If you’re single this Valentine’s Day

The key to not letting Valentine’s Day get to you if you’re single is to get busy. Not just any busy, but – as I recommend in Rule Five of my book – lofty-busy. I define a lofty activity as anything that engages your better self: your brain, your goodness, your creativity. In other words, something that’s not passive or purely about consumption, but requires action and mental effort – the kind of activity leaves you feeling full of self-worth.

This year, avoid the usual go-out-get-wasted-with-single-mates routine since this puts the emphasis firmly on the very thing you’re trying to rise above. But if you aren’t daunted by being out in public on the big V-Day, then I advise you to treat yourself to something cultural. The theatre is a great way to pass the evening in a state of intellectual absorption – London, if you’re based here, has countless offerings. Get last-minute returns to something at the National. Or go to a film: but a challenging one – choose an arthouse cinema, or if you live in London, the BFI at Waterloo; I’ve seen old French and Swedish movies here and felt really refreshed afterwards. Another option is to grab a friend and go to an art exhibit.

If you’re unsure about heading out in public, there’s plenty of loftiness to get on with at home. For me, home is about opportunities for uninterrupted reading. When was the last time you turned off your phone, shut down your laptop and switched off the TV in order to just read? Exactly. And part of the loftiness – the very aspect that will make you feel good afterwards – is the challenge that you’ll inevitable face when you start. Your focus will waver, you’ll reach for your phone…but after a while, you’ll get into your book and before you know it, you’ll be glowing with self-contentment. Of course, you’re not getting stuck into a celeb gossip magazine, or chick lit – this is an evening to choose a piece of proper literature. My big goal, during my year of the Man Diet, was to read War and Peace. This might sound a bit too daunting – there’s no need to choose something quite as epic – but the more high-brow you go, the better it’ll feel during and after you read. Every time I felt low or unloved or needy, I’d dip in and feel instantly better to be confronted with the problems of Prince Andrew, Natasha and the Napoleonic wars, rather than the fact that some bloke hadn’t turned out to be what I had hoped.

At the end of the day, doing something lofty is about celebrating that – single or no – you have a brain and it’s part of what makes you fabulous. Using it is the best way to remember and enjoy that fact, and will cause your self-esteem to soar, in a way that moping around on V-Day watching sappy films – or going out and getting trashed with friends – won’t.

by Zoe Strimpel. To read more of Zoe’s dating advice, check out her new book, The Man Diet: One woman’s quest to end bad romance, available on Amazon now at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Man-Diet-womans-quest-romance/dp/1847563058.