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Celebrate all of the important relationships in your life on Palentine’s Day

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: February 11, 2022 10:00 a.m.

Palentine’s Day, a day to celebrate all of the important people in your life, is February 13.
Palentine’s Day, a day to celebrate all of the important people in your life, is February 13. iStock

What if there was a day to celebrate the people who are the most important to you? A day that doesn’t make you feel hyperaware that you are single. A day that you don’t have to see countless proposals, flowers, jewelry, and posts about “bae” as you scroll through social media. Good news – Palentine’s Day is February 13 and we are welcoming it with open arms.

Palentine’s Day is a day for everyone, it doesn’t care what your relationship status is. It’s a day to celebrate all of the important relationships and connections in your life, whether it is your friends, family members, co-workers, or even your pets. It’s also a great opportunity to let them know how much you care about them.

Lee Bourgeault is a Clinical Research Associate with the Online Therapy Unit at the University of Regina, and she recognizes the importance of having supportive people around you, which may or may not include a romantic partner. It is especially important if you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety.

“Culturally, we put so much emphasis on romantic connections but that’s only one connection of many in our lives,” says Bourgeault. “We are told that our romantic partner should be our ‘everything’ and our soulmate, but that’s an unreasonable expectation to put on your partner. It also eliminates some really valuable connections outside of that one romantic connection.”

When you diversify who you connect with and the ways that you connect, it not only enriches your life but it diversifies your experiences. If you are struggling with symptoms of anxiety and depression, this also allows you to get support from a variety of people, and you are not putting the caregiving role on just one person.

Your support system doesn’t only have to include people, it can include pets as well. A lot of times the symptoms of depression can include low motivation, fatigue, not wanting to get out of bed, and social withdrawal. Pets are a great coping mechanism to reverse those symptoms. By having a responsibility outside of ourselves, it forces us to do things that our symptoms make us not want to do. For example, taking your dog for a walk because they need the exercise.

Lee Bourgeault
Lee Bourgeault is a Clinical Research Associate with the Online Therapy Unit.
Photo Credit: Lee Bourgeault

“We know that when you are experiencing low motivation and fatigue due to depression, the best way to treat these symptoms is to do the opposite of how you feel,” says Bourgeault. “So, if you feel extra tired and unmotivated, that is the day you should take your dog on an extra-long walk. A pet can be instrumental in counteracting low motivation and fatigue.”

But is there such a thing as overburdening one person with your problems or oversharing too much about your life? Bourgeault says that boundaries are important to keep in mind, especially when it comes to people such as our co-workers. With COVID, our co-workers have become a huge social connection for many of us. They have become our allies in being alone, working from home, and only seeing each other over Zoom. While this has given many of us the opportunity to form new friendships, it’s important to check in with others how they are feeling as well.

“If a friend is withdrawing from you or you are overburdening them, you can have that conversation with them by asking ‘I am feeling really low today, is that something that you’re ok with taking on?’” says Bourgeault. “That open communication is important, especially when you feel like that person is a support person for you.”

It’s also important to connect with people when you’re feeling good and you’re celebrating your accomplishments. Humans are social beings, and our brain does better when we have social connections.

Palentine’s Day is the perfect time to let those around you know how much you appreciate them and that you are thankful they are in your life. This can be as simple as sending a quick text.

“We can pay it forward by writing a card to let someone know how much we value them, or even just sending them a text message can brighten a person’s day,” says Bourgeault. “Other people can build us up when we don’t feel our best, and we also have that ability to build others up all of the time.”

The Online Therapy Unit offers the UniWellbeing course for post-secondary students. This course helps students with thoughts, behaviours, and physical symptoms of depression and anxiety. This includes taking the first step in social connections, which can be difficult for many because of social anxiety. Bourgeault refers to this as “graded exposure” – taking baby steps towards a bigger goal.

If you are interested in the UniWellbeing course, visit the Online Therapy Unit’s website and select “Apply Now”.