The ‘good vibes only’ movement has proved to have both positive and negative effects. The concept of making the best of any and all scenarios and continuing to remain positive through being pummelled by the world sounds like a good lifestyle. Unfortunately, our human nature doesn’t allow this to happen. As simple as it’s written on paper it’s just not that easy and the pressure that it brings can have a toxic effect on our mental health.
What is toxic positivity?
Toxic positivity definitely made an appearance during each and every lockdown. Social media still ran at its usual pace and algorithms continued demanding new content regularly. This presented the internet with a lot of people continually competing to provide their audience with positivity. So not only was this incredibly taxing on the people creating the work, but also their audiences. Many of us sat at home scrolling through various social media channels began to feel negatively about our lives, forgetting that we were legally required to stay at home. When people and companies are sharing images and stories of activities that they were still doing, we were unable to distance ourselves from the real fact that we were doing as much as we could already.
“Toxic positivity is the assumption, either by one’s self or others, that despite a person’s emotional pain or difficult situation, they should only have a positive mindset or — my pet peeve term — ‘positive vibes,’”
Dr. Jamie Zuckerman, Healthline
No matter how hard each individual found being locked in their homes, the world appeared to still be moving in the online sphere. Multiple times a day there would be someone saying we should be staying strong, working to improve ourselves and we should remain positive. Now, this encouragement shouldn’t be disapproved, it definitely had its place and did help many, but, the problem happens when people can’t switch off from this and can’t allow themselves any downtime.
As humans, we have to have a balance of both positive and negatives. If we never experience any sadness then we can never truly appreciate happiness. No one is happy and positive 100% of the time and that’s okay.
‘It could be worse’
What most of us experienced was a complete upheaval of ‘normal’ life. Some lost jobs, some changed jobs, most couldn’t see their families and almost all saw a decline in their mental health. Toxic positivity was most frequently seen as the ‘it could be worse’ sentence. When feeling low and speaking to friends or family about something we’d lost because of the pandemic, it was met with the terms ‘you’ve still got a roof over your head’, ‘at least your safe and have your health’ or ‘you should feel lucky’. Although, yes, this could have been right and we should feel positive about these things, it didn’t address the low feeling and often made us come away from our phones feeling worse about our situation because we didn’t have anybody to talk to about it.
‘During the pandemic, a larger than average share of young adults (ages 18-24) report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder (56%).’
The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use, KFF
It’s normal to not be okay
It’s always been okay to have low days; we’re only human. Mental health wouldn’t be such a huge topic if it wasn’t part of everyone’s lives. The pandemic put a great deal of stress on everyone and it’s incomparable. What happened to you and what happened to a friend is completely different. Some people had a worse experience than others but that doesn’t invalidate your own experience. By constantly putting the pressure on that ‘we must find the best in this’ we did more damage than good. Taking a day or two because it was a hard time wasn’t a bad thing and shouldn’t be shied away from talking about.
If there is something we learnt from this or certainly understood the value of, it was that we have to look after our mental health and we can’t be positive all the time. We have to have days where we don’t accomplish as much (or anything at all!) but we allow ourselves to be with how we feel, understand it and build ourselves back up.
Routine was fundamental in keeping us motivated and bringing some normality to the weeks that unfolded into months. But, breaking routine once in a while can help on the lower days. If snoozing the alarm and having an extra hour in bed is going to give you a little more energy, then that’s better than a forced, ‘I have to do this’. One day isn’t going to ruin all your progress, it will be more beneficial.
Find a better place
If it’s all going wrong, you don’t feel great and you’re feeling frustrated, put everything away, walk away and find somewhere better to be. That could be heading out for a walk and some fresh air for a reset or it could even be indulging in a warm bath. Put you first and bathe in Vanilla Rose Bath Salts to nourish your body and help you unwind (it pairs beautifully with the Calm Candle!)
We know that aromatherapy is a practice that helps the health of the body, mind and spirit. On low days we might not want to work in this way but bringing a consistent ritual into our week can help us in the way we bounce back from those days. If you haven’t yet, check out our range of Essential Oil Blends which are perfect for beginners and experienced practitioners alike.
It sucks to have low days. But we have to remind ourselves that it happens. We are human, we have emotional responses to the things around us and the pandemic has been hard. Don’t let the positivity in the world turn into a negative for you. Don’t compare yourself to others and if one person’s opinion doesn’t sit right, don’t let it ruin your day. We’re still all in this together, look after yourself and remember it will be over one day.
Written by Remy Harman