Everywhere you turn you’re reminded that romance is in the air. Lacy lingerie graces your favorite storefront windows, your email inbox is filled with ads for flowers to send that special someone, and paper hearts filled with passionate quotes fill the local bookstore. You can’t even order a latte without an artisanal foam heart on top.
If you’re like many women without a significant other this Valentine’s Day, you may be feeling a little left out of the festivities. Pew Research Center reports that 37 percent of women over 45 are divorced, separated, or widowed. But being single doesn’t have to mean feeling alone.
“Being single in today’s world can be a very fulfilling lifestyle if you’re able to truly embrace it,” says Aviva Gaskill, PhD and clinical psychologist in private practice in Wynnewood, PA.
Whether you’re single and fabulous by choice or you’ve lost your life partner, you can still celebrate Valentine’s Day. The key is to choose to spend the day having fun and celebrating love for all people- including yourself. “The world can use a little extra love these days,” says Dr. Gaskill.
So take time to get dressed up, get out, and celebrate you. Here’s how:
- Spread the love. Spend the day volunteering at your local animal shelter, soup kitchen, or working on a political project you’re passionate about. “Meaningful activities make each day feel like a treasure,” says Susan Heitler, a certified psychologist and author of Prescriptions Without Pills: For Relief from Depression, Anger, Anxiety, and More.
- Spend time with friends. Expanding your friendship group after years of primarily spending time with your spouse can sound daunting. “But your well-being is enhanced by a sense of belonging, whether to family, neighborhood, a book group, tennis team, or dinner club- or all of the above,” advises Dr. Heitler. Invite friends over for a night of wine, appetizers, and games.
- Try something new. Sign up for a cooking class, listen to new music, or go to a poetry reading. Update your look with a new haircut or outfit. “Anything new tends to be an emotional boost,” explains Dr. Heitler.
- Get online. Connecting with others who share common interests is as easy as learning to navigate social media. If you’re looking for a romantic interest, try online dating. If you want to make friends, find a local meetup group. “I believe if you’re internet savvy, the world is your oyster,” says Dr. Gaskill.
- Schedule a spa day. Humans thrive on physical touch and those who live alone may not get as much as they need. Research shows massage therapy can be a powerful tool to help with the aging process. Instead of viewing a spa day as a luxury, try to look at it as necessary self-care.
This year, spend Valentine’s Day doing something that makes you happy. The only thing that’s off limits is sitting home alone. “Do not throw a pity party by eating a box of chocolates, reading a romantic novel, or watching a romantic movie and weeping,” cautions Dr. Gaskill.
After all, life is meant to be lived- and loved.