Valentine’s Day is one of those traditions that can feel a bit over-commercialised – it can be fun to get involved in the celebrations of love, but it’s equally valid to opt-out completely. However, if you’re not in a relationship, the hype around Valentine’s Day can trigger feelings of loneliness and perhaps wishing that you weren’t alone.
When everyone around you seems to be making plans on how they’re going to be spending Valentine’s Day, or they’re comparing the bunches of flowers that they’ve received, it can be tough if you don’t have that special someone in your life to share these moments with.
Here’s some of the hints and tips that I use to cope with feeling alone or lonely, or when I’m trying to work through any bouts of loneliness.
What’s making me lonely?
Just because you’re not celebrating Valentine’s Day, or you’re by yourself, that doesn’t means that you’re necessarily alone or lonely. It’s totally fine to enjoy your own company, or take some time out from the people you are close to. However, being by yourself can sometimes lead to feeling isolated and vulnerable.
If you are starting to feel a bit lonely, a good starting point is to try and articulate what you’re feeling and to try and identify what might be triggering your emotions or sense of loneliness. You might be feeling isolated because you’re by yourself and are craving some social interaction. Conversely, you might have people around you but don’t have anyone who you can connect with or who you feel really understands you.
Once you can articulate what’s making you feel lonely, it’s easier to put some steps in place to combat those emotions.
What changes can I make?
The best way to work through any feelings of isolation or loneliness is to put in place some positive actions that change the dynamics of your situation. Whether you need to find ways to generate some social interaction or connect with people who might understand your perspective, you’re not going to do that by sitting at home feeling miserable.
Positive steps that you could take include things like joining a community group, taking a class, volunteering with a charity, or joining a sports club. Even if you’re not feeling confident about meeting people face-to-face, or there’s nothing relevant in your local area, there’s loads of opportunities for online interaction.
Means Happy is part of the Gaydar family, and one of the most popular features on Gaydar is our chatrooms. There’s a huge range of different chatrooms, covering all sorts of subjects and locations. A lot of these are about dating and hooking-up, but quite often it’s just a way to connect with other people and have a conversation. It’s surprising how a bit of online chat can quickly make you feel less alone in the world.
How can I express how I’m feeling?
One of the weird things about loneliness is that even if you’re surrounded by people, you might still feel lonely. Valentine’s Day might be all about expressions of love, but don’t let that hold you back from expressing other emotions.
If you’re not in a relationship, reach out to friends, family, or online contacts. If that’s not possible, try writing about your emotions, or finding another creative outlet so that you’re not bottling everything up inside.
Ignoring your emotions or your feelings doesn’t make them go away, they just tend to resurface at an inconvenient time in a self-destructive way. Give yourself a bit of self-love and explore your emotions.
Why don’t I feel better?
Isolation and loneliness is something that takes hold of us over time, so you can’t expect to just snap out of that emotional state or to instantly feel better just because you’ve taken some steps to address the vulnerability that you’ve identified.
This is a journey of small steps. Set yourself small goals to accomplish each day. If you join a chatroom and don’t immediately find someone to talk to, don’t be discouraged – try a different one tomorrow. If you join a sports club but don’t feel like it’s what you’re looking for, consider a different sport or a different activity. Keep trying new things until you find what works for you.
Why is everyone else so happy?
Social media platforms such as Instagram can be a great way to keep in touch with your friends and to follow other people’s aspirational adventures. But, it’s really important that you’re not comparing yourself to anyone else – especially people on the internet who you’ve never met.
The thing about social media is that most people are presenting the absolute best version of themselves, or the person that they’d like to be. It’s not necessarily what they’re really doing, they don’t always look so happy, they’re not necessarily as romantic or in love as their Instagram posts suggest. Everyone has their highs and lows.
If you find that your social media feed is making you feel more isolated and alone, take a break from it. You’re not going to miss anything if you don’t check Instagram for a few days. Get outside and get some fresh air, go and do something that makes you feel good. Focus on you for a bit.
How am I feeling today?
When you’re feeling lonely, or at an emotional low, things can quickly spiral out of perspective. A good strategy is to regularly check-in with yourself. It might sound a bit pretentious or ridiculous, but it’s easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day that your stress and anxiety might be getting out of control and you don’t realise until it’s too late.
Take a moment and ask yourself – How am I feeling today? Am I at a 10? Or am I somewhere near a 3? Make notes to try and understand what might be influencing or triggering how you’re feeling. Did you sleep well? Have you eaten? Have you had some exercise? Have you reached out to speak with someone? Give yourself a checklist of things to do to help keep your day on track.
Where can I get some help?
Don’t let your isolation become a barrier that prevents you from asking for help. If you’re feeling vulnerable, or if you just need some advice or guidance, there’s lots of organisations and helplines out there who you can access by telephone or online. Just talking to a friend or someone you know can be a big help in staying focused on moving forward and staying connected with the world around you.
Reaching out to other people is a good strategy even if you’re not at a point of crisis. Checking in with your friends and family or online contacts – asking how they are and what they’re up to – helps to keep yourself grounded and focused on what’s important.
Does anyone else feel like this?
It can be really helpful to realise that you’re not the only person who struggles with feeling alone or lonely. There’s lots of blogs and books and podcasts from people talking about their personal experiences, their highs and lows, and how they’ve tried to manage their struggles. Hearing how other people have tackled things can help to give you confidence that you’re on the right track.
Share your story. If you struggle with anxiety or loneliness, what are the tactics that you’ll be using to navigate through the minefield of Valentine’s Day? Sharing what does and doesn’t work for you might help others as well as yourself.