During the current COVD-19 quarantine, there are a lot of articles, posts and videos on the power of positivity and the importance of mindfulness. This is all amazing and backed by lots of research on how to sustain mental well-being. However, when these messages of happiness during a time of intense stress are flooding your ears and your inbox, it can also have the opposite effect. If you happen to be feeling down or anxious, a video telling you to cheer up can make you feel like you’re doing something wrong, or even feel downright demeaning! The fact of the matter is that it is 100% ok to have feelings of beeing sad/mad/frustrated/stressed/worried/upset/etc. In fact, it is IMPORTANT to both feel and acknowledge these feelings. Humans are supposed to feel a variety of emotions so that we can respond to them by either taking action or learning a lesson from them. If you are feeling mad, take a moment and figure out why. Other than the obvious “COVID-19 situation,” what exactly is it that is making you upset at this moment when you perhaps weren’t feeling so upset 2 hours ago? Of course the quarantine is stressful, but what exactly is it about your situation right now that is stressing you out? Is there anything that can be done about it? Perhaps the situation cannot be fixed, but is there anything that can be done to proactively work toward improving it for you specifically?
This is the point where most wellness and mindfulness professionals will tell you to meditate, do yoga or breathe. And don’t get me wrong, those are amazing practices that DO in fact work to bring your heart rate and blood pressure down and thereby alleviate stress and tension. However, the benefits of these practices does not mean that they are necessarily right for YOU. In my years working in wellness, I have found there are MANY ways to achieve the “meditation effect” that do not include meditation. Here are some simple ideas to try when you are feeling anything other than “happy”:
- Run, jog, walk. Do any form of exercise.
- Be outside.
- Play with a pet or animal.
- Talk to a human being – on the phone works just as well as in person.
- Write, draw, paint. Be creative.
- Watch a movie.
- Throw dirt at your fence…hard!
- Kick a soccer ball.
- Bang on drums or piano, or just punch a pillow a few times.
- Take a shower.
These may not be conventional, and to be honest, they may not make you happy. But they will allow you to feel that emotion you are feeling, which is often all we really need – to be allowed to not be happy all the time.
By: Megan Wroe, MS, RD, CNE, CLEC