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Well being - help with keeping your mind healthy

Dr Brenda Dawes-Burritt (Psychologist)

1 February

As we are in February, I thought we should address the subject of Valentine's Day. This can be very difficult for you not just on the day but also in the weeks running up to it.

You will see lots of depressing advertising around you continuously revelling in an image of a happy relationship which, studies show, is largely unrealistic. You will also be forced to overhear people you know talking about their husbands or boyfriends and their plans for dinner or frankly rather sickening hints about conjugal activities and gift purchases.

Firstly, do remember that these relationships are almost certainly not as wonderful as the person is pretending. No man is as good as they would have you believe.

However, as the day approaches I would suggest that you form a survival plan. The best one I have found is actually the simplest. Go home straight from work or whatever you were doing as early as possible. Pull the curtains, switch off your phone. Put on a CD or similar of music which you have known for a long time - importantly do not put on the radio. Then open a bottle of white wine and read a heavyweight book - like Das Kapital or The God Delusion. Avoid anything to do with the body, art or obviously any mass consumption literature. Go to bed early and when you wake up you will hardly have noticed that it happened.

If you are married or in a relationship - the important thing is to keep your hopes down. Don't expect passion or romantic gestures or even fine food. Men who use the opportunity to prepare something usually display their ineptitude at cookery.

Just treat it as another evening-in and all will be well. If you plan something you are setting yourself up for a fall.

And, please: keep to yourself what gifts you decided to buy him. Others do not want to know.

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