Valentine's Day is right around the corner, but a celebration of love can be hard when you're feeling lonely — kind of like singer Ari Lennox expresses at the end of her 2019 song, “New Apartment.”
“I just started thinking about life. Like, I'm lonely,” she says. “All the furniture you get does not keep you warm at night.”
Loneliness has become an epidemic. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory last year calling attention to the public health crisis of loneliness, isolation and lack of connection, all made worse by the pandemic.
It’s something Celeste Viciere hears from people she works with. Viciere is a mental health professional and hosts a podcast also called Celeste The Therapist.
“When there's a day dedicated to love and couples, it's easy for people that are not experiencing that to feel the single-ness even more,” she said.
Of course, we know that there are all kinds of love: Self-love, friendship love, family love and so on. But romantic love tends to have greater societal emphasis placed on it, which can lead to people feeling pressure.
“It's on TV, it's in the movies. We grow up thinking that, you know, we're going to be in our 20s having a relationship and live happily ever after,” Viciere said. “So a lot of people's mindset around what life should look like is unfortunately based off of what society has deemed as success.”
When she works with people who say they feel acutely lonely around Feb. 14, she said, she tries to take a pragmatic approach.
“I remind them on February 10th they were fine. And a lot of emotions that come up is being left out, feeling lonely, frustrated by their circumstances because of how much that day is highlighted in America,” she said. “When I talk to people about love and showing up for themselves, I talk about being kind of disciplined in what they choose to do.”
That self-love can be saying no to people, or taking time to relax, or prioritizing time to keep the promises people make to themselves.
People who feel their loneliness is impacting their lives can seek outside help, too, she said.
“Obviously I think therapy is a great way. But I also understand it's not always accessible for people,” she said. “Sometimes social media is unfortunately a big trigger for people. Everybody is showing their highlight reels. If you find yourself feeling frustrated after seeing certain things or feeling sad when you're around other couples, or if you're seeing, you know, right now there is a lot of advertisement for Valentine's Day, I always tell people, get off of the phone and engage in something that brings you joy.”
Viciere left us with an affirmation: “You have more power than you think.”
“You just have to have faith to believe in yourself,” she said. “Faith and fear, they exhibit the same kind of emotions, and they're both unknown. But have faith that things are going to work out and you're going to find yourself being content in the here and now, even if you're not coupled up, you can start that process literally today.”