At its best, Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the people we love and cherish in our lives, including friends, family members and partners, not just an excuse for cute greeting cards, red roses and romantic stories.
Unfortunately, all too often our experience of Valentine’s Day does not live up to these ideals. Social pressures often trigger emotional challenges for people whose relationships may not fit traditional ideas of romantic love, for people who have lost a partner or for people who are single. For anyone who is new to recovery, the expectations placed upon this holiday can pose challenges for their well-being.
Let’s look at some ways to manage Valentine’s Day in a healthier, more respectful way.
Be Mindful of Eating Disorders
If you or a loved one struggle with an eating disorder or other food-related challenges, Valentine’s Day can pose a risk to your health. The pressure to purchase and share sweets and chocolates, indulge in elaborate meals or meet certain beauty standards are all common triggers for eating disorder relapse.
Managing your eating disorder recovery during Valentine’s Day can be tricky when everyone else is indulging, but here are a few techniques to consider:
- Respect the power of pressure. It’s easy to think that you’ll be able to resist peer pressure to eat chocolate, go out to a fancy dinner or drink or eat to excess. But in the moment, it may be harder to stick to the plan than you expected. Remember that peer pressure can be immensely powerful, so ask friends and colleagues ahead of time to respect your boundaries during the holiday. Alternatively, spend time with people who you know will support your recovery wholeheartedly.
- Stick to your treatment plan. While challenging, sticking to your treatment plan is hugely important on holidays, especially any that revolve around food. Remember that your plan has helped you thus far, so staying on track can guide you through difficult periods, too.
- Enlist your therapist, recovery group, or friends. You’ve built up a support network during your treatment program, so don’t be afraid to use it during difficult days. Ask professionals like your therapist or doctor for help, or call upon members of your recovery group or friends for support.
Manage Emotional Responses In Healthy Ways
If you’re currently in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction, Valentine’s Day also has some hidden dangers, including a pressure to drink socially. But perhaps the biggest challenge is handling the emotional responses that often come with the holiday, including feelings of loneliness, isolation, rejection, or guilt.
Dealing with intense emotions can sometimes trigger addictive behaviors as a way to cope or manage stress, including returning to drinking or taking drugs. If you’re worried that emotional pressure might trigger a relapse, make sure you enlist the support of a friend in recovery or 12-step group during Valentine’s Day. You likely won’t be alone in needing support and can help each other manage the pressures of the holiday.
Recognize Your Loved Ones Of All Types
As we noted above, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a celebration purely focused on romance. If you have someone in your life that you love and appreciate purely as a friend, recognizing them on this holiday can make both of you feel better. Even a small gesture like a greeting card or a recognition of how much you appreciate their support can help transform this holiday into a positive day of appreciation.
Turning Point of Tampa’s goal is to always provide a safe environment and a solid foundation in 12-Step recovery, in tandem with quality individual therapy and groups. We have been offering Licensed Residential Treatment for Addiction, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis in Tampa since 1987.