It’s been impossible to ignore Valentine’s Day since early January, especially as our surroundings (on essential shopping trips) have been changing hue from grey to every shade of pink to crimson. For many, today will bring mixed emotions, particularly if you’re single or in a relationship that is not meeting your needs. Here are some ideas and advice to see you through the day …
“First and foremost, remember it’s just one day,” says Anita Coghlan, a Dun Laoghaire-based psychotherapist. “It’s become such a focal point in the calendar primarily because of commercialisation. If not for that it would have the same significance as any other saint’s day in the calendar. Many people have mixed emotions about Valentine’s day, feeling more isolated and alone than ever, even those in relationships. You can grieve a relationship even when you are in one if it is not meeting your needs for connection.”
Coghlan’s biggest tip is to be kind to yourself. “We put so much importance on relationships and, as cliched as it sounds, the best relationship you can have is with yourself. Remind yourself that the process of finding the best relationship for you is through trial and error; relationships fail because they weren’t the right one. Just because you are not with the right person now doesn’t mean you’re not worthy of love or will never find the right one, so avoid catastrophising. You may not be in a relationship on this particular day. That’s all you know to be true.”
Instead, today is the perfect occasion to have a date with yourself. Coghlan suggests cooking something special and doing whatever you need to create a sense of occasion to make yourself the highlight of your day.
Do: Contact friends who may find themselves in a similar situation. If they’re in your bubble, get together for a brisk, bracing walk and enjoy a coffee on a park bench. If they’re not in your bubble, meet on Zoom.
Don’t: Contact an ex. Or even send him that cute smiling dog from Tik Tok, or post cryptic throwback sunset images on Instagram of (quite clearly) your last holiday together in Bali. Why? Because “A woman who lives in the past has no future.” This is now ingrained in my psyche (I’m even thinking of getting it embroidered on a T-shirt I feel so strongly the rectitude of this maxim). For further advice about contacting exes read this previous post.
Read: Julia Samuel’s peerless This Too Shall Pass which is full of stories of change, crisis and hopeful beginnings. Samuel is a therapist and grief counsellor, who in spite of all the heartbreak she has heard in her consulting rooms, believes that we can always survive and thrive.
Wear: A red lipstick. Even if you are having a no make-up day, a bright shade will perk up your complexion and mood. There are lots of warming shades from YSL’s spendy new Rouge Volupté Shine family in Burning Chili colours. Or try the new Up Cosmetics range by Pippa O’Connor Ormond and Úna Tynan. I particularly like the Berry Red or Siren lipsticks, €20. They come in a creamy formula that is both hydrating and feels soft on the lips; www.upcosmetics.com.
Listen: To an uplifting virtual performance by opera singer Ava Dodd at 5pm, when she will be singing some well-known French songs and arias. To find out more visit www.wexfordopera.com.
Use: Some natural oils to boost your mood. I’m a firm believer in aromatherapy and have been using Neom’s “Great Day” oil on pulse points all week; www.neomorganics.com. Other equally effective alternatives I recommend include Aromatherapy Associates’s Revive roller ball in a stress busting blend of neroli and grapefruit essentials; www.aromatherapyassociates.com. Sinead Duffy, founder of Yogandha, recommends citrus oils (as well as orange, bergamot or clary sage) which have a wonderfully positive impact on mood and mind. Some studies have shown they even help balance Seasonal Adjustment Disorder; www.yogandha.com.
Celebrate: Chinese New Year and find out more about the year of the Ox. There are several virtual events scheduled today from museum tours to films and tempting recipes for a Chinese feast. If you are feeling creative, why not participate in one of the Hugh Lane Gallery workshops – there’s no need to register beforehand, just keep an open mind and have some paper to hand. www.dublinlunarnewyear.ie
Learn: About jewellery. So, maybe in the words of Beyoncé in Single Ladies, he hasn’t put a ring on it (yet), why not investigate some impressive jewellery and their provenance virtually? Currently online at Christies you’ll find “A Selection Of Love Gifts From The Last Century” from fabulous Faberge tiaras to the Harry Winston Pink Legacy sparkler which weighs in at a phenomenal 18.96 carats. My appetite for gorgeous jewellery and the love stories behind them knows no bounds; www.christies.com.
Paint: I love nothing more than musing over paint charts and believe in the transformative power of colour – on both walls and in your wardrobe. If you are considering a spring update at home, think carefully about the colours you choose – they can have a positive contribution to your mood. Keith Byrne, CEO of Graphenstone Ireland, recommends green. “The colour of nature and new life, it’s the hopeful, primal colour we all need more of in our lives right now. Green can work in any room, and is so versatile from soft muted tones to bolder iterations.” The effect of green on human health has been shown to be instrumental in lowering blood pressure. Byrne recommends “Green Pear Smoothie” or “Irish Green Summer”; www.graphenstone.ie.
Watch: Romantic films. What’s your favourite weepie? Some of mine include The Way We Were, The Notebook, Out of Africa, and Miss Potter. Coghlan says, “Sometimes having a good cry, particularly with people with whom you feel safe, can help process the feelings of isolation, abandonment or rejection. Tapping vicariously into your emotions through film is a great way to feel what you’re feeling in a way which doesn’t overwhelm.” I’ll be watching a film this evening with a special Valentine’s Love Whip, €2.30 from M&S.
Write: If you are holding onto a relationship which is over or which no longer serves you, maybe take the opportunity to let it go. Create a ritual around this. Coghlan recommends writing a letter to your former lover telling them what you need to release you both from the bind. “Burning the letter provides a powerful symbol to the subconscious to move on and let go of anything which formerly tied you to that person. Allow yourself to heal. Often we hold on to the pain of a failed relationship because it allows us to still feel connected to the person, even if that connection is painful. Letting go of that connection can be scary but if you don’t, you stop the process of healing.”
Make: A spa day of it and whip up a homemade face mask. Brown sugar and honey is good for exfoliation, while one made from oats and yoghurt is very soothing. Or you could consult a top facialist – such as the brilliant face whisperer Beata Aleksandrowicz, who has introduced online classes. It’s impossible to get an appointment with her in real life, so her virtual Face Revival classes are on my list of corona blessings, see beata.website for details.
Regulate: Your sleep. Everything seems more heightened if your sleep pattern is disrupted. Mine has been variable with full and new moons and work deadlines recently. I’m currently testing Pureis Ultra Pure CBD – launched by Chanelle McCoy Health last year. Studies have shown that taking CBD oil every morning has numerous benefits including reducing the symptoms of stress and anxiety, improving sleep, boosting immunity and reducing inflammation. Pureis, by the way, is the first CBD food supplement in the UK and Ireland market to use FDA registered raw material and be clinically proven to be safe. www.pureiscbd.com
Plant: Some bulbs – I have found this a form of ongoing therapy – nurturing seeds and watching them bloom. Why not pick up some at Lidl, which always has a good selection? Now is the right time for planting galtonia or summer hyacinths, or some of the many varieties of agapanthus. Containers are ideal if you don’t have a border, making it far easier to provide them with winter protection by bringing under cover. Once the frost (and snow) have passed, move the pots outdoors to a warm, sunny position. As for herbs, grow some rosemary. It improves brain function, eases stress and decreases negativity.
Visit: London, if only virtually, and a new installation by artist Amy Broch, who I profiled in Artistic License. The aim of this pink and crimson confection is a reminder to save some love for yourself this year. Drawing inspiration from childhood nostalgia, pop culture, and Broch’s shimmering candy-coated imagination, her so-called “Joy Bombs” encourage the public to enjoy a little silliness and laugh away their worries; www.joybomblondon.com.
Look up: Finally, if it’s a dry night go outside and see if you can spot Betelgeuse, the Valentine’s Day Star, which pulsates in size and brightness (and is located on the shoulder of Orion the Hunter). Some say it is reminiscent of a beating heart. You might also be able to distinguish the bright orange star Aldebaran, “the Eye of the Bull, Taurus”, or the lovely star group called the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters – a fabulous sight in binoculars or a small telescope. There are lots of other bright stars on view, such as Procyon and Capella, and Castor and Pollux, the Heavenly Twins in Gemini; armagh.space.
Main featured image: Spring Feeling ii, etching by Siobhan Cuffe from SO Fine Art Editions; www.sofinearteditions.com.
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