For many people, St. Valentine’s day can bring a lot of mixed emotions ranging from excitement and happiness, to loneliness and depression. Relationships are like food, they can provide us with essential benefits to our health or cause discomfort and harm. Like food and water, we need nurturing and supportive relationships to not only survive but flourish. Previous research conducted on human development confirm human beings have a fundamental need for inclusion in group life as well as for close relationships. Consider this, most of us perform better physically, emotionally, academically, vocationally, etc., when we are supported through our interests and pursuits. Not surprisingly, we tend to stay on task, remain motivated to pursue our dreams, and overcome challenges when we are supported.
Unfortunately, when we lack love and social support we are more likely to become disheartened when we are confronted with adversity and challenges. Without support we are more likely to deteriorate both mentally and physically. For those of us that are alone on Valentine’s day it is natural to experience feelings of loneliness and isolation. Valentine’s day for a lot of people is consider a day filled with “love” and ‘romance”, however, when you are alone, negative feelings and emotions can arise. Feeling of loneliness and isolation can influence our mood, have a negative impact on both our brain and body, and lead to depressive feelings. The effects of loneliness and lack of social support can be measured over time, so that unmet social needs take a serious toll on health, emotional/psychological functioning, cognition, and memory.
Lack of close relationships can increase emotional discomfort or distress creating feelings of loneliness. Loneliness begins with the awareness of a deficiency of quality relationships. Despite the negative effects of loneliness, it can hardly be considered abnormal, it is normal to experience feelings of loneliness from time to time. Everyone feels lonely sometimes—after a break-up with a friend or lover, when we move to a new place, when we are excluded from some social gathering, etc.
However, chronic isolation and feelings of loneliness is entirely different from being alone. It is one of the surest markers in existence for maladjustment. Chronic feelings of loneliness in children can lead to social awkwardness, challenges with establishing and building a relationship with others, higher school dropout rates, etc. In adults, loneliness is a major precipitant of depression and alcoholism.
Helpful Tips to Alleviate Feelings of Loneliness on Valentine’s Day Include:
· Understand loneliness is a temporary state, it is a feeling that is triggered by memory, loss, lack of connection, etc.
· Get involved and participate in social activities
· Reach out to others
· Change up your routine, try something new
· Volunteer your time to organizations that service people in need
· If you do not have a romantic partner spend time with good friends
· Strengthen existing relationships
· Join a class or group
· Get a pet or foster an animal that would truly benefit from your love and attention
Loneliness and depressive symptoms can act in a synergistic effect to diminish well-being, meaning the increased negative feelings making symptoms more pronounced Some forms of therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, can help you to change your thoughts as well as your actions to help you not only experience decreased feelings of loneliness, but develop coping skills to reduce or prevent loneliness.