Ah, Valentine’s Day. Love it or hate, it seems there’s no escaping it sometimes. Whether you’re loved up or not, the influx of reminders sometimes leaves us with no choice but to acknowledge the day.
Thanks to the 24/7 news cycle, constant updates on social media and brands capitalising on gift purchases, that one day can sometimes feel as though it goes on forever.
Which is why, no matter your relationship status, it might be time for a digital detox on Valentine’s Day.
The Highlight Reel
Thanks to the past couple of years where our in-person social interaction has been limited, screen times are at an all-time high. Unfortunately, with more time spent online, there’s more exposure to what has been dubbed as ‘the highlight reel’. Put simply, the highlight reel gives us the best version of what we see (and the rest of the stuff stays behind closed doors). Whether it’s comparing your relationship or single status to images you might see on social media, or the relationship of a celebrity seen on the news, what you’re seeing is the highlight reel (or the very best version). This means you’re not getting an insight into the day to day and certainly not being privy to any of the negative aspects.
Feelings Of Inferiority
Ever caught yourself feeling ‘less than’ or as if your single status or relationship is inferior to those you see online? Same. Unfortunately, as humans, we have a natural instinct to compare ourselves to others. This can lead to feelings of inferiority which can be incredibly detrimental to a relationship. Sometimes it can be a case of ‘ignorance is bliss’ when it comes to being privy to how another person might spend Valentine’s Day. If you switch off from the digital world, you might find that you’re blissfully unaware of what you’re ‘missing out’ on.
Comparison (that human instinct we all have) is often unavoidable. In fact, a theory coined ‘social comparison theory’ was first proposed in 1954 by psychologist Leon Festinger and suggested that people have an innate drive to evaluate themselves, often in comparison to others. Comparison is necessary when it comes to providing a benchmark that we can use to make accurate evaluations of ourselves, particularly if we’re trying to improve.
However, exposing ourselves to the act of comparison constantly can be unnecessary if it is simply making us feel bad about ourselves. Sure, if comparison gives us a drive to work harder, or be more ambitious etc, it’s a great thing, but if it constantly makes us feel less than, it’s not productive. Especially when what we’re comparing with is not real (aka the highlight reel). Put simply, comparison can really be a thief of joy, particularly when it comes to how we feel about being single, or how we feel about our relationships.
Switch Off Completely
A great way to have a full digital detox is to turn off notifications on your phone, turn your phone on silent and, if you need, switch off from the outside world completely. As we all know, notifications can be an easy distraction and before you know it, you’re consumed again in the digital world. Disconnect completely, even if it’s only for a little while.
Unfortunately, we have become reliant on dopamine dumps (a chemical related to our instant gratification in our reward and pleasure centre of the brain) and with that comes comparison, ‘the not good enough’ narrative, body image issues, relationship issues, procrastination and the list goes on. Try to limit your time spent on screens to things that are beneficial and eliminate the aimless scrolling.
Connect With People Instead
For many people, especially those dealing with a break-up or for singles, Valentine’s Day is not a fun day. While it’s great to celebrate love, having it plastered everywhere when maybe we aren’t feeling the love, can be upsetting. This Valentine’s Day, try to switch off completely and connect in person instead. Knowing that your wellbeing can deteriorate without genuine human connection could be the push you need to get your head out of the digital world and into a meaningful conversation with someone you care about.
Stop the mindless scrolling, avoid the social media comparison trap, and just simply take a break from your phone. Reach out to friends and loved ones and spend some quality time together, sans any digital interruptions.
Talk To An Expert
If you find yourself feeling particularly glum or down about Valentine’s Day, remember that everyone is prone to have a bad day from time to time. However, if these feelings linger on, it is important to seek help from a professional. Just like you’d consult a GP or personal trainer for your physical health and fitness, seeking an expert’s advice for mental health is simply like a trainer for your mind.
If you or someone you know is in a crisis or experiencing suicidal or homicidal thoughts, please contact 000 immediately.
Nancy Sokarno is a psychologist at Lysn. Lysn is a digital mental health company with world class wellbeing technology which helps people find their best-fit professional psychologist whilst being able to access online tools to improve their mental health.
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Image credit: Urban List