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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

Let’s Make Valentine’s Day Way Less Stressful Than It Needs To Be

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

Potentially unpopular opinion: the purest and best iteration of Valentine’s Day was in middle school when we would stay up the night before, decorating cards for every one of our friends and classmates. We would save up pocket money to spend on jumbo packs of candies and cheap chocolate. When the morning finally arrived, we’d rush to school early and eagerly to find the desks dotted with these little tokens and cards.

rose wine
Kaboompics via Pexels

Is it strange that I am twenty and spending my first Valentine’s Day as an attached individual in a steady romantic relationship yearning for simpler, easier times? I don’t think I’m the only person feeling the pressure. This year, total spending in America on cards, gifts and last-minute surprises is approximated to reach USD 21.8 billion. For many, Valentine’s Day revolves around extensive celebrations of romantic relationships and Significant Others (SOs). For attached people, along with the high expectations of flowers and chocolates may also come its sneaky subversive cousin: fear of disappointment. Blessed are those who are thoroughly comfortable with singledom, but others may be struggling with deep-rooted anxieties about being alone.

“You don’t need a partner to be worth it and important.”

I think it’s high time that we unmake and remake Valentine’s Day. Beyond celebrating romantic love with the usual symbolisms, let’s reach out and reach deeper to celebrate our loving relationships with our friends, families, and ourselves.

“Love comes in all forms, and it’s all around you.”

Check in with your friends. One of my favorite quote is in the novel A Little Life, where author Hanya Yanagihara writes, “Why wasn’t friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn’t it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified.” There is so much love and beauty in the phenomenon of us making connections with strangers that we previously had no reasons to be affiliated with.

Celebrate this precious human connection of mutual enjoyment of each other’s company and character by taking all the basic date ideas and spinning them on their head. Craft cards for your friends and revisit the special places you used to hang out at to make new memories. Check out that park they’ve always wanted to visit. Plan an over-the-Zoom date for the whole day. Play Secret Santa but with food deliveries, or send them ingredients so that the two of you can cook a meal together! The possibilities are endless.

“Don’t let pressure from society affect your love life decisions or the way you talk to yourself.”

Check in with yourself. Self-care isn’t always bubble baths and scented candles, but you deserve to get comfortable with yourself physically and mindfully. Engage in the routines and hobbies that make you feel better loved. Write letters to yourself—I started this habit when I was twelve and today, I’m endlessly entertained by the missives from my previous selves. Write one letter on the things you would’ve told the thirteen-year-old version of you. Write another on the things from the present that you’d like the thirty-year-old version of you to remember.

On Valentine’s Day especially, it can be painful to remember former SOs that you envisioned you might spend much more time with, or friends and family that you have lost. Validate these feelings of loss. You can do this in a vacuum where your words don’t accidentally hurt anyone else, if that’s something you’re afraid of: blog, journal, rack up logs in a gratitude notebook. Track dreams, number of hours of sleep that you got, the amount of water you drank, the songs you listened to, the scent of your soap and the sound of traffic. Track anything and everything to systematically break down day by day and distill moments of mindful consciousness within the minutes that slip past. Get naked and vulnerable with your subconscious mind.

Take this day to fall in love with your life again and again, and as many times as needed to feel validated and comforted by the place you’re at today, because you’re doing the best that you possibly can to get by with every day. For me, making things, going to my happy places and lingering longer than usual, searching for new happy places, remembering my past self and fondly criticizing her poor taste in books and media are all things that help.

Person in a bathtub with lemons and herbs reading
Photo by Taryn Elliot from Pexels
“February 14th is only one day.”

Every relationship takes give-and-take deposits of time, energy and attention over the years to grow, including the relationship you have with yourself. The way we celebrate Valentine’s Day, or not, can never define the qualities of trust and love in their entirety. All the same, I hope that you’re able to live the 14th in a way that feels authentic to you, release the mounting pressure and detangle yourself from the pile of grandiose ideas.

Life is too short to dissolve in the stress of making this one day perfect.

Audrey Choong is a Feature Writer for the UCLA Chapter of Her Campus. Currently, she is a 2nd year student Majoring in Economics and Minoring in Urban & Regional Studies from her home in Singapore. Audrey is passionate about community involvement and women's advocacy. In her free time, she loves baking, doodling in her bullet journal and exploring the city.