Even with the help of a few bags of Valentine’s candy, there’s absolutely no way to sugarcoat this: Breakups are terrible. They’re pretty much the furthest thing from fun no matter when they happen, but they can feel especially crummy when they happen within a few weeks of what’s supposed to be the loviest, doviest day of the year. Whether you love Valentine’s Day or just love to hate it, you have to admit that a breakup around February 14 feels like one of the worst scenarios for the end of a relationship. The Valentine’s Day season is one of the only times when it’s practically impossible to hide from messages of romance and forever love, and who needs that when they’re in the thick of Splitsville emotions?

Psychologist Dr. Sherry Benton — founder and chief science officer of TAO Connect — has some survival tips for anyone living this unfortunate breakup scenario. And since she confirms our suspicion that Valentine’s Day is really just an opportunity for us to be “inundated” with evidence that everyone in the world must be in a perfect relationship, these recommendations are definitely important for the lovesick among us. Keep scrolling for all the details.

A woman sadly holds a bunch of heart balloons

1. Don’t turn Valentine’s Day into a longer season. “Recognize that what feels like a season is largely a marketing ploy,” Dr. Benton suggests. “Valentine’s Day is a little in-your-face.” Realizing that much of the hubbub around the occasion is just smart business on the part of candy and chocolate companies might help you feel a little better about tackling the weeks ahead. Remember: Valentine’s Day is really, well, a day. Get through those 24 hours, and you’ll be well on your way to bouncing back.

2. Focus on self-care and positive distractions. Don’t sit around wallowing. Instead, take action by making a plan to do something that will actually help you heal. Grab a friend and get some fresh air or set up a massage on Valentine’s Day. The more distracted you are, the easier it will be to survive February 14.

3. Avoid romantic pop culture. This should go without saying, but if self-care to you looks like spending the evening of the 14th alone on your couch with a box of chocolates and a glass of wine, do not (we repeat — do not) allow yourself to turn on a romantic movie. The same goes for TV shows and books. There’s a lot of lovey-dovey content out there for Valentine’s Day, but avoid it as much as you can. It’s only going to make you feel worse. Try a goofy comedy or documentary instead.

4. Remember that grief is totally normal. “Would we want to be the kind of people who are completely unaffected by a loss like that?” Dr. Benton asks us. “No! We want to be sensitive, compassionate, caring people. Sometimes, that means when bad things happen, we feel bad — and that’s okay. That’s healthy.” If you’re feeling down in the dumps, cut yourself some slack and give yourself the time and space you need to get through the breakup aftermath. We would actually be more concerned if you weren’t sad!

A woman comforts her friend

5. Lean on your support system. The people who love you will help you through a breakup no matter when it happens. Pick up the phone and assemble your go-to support team. A BFF or close family member will be a great shoulder to cry on, and they’ll be just the person you need to help you forget that Valentine’s Day is even a thing.

6. Be a smart consumer of social media. Most of us could probably take this hint 365 days of the year regardless of our relationship status, but if it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re recovering from a recent breakup, it’s all the more important. Take it easy on the Instagram scrolling and Facebook stalking. You don’t need to be confronted with sappy Valentine’s Day posts and couple pics while you’re trying to heal your heart. A helpful reminder from Dr. Benton: “You get inundated with people looking like their life is better than it is. Nobody’s real life looks much like their life looks on social media. It’s really important to keep that in mind.”

7. Stop thinking you’re a burden. Your natural instinct after most breakups might be to reach out to family and friends — and that shouldn’t change simply because others are celebrating Valentine’s Day. Resist the urge to hold back with your loved ones for fear of ruining their holiday. Dr. Benton reminds us that breakups are a “universal experience,” which means that the people who care about you will be ready and waiting to be a listening ear regardless of their own V-Day enthusiasm.

8. Don’t make the breakup more complicated just because of the timing. If you had real feelings for your former S.O., the breakup was going to be a challenge whether it happened in February, June, or October — so try not to assign additional significance or sentimentality to the situation simply because it all went down so close to February 14. Approach the aftermath of this split just as you would any other breakup at any other time. Do your best to think of Valentine’s Day as just another day (you definitely won’t be the only one!), and take your grief one day at a time.

What is the best breakup survival tip you’ve ever received? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)