10 Hot Tips for Surviving (and Enjoying) Being Single on Valentine’s Day

Pink rose in the shape of a heart to represent Keeping Love Alive relationship workshop

If you are recently divorced, not in a significant love relationship, or have been single for a while, Valentine’s Day may bring up feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and feelings of self-doubt.

If this is your experience, you are certainly not alone. Honoring these feelings and avoiding activities that trigger them is important. The good news is there is another way to look at this day dedicated to love that can give you a whole new perspective.

Here are some tips for enjoying Valentine’s Day as a single person:

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others who are coupled up. Just because a couple is out celebrating doesn’t mean they are experiencing the “bliss” of romance on Valentine’s Day. They may be experiencing as much disappointment as you for different reasons.
  1. Catch up on past friendships. Go out with a friend of your choice, commiserate, eat, drink, and do whatever you want.
  1. This year, you get to dress for yourself. Wear your most outrageous or most casual outfit.
  1. Have a party with other singles or look for community gatherings. There are many activities listed in the newspaper and online.
  1. Take a dance lesson or go dancing. It’s a great way to meet others, revive your mind and body, get in touch with your sensuality, and just have fun.
  1. Honor your own feelings in ways others may not have. Let yourself feel however you do and not have to justify them to anyone.
  1. Stay home and watch a great DVD of your choice without having to check to see if someone else likes or has seen it.
  1. Get out of your head and into your heart by volunteering. There is a huge drop off in volunteers, but not of those in need, after the holidays. Soup kitchens and other organizations still need your help.
  1. Devote the time, caring, and money you might otherwise spend on someone else on yourself. Buy yourself gourmet chocolates of your choice, get a massage, take a bubble bath, go for a walk in nature, or go to the coast alone or with a friend, whichever makes you feel good.
  1. Rediscover and spend the day with the hottest, smartest, and most interesting person you know—you!

See Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends for details on my support group.

The Physiology of Belly Breathing

Physiology of Belly Breathing

How Diaphragmatic Breathing Activates Our Relaxation System

Why “belly” breathing calms us down and keeps our brain from being emotionally reactive:

Research has shown that just 20 minutes of diaphragmatic breathing is all that’s needed to activate and oxygenate the mindful and thinking part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex).

  1. A belly breath causes the lungs to press on the diaphragmatic wall.
  1. The diaphragmatic wall pushes down on the abdominal cavity (like a balloon being squeezed).
  1. The squeezed abdomen spreads outward in the front of the abdomen and the back where it presses on the spine.
  1. This causes the abdominal cavity to put pressure on the longest cranial nerve, the vagus nerve, which runs all the way downs from the brain stem and the spine.
  1. When pressed on, the vagus nerve quiets down and turns on the body’s relaxation system and regulates the parasympathetic nervous system (in contrast to the instant gratification nerve).

What happens when the vagus nerve gets quieted down:

  1. Blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration become lower.
  1. Lactate (which increases feelings of anxiety) gets cleansed from the blood.
  1. Alpha brain waves (calm and alert) are increased.
  1. The neurotransmitter serotonin is released, gets into the bloodstream and up to the brain in about 20–30 seconds. About 95 percent of this feel-good neurotransmitter is stored in the stomach lining and intestines (our gut).

No wonder breathing blocks reactivity and unhealthy emotions, helps you feel better, and think more clearly!

Thanks to Donald Altman, author of The Mindfulness Toolbook for these tools.

Self-Esteem Inventory: How I Feel About Myself

Self-Esteem InventoryHow you feel about yourself impacts your ability to have healthy, happy relationships with your children, partners, family, coworkers, and practically every person in your life. Strong negative self-talk can create internal stress. Take an honest inventory of yourself. People who feel good about themselves can say “yes” to many, not necessarily all, of these. Notice what is already working for you and areas you would like to improve. Making a commitment to yourself to improve can begin the process of your becoming more empowered and more internally relaxed.

  1. I am willing to work hard to improve my self-concept.
  1. I want to improve my self-concept even though I know it will change many aspects of my life.
  1. I like being the person I am.
  1. I feel I am an attractive person.
  1. I like my body.
  1. I feel attractive and sexually desirable.
  1. I feel confident most of the time.
  1. I know and understand myself.
  1. I feel good being a man/woman.
  1. I no longer feel like a failure because my love relationship ended.
  1. I feel capable of building deep and meaningful relationships.
  1. I am the type of person I would like to have as a friend.
  1. I feel what I have to say is important to others.
  1. I feel I have an identity of my own.
  1. I have hope and faith that I can improve my self-concept.
  1. I am confident I can solve the problems facing me.
  1. I am confident I can adjust to this crisis.
  1. I can listen to criticism without becoming angry and defensive.