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Single on Valentine's Day

By Daisy Whitney

Unless you are contentedly enjoying a long-term committed relationship or are blissfully deep in the
throes of new love, Valentine's Day probably doesn't rate high for you. That's because it can underscore a single person's aloneness, says Dr. William Merkel, psychologist and author. 

"It can be a magnet for disappointment. You can feel like a freak, outside the norm, outside the culture," he says.

Valentine's Day can be particularly tough in you are divorced or mourning a bad relationship. It's completely normal to feel depressed on a day that emphasizes romance and relationships, says Dr. Lane Neubauer, director of Health Services at La Salle University in Philadelphia.

Don't ignore those feelings, she says. Instead, identify what you are feeling and face them so you can work through them.

"This is the time to be kind to oneself. Surround yourself with supportive friends who you can talk openly with about what you are feeling," she says. 'Treat yourself to something you've been wanting for a long time."

Best of all, remember Valentine's Day is only 24 hours long and the next day is a whole new normal day.

But before you can get to Feb. 15, you'll need to make it through Feb. 14. To help you along, we've assembled strategies for surviving another Valentine's Day solo. Here are the 'best of" tips compiled from Dr. Neubauer, Dr. Merkel, life coach and author John Seeley, and Dr. Ian Cook at UCLA.

  • Try not to be alone. Call friends and rent an adventure movie, go bowling or visit a museum. Avoid romantic restaurants and sentimental movies.
  • Try to be honest with yourself. It's better to be alone than in a bad relationship that you maintain in order to avoid being alone on Valentine's Day.
  • If you are a single parent, don't ask your kids to be your sweethearts. Ask your child what would make this Valentine's Day special. Listen to the answer without trying to change it. Then eat that sundae for dinner, watch a favorite movie for the 15th time, make monkey noises, cuddle past bedtime.
  • Steer clear of radio stations with sappy love songs and tune into news, talk shows, or classical music. 
  • Get a great non-romantic book to get lost in. Read without interruptions.
  • Avoid activities aimed at singles. You will be preoccupied with the hidden purpose of being there, which is to find a match.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen, cheer up patients in a hospital or deliver food to shut-ins.
  • Plan a vacation, such as a group trip you'll enjoy, like scuba diving, biking or antiquing.
  • Get more active in a church or local community.
  • See a professional therapist to help you to work through any issues that may be keeping you from experiencing the happiness you desire.
  • Exercise: It improves mood for many people
  • Avoid excessive drinking since alcohol can increase feelings of depression
  • Get enough rest
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