Needless to say, people are feeling strange and emotional with everything happening this year. Depending on the spread of corona virus in the area where you live, you might have lots of restrictions in terms of gathering with others. These restrictions come after a year of significant loss, change, worry and fear. They come at a time when we want to celebrate together, share food, laugh and enjoy each other’s company.
It is difficult to maintain a positive attitude as the pandemic carries on and we have limited access to our usual social supports. When we are going through a difficult time, we won’t naturally turn to things that will make us feel better. In fact, we are likely to turn towards the things that make us feel worse in the long run. For example, when we are feeling sad, we might turn to sugary foods or alcohol to try and feel better. Or, if we are angry, we might want to lash out and behave in ways that harm ourselves and others. What we really need when are feeling bad inside is to turn towards the few things that can give us emotional and mental relief. Going for the good will require going against your instinct and pushing yourself in a way that perhaps you have never pushed yourself before.
How does this translate into real life? First and foremost, you have to recognize when you feel emotionally crappy. Things that make us feel this way: conflict with someone you care about, a feeling of falling short at work or facing rejection. There are countless situations that occur that make us feel bad and unworthy of love. If we can recognize the signs when we are feeling terrible, we can actually do something about it.
What is your usual behaviour after a bad day? Do you go for the cookies? Do you open a bottle of wine and drink it all by the end of the night? Asking yourself the question: what do I turn to after a bad day? This question should be asked with compassion for the human experience. We are all trying to survive and any habits we have developed are adaptive. They may harm us in the long run but we do them because we are trying to feel better. You are not a failure for trying to deal with crappy feelings with unhealthy habits.
If you were ever a fan of Seinfeld, perhaps you will remember the episode when the character George Costanza decided that he would do the exact opposite of his instincts. When he did this, he suddenly had success with women, at his job and he was feeling confident. We could use a similar approach to turn to the good things instead of the bad when we are hurting. When we notice that we are having a bad moment, if we choose something different than our usual habits, it will help us tremendously. It will help because we don’t have to deal with the added guilt of making poor choices.
Choose the quick walk outside. Choose taking a few extra deep breaths. Choose a drink of water. Choose the opposite of what you would normally do after a bad day. Try it and see if it has an impact in the long run…