OPINION: Be honest about your situation and feelings to improve mental wellbeing - Sophie Mei Lan

“Today is a new day!”

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 11:45 am

While my house is scattered in positive affirmations, I practice daily gratitude and see all of life’s challenges as an opportunity to learn...eventually! It’s important we are neither falsely positive or consistently negative.

There are many ways we can help our mental wellbeing by being real and honest about our situation and then progressing to feeling more optimistic.

I have seen ‘toxic positivity’ banded around social media in light of the latest lockdown and at first, I was worried. Was that me? I try to rephrase my language and I have “a glass half full” approach to life most days... was I now part of a negative toxic brigade?

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

When researching more, I realised toxic positivity is about being overtly positive in every situation and breathed a sigh of relief.

Toxic positivity, similar to the term toxic productivity, both are largely, dare I say, positive terms overall, but when they’re toxic it means we use them to cover up and mask an internal feeling or a circumstance we find ourselves in, whether that be toxic productivity i.e. the pressure of always being productive no matter what, or toxic positivity, an avoidance technique, where we say “I am all good vibes only” instead of being honest and saying “I am really struggling today.”

Or if someone else shares they have an issue and we negate their feelings rather than actively listening and, instead we dismiss them by saying “look on the bright side.”

If we avoid what we feel or gloss over challenges, then this may lead to further problems and negative coping strategies. But there are ways we can authentically use self-help techniques to help our own wellbeing with the outcome eventually being honestly positive. First of all, we have to accept that there are a lot of things out of our control and then whatever situation we are in, express our thoughts whether it be creatively or conversationally and above all, we need to ‘feel what we need to feel.’ Mindfulness is a great grounding technique to give our brains some space when we feel overwhelmed.

Once we have truly acknowledged our feelings, it’s time to begin to take action, ask for help or support someone to do so and take back positive control, identifying areas in our life where we do have a choice.

To begin our action plan, it starts with us. I found it hard to hear when someone told me “the most important person in your life is yourself.” I struggled with that but on reflection, how we manage our own wellbeing is paramount. We cannot serve from an empty vessel and we cannot fulfil our true potential without taking care of ourselves.

We can start with small steps such as reducing our exposure to triggers which can negatively impact our thoughts, because then we may behave in a certain way. Then gradually incorporate daily practices which gently nudge us forward no matter what situation we find ourselves in such as exercising each day, eating and sleeping as well as possible. These daily wins can help motivate us to feel more positive and help to focus us on what we can do rather than what we can’t. But most of all, we are perfectly imperfect, so being kind to ourselves through self-care and adjusting our journey in life as we go is essential to our mental wellbeing and genuine feel-good factor.

Read More

Read More