Is It OK to Have Good Days During the Pandemic?
It’s safe to say we’re experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions, courtesy of COVID-19.
Some days are bad, some days are meh. But once in a blue moon, there’s an elusive good day that sneaks up and shakes up our pandemic routines...and it can feel weird to experience.
When a lot is uncertain and the world is struggling because of coronavirus, having a personal good day might feel wrong, or even cause you to experience guilt.
But it’s important to give yourself permission to savor those moments of joy, even in the face of a pandemic. In fact, it’s important to celebrate moments of joy during times like these.
“Broadly speaking, optimism and happiness can increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can help maintain a positive mood,” Krystal Lewis, Ph.D., a psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health, tells Shine. “Small joys each day help boost our mood and increase resilience.”
Plus, it impacts your physical health too.
"Being able to adopt a positive perspective often leads to improvement in mental health," Lewis says. "And gratitude has been linked to optimism and overall happiness, improved mood, and even stronger immune systems."
But if you’re not sure how to navigate the conflicting feelings of good and guilt, you’re not alone.
Here are some things to keep in mind during this pandemic and the good days that might come despite the unknown.
There’s No Right Or Wrong Way To Feel
Whether your good day is determined by crossing that one thing off your to-do list or just by being kind to yourself, it’s important to remember that what a "good day" looks like for you might be different than someone else, and that’s OK.
Equally important is the idea that you can’t experience good without also having compassion for those around you who might not be having a good day.
“It may feel self-serving or selfish when we have an enjoyable day and 'forget' about all the suffering and pain that so many are experiencing, but you can remind yourself that just because you have a good day and feel happy doesn’t mean that you don’t have compassion for those who may be struggling,” Lewis says.
‘Good’ Looks Different for Everyone
“Generally, feeling as though you had a good day likely means you had a good night’s rest, so your body is feeling refreshed, and that you focused on your physical health, which includes eating well and being active," Lewis says. "All of these things help to increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin and improve mood."
While that’s a general recipe for a good day, it’s important to also navigate what a good day looks like for you personally.
Maybe it’s cooking a new recipe, going for a walk, or spending some quality time with your crossword puzzle book. Whatever it is, find the ingredients for your personal good day and use that information to create more moments of positivity.
“To have a good day does not necessarily mean that you were on top of everything; rather, it usually means something went well that was important to you, you had a fun time doing something you enjoy, or you reconnected to a family member or friend who helped you to reminisce about good times,” Lewis says.
Reflection Is Your Friend Right Now
Reflecting on how you feel and accepting those emotions regardless of what they look like is so crucial right now. “Telling yourself that ‘you shouldn’t feel this way’ or trying to push away the feeling can be draining,” Lewis says. “Label the emotion when you feel it, allow yourself to experience it for a period, and then move on and engage in an activity that brings you joy.”
Sitting with those emotions can also help you move forward and ultimately shake any guilt you might be feeling.
By asking yourself questions to get to the root of any feelings of guilt, you might be able to switch up your self-talk and show yourself grace.
Lewis suggests asking yourself things like: Is there a narrative that I’m telling myself that isn’t helpful? Am I comparing myself to others? Do I feel like I don’t deserve to feel happy?
Don’t forget that through this all, approach your feelings as if you were talking to a friend. Extend yourself the same compassion you would for anyone else.
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