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February 10, 2023

Valentine’s Day: The Holiday that Ruins Mental Health.

 

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February is the month of love.

An Ayurveda teacher once shared that chocolate sales amongst single women in New York City skyrocket by 80 percent around Valentine’s Day.

I read somewhere that chocolate has been considered an aphrodisiac food since the time of Aztecs. It inflames desires.

How and why does one holiday in between make or break a person?

Truth is that between media and relationship stereotype portrayals, February 14th feels like doomsday for single people. That one day when everything you have achieved, who you are as a human being, and the value you bring to this world becomes invisible and becomes null if you don’t have someone doting on you romantically. Heart-shaped balloons, heart-shaped candy, teddy bears, and red roses are hard to overlook.

Valentine’s Day can trigger anxiety and loneliness for even those in relationships. We assume that because a couple is together, they are happy and that means curating an evening of gifts, expensive dinners, flowers, and so on.

A now divorced friend had a panic attack when his then wife shared her list of demands and expectations for Valentine’s Day, which were way over his budget. But he feared disappointing her, so he maxed his credit cards over one grand gesture. They divorced within a year of these extravagant celebrations. Instead of confining his love to inauthentic gestures and taking on the pressure, what would have happened if he had communicated his truth to his wife?

My husband and I don’t believe in celebrating this holiday that exploits people’s vulnerabilities. Sure, we might order take out if we are both tired and want to pamper ourselves. Self-love is key here! I believe love is more nuanced than overindulgence and extravaganza on that one day while comparing yourself to others. Working on your own self every day and your relationship 365 days of the year is love. Being there for your partner on difficult days is love. Repairing relationships, building deep trust, growing past mistakes, showing up for each other, remaining friends, and expressing subtle romantic gestures is all love. And that can be possible if you know and love yourself fully.

I did my undergraduate degree in India. When I was in college, Valentine’s Day had a moniker: Rose Day. It was all about which girl received the maximum number of red roses from boys. More roses equaled more popularity, which meant more love. Saying a no to strange boys and their flower acceptance requests wasn’t even an option. At an early age, girls and women started to gauge their worth from other people’s perspectives. As we grew older, many of my peers had developed a constant need for validation, people pleasing, and bending backwards to accommodate the most ridiculous human beings or requests. Because neither did they know that saying a no was an option nor did they understand how Valentine’s Day was another way for the patriarchy to mess with women’s mental and emotional health.

Be it Rose Day in India or Chocolate Overconsumption Day in the United States, Valentine’s Day is hurting more than healing humans. You are either left out (single people) or hit with impossible expectations (those in relationships) on this holiday. While some couples might enjoy it; for others, it is a source of anxiety caused by societal expectations.

Valentine’s Day is a capitalistic holiday that expects you to shell out hundreds of dollars because someone decided love means mindless consumption and over-the-top spending. Can you honestly tell me that pictures of happy couples flooding your social media page on Valentine’s Day doesn’t make you pause and question the quality of your own? You don’t really know what’s going on in someone else’s life but curated social media content about seemingly perfect relationships and romantic celebrations can shake up even the strongest of couples. This is when we know that no one can tell others when, where, and how to celebrate love.

This Valentine’s Day, I ask you: do you truly love yourself? Every inch, ounce, and cell? Do you know who you are—not how others perceive you? This February, can you learn to love yourself a little bit more? Show yourself compassion when you make a mistake or fall off the wagon. Listen to your gut instincts about people. Love yourself just the way you are.

As Robert Morley once said, “To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.”

~

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