10 ways singles can celebrate Valentine’s Day

I’ve always been single on Valentine’s Day and, through the years, I have run the gamut in celebrating this holiday o’ love alone. Some years I’ve taken my cue from “Sex in the City” and gone out with the girlfriends to a luxurious dinner. Other years, I’ve wallowed in depression in the privacy of my home, cuddled up with the only two dependable men in my life: Ben and Jerry. I have also tried ignoring the holiday all together, but inevitably some child would hand me a “Be Mine” candy sweetheart, and I’d be keenly aware that the only relationship offer I was getting came from a 10-year-old.

Now, after decades of celebrating the holiday solo, I’ve realized that Valentine’s Day can still be as meaningful of an experience for me as it is for all the lovebirds. Without the handholding and candlelit meals, Valentine’s Day is a terrific time to express and experience love in all of my relationships. Here are 8 tips for how to make it to February 15 without a nervous breakdown.

Love the Loving
Cherish those who have invested in your life. Whether it’s a spiritual guide, a handful of close family members, or an extended circle of friends, undoubtedly there are people who have touched your heart. Show them what their love means to you by expressing your gratitude.

Identify key moments of your life when you felt inspired, encouraged, and particularly loved. Who were the people supporting you during those meaningful moments? Make a phone call, mail a card, or send an email to share your memories. Show how each person’s love has impacted and shaped your life. If you have the means, treat your loved ones to special, personalized gifts to honor them the way they have honored you.

Love the Broken
Remind someone who has been marginalized of his or her value. One of my favorite non-profit organizations is Reveal NYC, a grassroots group of professionals dedicated to celebrating women who are recovering from abuse. In an effort to re-impart value to women who feel unlovable, each year the organization holds a special Valentine’s Day Makeover event for hundreds of women.

Follow in Reveal’s footsteps by donating your time or resources to someone in your life who may feel broken and unloved. Find a charity you feel passionately about and commit to serving those in need. Make volunteerism personal by serving someone you know. A single mom or dad in your neighborhood might love an offer to baby-sit or a gift certificate for a nice dinner. A friend who has recently been divorced or has ended a romantic relationship will treasure a phone call. Whatever you do, you’ll likely find that the love you give comes back to you in greater measure.

Love the Unknown
Share a little love with a stranger. Some call it paying it forward and others call it performing random acts of kindness. Whatever label you choose, spend Valentine’s Day finding small and selfless ways to treat a stranger with no expectation of kindness in return. Orienting your heart to generosity instantly eliminates disconnection and spreads love to anyone within a 10-foot radius of you.

Surprise the person in line behind you with a free latte by slipping an extra $5 to the barista while ordering your own morning cup of joe. Give the gift of time by allowing someone to cut in front of you in line at the grocery store. Small gestures of kindness like these can have a big impact, changing the entire course of someone’s day.

Love the Unloveable
Begin the dialogue of reconciliation with a friend or family member-turned-enemy. We all have people in our lives whom we have hurt or individuals who have left open wounds in our hearts due to conflict, unspoken resentment, or unmet expectations. While sending a handmade heart-shaped card may not be the best way to resolve past hurts, Valentine’s Day presents a unique opportunity to heal. This year, try finding closure in strained relationships by proactively reaching out to others in love.

Whether you pick up the phone or send an email, communicate with someone estranged by asking for forgiveness or expressing your own pain and longing to move past conflict. If direct communication is too painful, spend some time meditating over what happened. Psychologists often recommend writing a letter to the other party — one you don’t intend to mail — as a way to process your emotions and find resolution.

Love the Past
Honor the life you’ve lived. During seasons of singleness, it can often feel like love and happiness are distant memories. Particularly on February 14, past joy is forgotten and only the heartache of love lost looms large. This year, pay homage to the past by reflecting on the positive experiences that have colored your life.

Make a list of the top 10 experiences that have enriched your life. Whether it was a place you visited, a goal you accomplished, or a person you loved, write down some of the key elements of your past that molded you. Surround yourself with photos or mementos from those times to serve as visual catalysts to inspire memories.

Love the Present
Be fully present in the life you’re living today. All of the pressure associated with Valentine’s Day can make it easy for singles to feel like life is lacking in some way. On February 13 the world’s in color and then, 24 hours later, Cupid rears his little head and you’re suddenly measuring happiness in chocolate hearts. This year, don’t miss out on the potential for joy set before you today by living for tomorrow.

Acknowledge that while you may have romantic desires for the future, you also have a wonderful reality today. Take stock of what treasures you have in your present life. Do you love your work? Are your friendships deepening? Do you feel like you’re making a contribution to the world? Identify the pleasures you currently have, and allow gratitude for your present circumstances be an encouragement.

Love the Spirit
Rediscover the story your life is telling. The core value of the faith community I’m a part of is to “join God in the renewal of all things.” I love that sentiment. It’s a helpful reminder, particularly in times when I feel lonely or discouraged, that my life is part of a larger narrative to inspire positive change in the world. What story are you a part of? Tap into your spirit and fall in love all over again with the greater story you’re living.

Spend some time in prayer and meditation and reconnect with the spirit that guides your life. Read inspirational quotes from spiritual leaders or holy books from your faith and think about the principles that inform how you live. Journal gratitude for your faith and focus on key moments when your beliefs felt particularly vibrant.

Love the Self
Love the one closest to you… yourself! Boyfriends, friends, and even family may come and go, but you will always have you. So don’t forget to spoil and treat yourself to something special.

Indulge in a guilty pleasure with absolutely no apologies. Sing off-key to your favorite song. Curl up with a cup of tea and that book you’ve been dying to read for the past three months. Lose yourself in a seaweed wrap at the spa. Whatever your heart desires, be your own best Valentine.

Chanel Graham is the editor and co-founder of I Kissed Dating Hello, an online community-driven website exploring the challenges and triumphs of contemporary Christian dating. She is based in New York City.

Article courtesy of Beliefnet.com. Beliefnet offers daily inspiration with news articles on faith, religion, politics, health, family entertainment, sustainable living and more.