Love and loneliness - All Saints Day. An article by Chireal Shallow, Consultant Psychologist

 

  

This historical and annual celebration of love, friendships and romance known by many names has become fixed in our call sets to be acknowledge on 14th of February. Some look towards the middle of February with excitement and enthusiasm. The anticipation of a romantic meal, cute presents, the declaration of love and maybe, just maybe, the long-awaited proposal. 

However, February 14th isn’t always a time of positivity, fuelled with love as you might expect. Some people dread this time not because they are killjoys or party poopers, but because of loneliness; because of the loss of love, lack of love and the limited availability of close friendships.

For those individuals, Valentine’s Day represents something entirely different. It’s a stark reminder that they don’t have that special person in their lives anymore. For them it is a time of reflection; a time where they may focus on their isolation and loneliness and this can have a huge impact on their psychological wellness. Is this you? Can you relate or know someone this applies to?  Interestingly our brains can have a way of making us feel like we are the only people alone or without a partner on All Saints Day when in fact the reality is that there at 15 million people who are single in the UK at present. Yet the despair and feelings of low mood can make us internalise our experience and focus on our own feelings of being without rather than focussing externally and finding the evidence that refutes this mind muddle. 

We also must remember that being alone in itself it not a mental health problem, there are many individuals who choose to be alone and being alone for them gives them great peace and satisfaction. Being with oneself and enjoying one’s own company is a far cry from those who find this time of year especially hard and do not wish to be alone and those who struggle with anxiety and low mood.

The huge emphasis on Valentine's Day love can feel so intense that not only do you feel lonely on this day, but you may also feel left out. So, what can you do to combat the thought that this massive amount of love and desire seems to be universally happening for everyone else but you. So, do you have to be lonely at this time of year? Are there things you can do to overcome loneliness and the low mood that may accompany it at this time?

  • Be kind to yourself: learn to love you. Treat yourself like the friends you would want. Do something special for yourself, buy yourself a gift, take yourself out for a date. Learn to be good to you.
  • Find a pet, hug an animal or go for a dog walk. Animals are a good source of happy feelings. If you don’t have a pet of your own, go to a farm or an animal sanctuary and use this interaction as a good way to keep the blues away and feel connected with something that is  just so very happy for you to be there and gives unconditional affection and warmth.
  • Find a hobby. Think about what you enjoy doing and do more of it. Whether its sports, language or a walking club, get involved in what you enjoy and find out what is available in your local community
  • Reach out to friends. Valentine’s Day is about friendships not just about romance. Make Valentines your own and send cards to all those people who hold a special place in your heart.