Nowadays, there’s perpetual pressure to be cheery all the time (insert smiley-face emoji). But it’s also important to totally own your sucky feelings.
Watching your friends embellish their Facebook feeds, as they burst with love, celebrate #LoveWins, and share #BestTimeEver group photos, just confirms that social media is a #HappyPlace. And by that, we mean deliberately happy.
This embellished approach can be seen IRL, too: every time someone asks how it’s going, and you respond with a ‘Great!’, when you really want to just lie on the floor in the foetal position and sob! “When someone admires your cheerful response, they’re not admiring your reality,” says Canada-based psychologist Randy Paterson. “This reinforces the sense that if they knew the real you, they would reject you.”
This also encourages you to curate out the bad stuff—break-ups, financial woes, bad hair days—leaving behind a lot of insincere smiles. When you mask or deny feelings of sadness, fear, anger, anxiety, or disappointment, you’re missing out on a crucial behavioural guidance system that could have resulted in action. For example, that feeling in the pit of your stomach each morning could be a subtle clue that it’s time to change careers. Or, being lonely in a relationship could offer important hints as to what you really want from a partner. “To learn from negative emotions, you have to first recognise what you’re feeling,” says New York-based positive-psychology coach Kayleigh Pleas. If you can name it, you can tame it. “By breaking the endlessly upbeat cycle, you’re actually doing not just yourself, but everyone a favour,” says Randy.
6 Tips for Self-Care
LEARNING TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF WILL HELP BOOST YOUR WELL-BEING
Obviously. But being sleep-deprived can seriously affect your mood, for the worse. It’s important to switch off and rest both your mind and body.
Relax, Physically, and Mentally
Taking a ‘Mental Health Day’ off work is becoming increasingly common worldwide, and there’s a reason: taking leave for a day to recollect your thoughts is important for de-stressing.
And not just via Instagram. Be as social as you can, when it’s safe again. If it sounds daunting to put yourself out there, it could be an indication that you need some face-to-face time with loved ones.
Do Something You Love
Keeping your mind occupied with something that brings you joy is a great way to practise mindfulness, which is perfect for overcoming negative thoughts.
Speak Up, and Ask For Help
Reaching out for help is a good first step. Talking to a friend or a professional about your feelings can diffuse your anxiety.
Exercising (safely) has been proven to assist with blood pressure, and helps manage cortisol levels (which, when increased, can lead to depression).