When you are blissfully in love, Valentine’s Day stands out as the perfect opportunity to show that special someone just how much they mean to you.
Jewelry, roses, teddy bears and boxes of chocolates fly off the shelves and into the waiting arms of your sweetheart. Reservations are booked weeks in advance, and you’re almost guaranteed a day of hearts, sugar and sex.
When you’re single, Valentine’s Day exists as a corporate scheme created to remind you of your failed relationships and take your money for heart-shaped, edible terms of endearment. In past years, when you found yourself alone on Valentine’s Day, you might have drunk a bottle of pink wine and watched a marathon of Nicholas Sparks films. Maybe your ex looks like Ryan Gosling, and watching “The Notebook” helps you fantasize that things actually worked out, and he’ll be home any minute to sweep you off your feet. Dreams like that will never be easy to wake up from, no matter who you are .
Some people forgo Valentine’s Day altogether and opt instead to celebrate Singles Awareness Day (SAD). The concept of SAD bears real promise, but the acronym suggests a day less than prideful and much more, well, sad.
This year, rather than ignoring the day of pink and red and pretending that Feb. 14 simply exists to precede Feb. 15, why not try a few activities aimed toward self-appreciation? The ghost of Valentine’s Day past might be haunting you, but you don’t have to sit at home and hide under the covers with the box of chocolates you told your roommate arrived unexpectedly from a secret admirer. Instead, focus on loving yourself.
Here are some alternatives to spending Valentine’s Day in SAD mode.
1. Have a Spa Day
Take the day and pamper yourself. Get your nails done, get a massage and spend the whole time focusing on yourself and attending to your needs. A day full of making yourself feel clean and refreshed ends up being a lot healthier than the alcohol and chocolate-fueled alternative. Plus, the winter weather must have dried out your skin by now and your body will thank you for the hydration of spa treatment.
Spa days for couples can actually be less relaxing, especially when you’re constantly worried about looking sexy during a mud bath. Save yourself the trouble and recognize the impossible when you see it.
Alone time at a full-treatment facility or a simple haircut and color at the salon can be therapeutic. What better way to show yourself how much you care than by sitting through the royal treatment?
2. Go Out with Your Friends
Make no mistake, you have never been and will never be the only lonely heart on Valentine’s Day. Single people should and do band together during this time of year to keep each other warm and to act as platonic surrogates filling the cavities left by all the sugar and heartache. Valentine’s Day can also be your perfect excuse to go out with your single friends.
Couples are out celebrating, so why shouldn’t you get to share a slice of chocolate cake with the person sitting across the booth? Be sure to pick someone just as willing to kiss the lonely V-Day tradition goodbye in favor of more promising tomorrows.
Many restaurants have Valentine’s Day deals and specials that don’t necessarily need to be attended with a significant other. Love is in short supply these days, and it shouldn’t matter where it comes from.
3. Go to a Movie
Going to see a movie at the cinema forces you to put on real clothes and step out into the sunlight. This year, films like “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “A United Kingdom” will be coming out just in time for Valentine’s Day and would be great choices to go see.
You can go alone or with a group of friends. This doesn’t require the love of your life to be by your side. Anyway, most people would rather be free to stare shamelessly at Christian Grey while he puts the moves on Anastasia Steele. Such things can only be seen with people good-humored enough to ignore the intensity of it all.
4. Go Shopping
Pull a “Parks and Rec” Tom and Donna duo, and “treat yourself!” Before you say anything, no one is suggesting you go and blow your bank account on a ridiculous amount of unnecessary and unwearable designer clothing just to fill the void in your heart. The idea is to go and treat yourself to the pair of boots you’ve been eyeing in Nordstrom. You know they would complete your out-on-the-town outfit, and you deserve them.
Maybe your nonexistent significant other would buy them for you on Valentine’s Day, and maybe they wouldn’t. The point is you would, and you will because you know you’re worth it.
Use the money you decided not to spend on flowers for yourself or baby animal-themed Valentine’s Day cards for your coworkers and dorm mates, and head to the mall. Shopping makes you feel good and, like chocolate, is okay in moderation!
5. Be Okay with Binging
Not binge-drinking, but binge-watching. You feel guilty watching six episodes in a row of “Friends” or “How I Met Your Mother” on the average day of the week? Valentine’s Day is special for couples and should be for singles as well.
The idea of “special” can vary from person to person, but when it comes to Feb. 14, the goal should be to achieve happiness, which can come from showering a loved one with gifts and quality time spent together or being able to sit back and watch Netflix guilt-free for an entire evening.
Self-love doesn’t always have to mean doing the healthy and more proactive thing. Sometimes, loving yourself means being okay with taking a day to give your mind a break. You are a student, an employee, a daughter, a son or a friend. Sometimes your many roles can get exhausting. If Valentine’s Day means binging on love, focus on you and reap the benefits. You may just wake up feeling happier and more at peace with your beautiful, free and independent lifestyle.