Loathe it or hate it; being single on the biggest lovey-dovey day of the year can just plain stink.

For singles, says Dr. Laura Brown, a psychologist and professor at Argosy University in Seattle, "It’s just another day of the year."

It can be a day to celebrate love, but it can also celebrate individuality.

"If you define your well-being or worth in terms of your couple status, then you’re going to miss what’s important about yourself," Brown said.

Besides, if you’re single, you’re not the only one. According to the Census Bureau, more than 13 million Americans, ages 25 to 34, have never been married. An additional 7 million Americans between 35 and 44 are in the same boat.

"You shouldn’t be defining yourself as one day of the year, or your marital status," she said.

But if you know Feb. 14 is going to bother you, there are healthy ways to deal it.

The first step is to remember how much money you’re saving by not going out to a fancy meal, or buying candy, jewelry, flowers or cards.

Second, Brown says to remember that not all couples are happy. And she would know – she counsels dozens of men and women frustrated with their partners.

Then do something for yourself or with other singles who share a similar healthy attitude that there is nothing wrong with being single.

Plan something now. Brown has a few ideas:

Schedule time just for yourself doing the thing you love best.

Get together with a group of single friends and have a party, but keep it relaxed without hookup pressure.

Relax with your favorite book, movie or hobby. But don’t read magazines or watch romantic movies that will remind you that you’re single.

Pamper yourself with a massage, manicure or warm bath.

Get some exercise – it will make you feel good about yourself.

Go ice skating, skiing or head out for another favorite winter activity. Sometimes an indoor pool hall, bowling alley or arcade will work, too.

Volunteer to help less-fortunate individuals.

But most importantly, take control of your mental health by planning something that reminds you of your worth and value.

© 2004, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.