Sanjana Pundru is a Happy2Thrive Writer and Volunteer
We all have those days when nothing seems wrong, but nothing seems right either. We all have those days when the world seems like it’s going against us. We all have those days where finally, something happens the way we wanted it to, but with all of the chaos that occurred in 2020, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic, the presidential election, all of the natural disasters, protests and notable celebrity deaths, it is common to feel like you are lost in an impossible, never ending cycle of struggle, uncertainty, and discomfort.
Over the course of the 10 months I spent at home, I have noticed that I am more inclined to feeling unmotivated, pessimistic, and overall not my highest, usual self. Upon reflecting, I also noticed that I always felt bad about feeling this way, as I believed that having such emotions and thoughts are invalid, and that I should remain optimistic, joyful, and my highest self at all times. Soon enough, I realized this constant force of pressure to always look, feel, and achieve our best can be overwhelmingly exhausting, on your mental, physical, and even emotional health.
Most of the time, we don’t even perform tasks for ourselves, but rather to satisfy our unappeasable, judgemental society. When was the last time you posted something, but instantly regretted it because you thought your friends found it weird? When was the last time you went out to run errands and rushed everything because you might run into someone familiar and you weren’t looking “cute”? I’m sure we all can come up with countless memories of those experiences, but in reality, it is these experiences that cause us the most stress, the most instability, and the most problems.
As we are heavily influenced in all sorts of ways to fit in and do the most, when things go wrong, we end up feeling terrible. Not only do we judge our actions, we judge ourselves, and sometimes even the ones around us. This takes a huge toll on our health, and we hurt ourselves even more by thinking we shouldn’t even be feeling this way, which is not true.
It is COMPLETELY OK to not feel your best! It is COMPLETELY OK to not be as productive as you planned to be! It is COMPLETELY OK if you take a day off for yourself! One of our greatest strengths is not realizing that you made a mistake, but rising up from it and making sure we don’t make the same mistake again. Similarly, feeling a certain way isn’t going to solve anything, but ACCEPTING your feelings as valid can definitely take you a long way. When you accept your feelings, you are acknowledging your thoughts and emotions rather than judging or pushing them away. Rather than beating ourselves up for all of our “moods”, here are some tips for emotional acceptance:
Write it out. One of the biggest things that has helped me and my mental health was keeping a daily journal where I can write whatever I want. This is an effective way to identify your feelings, because regardless if you simply jot down an overview of your day, or go into detail about a certain experience, writing everything out allows you to gather your thoughts in one area, making it easier to figure out how you truly feel. Further, writing your thoughts out is almost as if you are speaking to another person, and not to mention, you’ll have so much fun reading your old journal entries and you’ll realize how much happens each day that goes by unnoticed. You can do this digitally, with your Notes app or a Google Doc, or go old-school with a pen and paper!
Change your mindset. Our minds are our most valuable assets, and if we don’t use them correctly, they can use us. On that note, we actually suffer more in our minds than we do in reality. By changing your mindset, you can easily remove negative thoughts that cause us to deteriorate. Whenever we think negatively, we only affirm negativity, which leads to negative and undesired outcomes. A simple way to change your mindset is changing your view and perspective. For example, you can view the COVID-19 outbreak as something negative, because it cancelled so many of the events and opportunities you were looking forward to, you can’t do many of the day to day things you used to do, and it is so unpredictable. Or, you can view it under a positive light by thinking that this is a tremendous opportunity to improve yourself, because you may not get another chance like this again. With a new mindset, you will have new thoughts, which will give you new emotions, which have already been accepted in your new mindset.
Take breaks. You can only swim underwater for so long before swimming up again to breathe. Likewise, if you can’t handle something, take a break! When you take a break, you place your attention on something else, which is immensely beneficial because when you come back, you will notice an improvement and feel so much better. This is why many Youtubers and influencers do “social media detoxes”, because it has such a cleansing effect on the mind. Without the continual distraction from social media, you can focus on yourself with a peace of mind. As many of our issues stem from what we see on social media, taking a break lets you relax and refresh yourself in other areas. During breaks, you can also practice mindfulness, with yoga or meditation. Yoga and meditation have been proven to improve your quality of life mentally, physically, and emotionally, all of which will make you a better person and give you utmost control over your emotions.