember that there are millions watching and hundreds in place to monitor how the next administration operates.

Lastly, breathe – and be mindful of your reactions. Take a few minutes to process your feelings and then make a promise to yourself to move on with your life in a productive, meaningful fashion.

#electionfatigue#postelectionfear#electionfrustration#postelectionfatigue#mentalhealth

Movember

The Movember Foundation does an excellent job highlighting the need for men to consider their mental health as a means of suicide prevention.  Take a look:

"Things happen in life, like difficulties with work or finances, the breakdown of a relationship, overwhelming family responsibilities, or a significant setback. These challenges can take a serious toll on your mental health, if left unchecked. Many men tough it out and struggle alone.

Establishing and maintaining relationships, talking about the hard stuff in life and taking action when times are tough are proven ways for men stay mentally healthy and cope with the stress of everyday life. Good overall health and wellbeing is linked to not only to better mental health but also reduces the likelihood of suicide.

Some signs of poor mental health include feeling irritable, hopeless or worthless and behaviors such as aggression, drinking more than usual and isolating yourself from friends and family."

https://us.movember.com/mens-health/mental-health

#movember#movemberfoundation#menssuicide#moustachepower#menshealth#mentalhealth#mensmentalhealth

Nature, prescription strength!

There's something important about unplugging and getting out in nature that is essential in reducing anxiety and stress.  Nature RX is a grassroots movement dedicated to entertaining and informing people about the healing and humorous aspects of nature.  This spoof commercial is pretty funny, and also insightful and inspiring.  Take a look.

#mentalhealth#anxiety#stress#nature, #stressrelief