Whether you love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day seems to grow bigger each year, with more and more marketing dollars getting spent on it and an ever-increasing number of V-day-related events sprouting up on social media (“Galentine’s day,” anyone?).
But when you’re in the midst of the divorce process, it’s a holiday that can be particularly triggering. After all, who’s excited to celebrate a day that’s all about love when their own love life is falling apart around them?
So if you’re getting divorced and struggling to deal with Valentine’s Day, here are 7 practical tips (A through G) you can arm yourself with to get through it.
1. Accept your emotions
Try to be accepting of the emotions you’re feeling, as opposed to resisting or suppressing them. It’s completely normal for you to feel triggered (or even downright awful) in response to Valentine’s Day – a holiday that’s dedicated to love and romance – when you’re in the midst of a divorce.
And although the idea of sitting with those feelings may sound understandably unappealing, you should know that any emotional discomfort you’re experiencing in response to this day will likely continue to crop up for you until you allow yourself to fully face it.
Instead of bottling it all up, attempt to breathe into the difficult emotions you’re feeling and be compassionate with yourself. You’re grieving the loss of your partner and your marriage, and that’s unfortunately a process that can’t be rushed.
Know that things will eventually get easier with time and take solace in the fact that Valentine’s Day only comes once a year.
2. Be positive
Although, on its surface, this might seem to conflict with what I just said in tip #1 about not suppressing your negative emotions, regardless of however you’re feeling surrounding your divorce, you can always choose to recognize and acknowledge anything positive in your life.
In case you’re skeptical, here’s a fairly painless way to cultivate a positivity practice:
At the end of each day before going to bed, grab a notepad and list 3 great things that happened that day from your perspective. These items can be significant or insignificant in nature. What they are isn’t as important as is the simple act of recognizing them.
If you make this exercise a consistent practice, you will gradually train your brain to look for and focus on positives more regularly. And the more frequently you focus on and anticipate positive things happening in your life, the more easily you’ll be able to recognize and appreciate them each time they arise.
3. Comparison = catastrophic
Comparison is the source of so much of our unhappiness. And with the proliferation of social media, we tend to engage in it more than ever before. Perhaps the worst part about our tendency to compare when it comes to social media is the fact that the posts we’re viewing are often airbrushed, carefully curated, and don’t accurately reflect reality.
Try not to fall into the comparison trap, especially when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Seeing how others (and, in particular, your soon-to-be-ex-spouse) are choosing to celebrate it is likely to make you feel worse, not better.
This tip applies more broadly as well: I would recommend that you don’t compare your divorce process to anyone else’s. Each person’s story and experience is unique, and there’s no right or wrong way to navigate divorce.
I’d encourage you to instead turn your focus inward and go do something wonderful for yourself, like attending a wellness retreat, escaping out into nature, curling up in a cozy nook and reading You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, getting a massage, or treating yourself to a flotation therapy session in a sensory deprivation tank.
Do whatever you need to do to avoid engaging in comparison – which might mean staying off of Facebook and Instagram for a couple of days (or at least blocking your ex).
4. Defend your self-esteem
In general, when we have low self-esteem, it signals that we are looking to external factors (i.e., other people) for validation and acceptance and then using it to judge our own self-worth. In contrast, when we have high self-esteem, we look internally for the validation and acceptance we need.
It’s important to recognize that Valentine’s Day can be an assault on our self-esteem. The marketing messages surrounding the holiday are meant to make us feel a sense of lacking, of wanting, and of insufficiency…precisely so we crave whatever it is that the advertisers are trying to sell us.
As a result, at this time of year, you may need to take an especially active role in protecting, maintaining, or even striving to improve your self-esteem.
And this is even more so the case if you’re going through a divorce. Why? Because when you’re navigating the divorce process, your self-esteem is often already in a delicate state.
Many of us experience feelings of shame or embarrassment around our marriages falling apart, even if what happened wasn’t our fault or what we wanted. We look around us at our society, our friends, our family or loved ones and feel ashamed that we couldn’t make our marriage work. We have the sense that we’ve somehow failed.
The good news is, if you’re struggling with feelings like these, there are ways to make your self-esteem more robust so you’re better equipped to brave the V-day battleground.
Physical exercise can be a great tool to leverage during this difficult period of your life.
You don’t need to do anything extreme like sign up for the next Tough Mudder, but studies have shown that moving your body can be beneficial for your mental as well as your physical well-being. Even something as simple as just going for a long walk or taking a yoga class can prove to be meditative and help reduce your anxiety and stress levels.
I personally found running to be incredibly therapeutic for me when I was navigating my own divorce. There was something about taking an hour just for myself, getting outside, and listening to upbeat music while my feet pounded the pavement for an hour that really helped me to process things.
And this doesn’t have to be a solo mission. You could join a recreational kickball league or consider attending a group fitness class where you’ll have the opportunity to connect with others and or even make friends.
Going through the divorce process is pretty miserable at any time of year. But in February, when it’s often dark, gloomy, and cold, it can be exceptionally difficult to avoid slipping into a depressive funk. Incorporating a bit more body movement into your routine during these winter months can be a great way to help boost your mood.
Valentine’s Day often brings up memories for us. We tend to think about our past experiences, previous relationships, and what we once had. We can get caught up in reflecting on the past and find ourselves feeling a sense of wanting or lacking.
To the extent possible, don’t let your thoughts control you. This takes focus, which can be difficult to cultivate if you’re emotional or experiencing high levels of stress.
However, reflecting on the past won’t allow you to heal and won’t enable you to grow. So instead, endeavor to let go and bring your thoughts back to the present moment whenever possible - where you can then do the work you need to do to move on.
Focusing on your breath and practicing deep and steady breathing can help with this. Additionally, if you’re open to mediation, developing a consistent practice can teach you how to continually return your focus to the present moment.
When in the midst of getting divorced, you typically aren’t feeling all that grateful. At least, gratitude wasn’t amongst the top emotions I personally experienced. My mindset was more along the lines of “why is this happening to me?” or “how did things turn out like this?”
Yet, even though it may not come naturally to you at a time when your life as you’ve known it is imploding around you and Valentine’s Day is staring you in the face, concentrating on those things that you’re grateful for can actually be a grounding exercise. Akin to the positivity practice I mentioned above, cultivating a regular habit of expressing gratitude can be very beneficial in retraining your focus and improving your overall happiness.
At either the outset or the end of your day (whichever you prefer), try making a list of 3 things you’re grateful for, happy about, or that you just appreciate. Keep a notepad next to your bed specifically for this purpose to help remind you to engage in this activity each morning or evening. Instill it as a daily habit.
Regularly practicing gratitude will help you redirect your mind toward the positive things in your life so you are more appreciative and able to focus on the things that warrant your attention, as well as better set yourself up to let go of any negative circumstances.
If you’re navigating the divorce process, it may feel like Valentine’s Day couldn’t possibly have come at a worse time. But by following the above tips and incorporating them into your life as you move forward through and even beyond your divorce, you’ll become more resilient than you ever thought possible.
Guest Writer Bio: Kim West is the Founder and CEO of When It’s Knot Forever, a company she built to assist and empower those approaching, going through, or coming out of the divorce process. Kim (JD, MBA) is a Divorce Coach who offers her coaching services nationwide. To learn more, check out her website, or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.
To schedule a free consultation call with Kim, sign up here: https://calendly.com/whenitsknotforever/meeting-w-kim
Check out her free online mini-course on “How to Get Divorced”: https://courses.whenitsknotforever.com/p/how-to-get-divorced
Finally, if you’d like to join a FREE private community for those navigating the divorce process, you can learn more and request access here: