For those in the first throes of love, February 14th can be a wonderful opportunity to make your partner feel special by lavishing them with complements and presents and spending quality time together, but for those whose love-life is not in a healthy place, St Valentine's Day can be a thoroughly depressing time; highlighting what is missing in your life rather than celebrating how special you are. And if you are alone because of a recent break-up or bereavement, Cupid may be the last image you want to see that day.
Take stock of your situation
Accept what is happening on February 14th and give yourself time to assess your feelings about it. It's OK to hanker for the romantic love of another person or miss someone you have lost but it's not helpful to your mental wellbeing to let it take over your mood and spoil a whole 24 hours of your life. Think about what you are looking for and assess why you haven't found it. Try to be realistic about your own strengths and weaknesses in your relationships and assess what you need at this point in your life. Maybe you are not ready for a committment right now? That's OK. Think about your wants and needs and what you can do to achieve your goals. If there is nothing you can change, focus on the good things in your life rather than the bad.
As well as making longer-term plans to change your situation if you want to, ensure you have planned for February 14th so you don't suddently find yourself stuck at home watching a romantic movie and drowning your sorrows in too much wine and chocolate. You can have a nice day too but don't leave it until the last minute to plan how you will spend your time.
Spend time with friends and family
You won't be the only person not wanting to go to the local restaurant for a romantic meal, so find someone who loves you and thinks you're special and spend quality time with them, doing things that you all enjoy. Try to steer clear of places where couples will be and keep to fun and light-hearted activities such as paintballing, playing board or video games at home, or looking through old family photos and videos to laugh at your questionable fashion choices. If you have lots of single friends, why not host a party for them or do something together? Best of all, you could offer to babysit for a friend - children are a great way to distract yourself from romance, can be very affectionate and you'll soon realise that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.
As well as being a good distraction and that you won't find many couples being romantic in the local gym, exercise is an ideal 'cure-all' on Valentine's Day. Not only will you improve your physical health, but you will release a surge of endorphines and happy hormones which will make you feel better.
Build your self-esteem
Take some time to remind yourself about what a great person you are. If you're not used to doing this, write a list of your 5 best physical attributes, your 5 best personality traits and the 5 nicest things you have done for someone else.
Focus on giving
It can be hard to watch a constant flow of gifts arriving for people in the office or taking in flowers for your neighbour and wishing they were for you, but try to focus the great feeling you get from giving rather than receiving. Spend time volunteering for a local charity or donate to your favourite cause. Take treats into work and hand them out to your co-workers or just try to do something nice for a complete random stranger. It will make you feel far more fulfilled than a few wilting roses even days after Valentine's Day.
Get your favourite food in stock, run a warm bath, indulge in your best lotions and potions, treat yourself to all of the things you rarely get time to do and settle down in front of your favourite comedy. Have some 'me time' but try not to drink too much. Have an early night so that you'll feel alert and refreshed the next day when your co-workers are nursing their hangovers. You'll feel much better able to cope with their accounts of their celebrations so you can try to be happy for them.
Remember - it's just a day!
Valentine's Day is just one day out of 365 and is just a number on a calendar, which does not define love. We celebrate it now only because a card company decided to market it as a special day. Whether you are alone or with someone, everyone has up days and down days, celebrations and challenges and your life is what you make of it. Make the most of your time on Earth and you'll feel fulfilled, whether in a couple or single, and tomorrow is another day.