There is a lot of pressure put on the holidays of what they should be and feel like – they must be joyous and magical and a time for family. But the thing is, we can’t force happiness, and many people don’t have a traditional family setup. This year more than any other year the majority of people have had to adjust to a new way of doing the holidays, and that’s not easy. And for many people with mental health issues this is even harder, on top of the holidays often being a challenging time – for example with food relationships. So here’s a very short reminder that it doesn’t have to be a Merry Christmas, and a few affirmations to, hopefully, brighten up your day if you are struggling:
You deserve space if that’s what you need; your needs are worthy and important, even at Christmas
You are not alone, even if you feel it
Comparison can bring a lot of negative feelings to us, so remember that you don’t need to do it
You deserve to eat. Your body is an incredible thing, but you are so much more than it
It’s ok not to be ok
Your feelings are valid
This won’t last forever
You are so strong
You are so brave
You are magical
There is always good in the bad
I hope that all of you have the best time you can. Sending you all love and support this Christmas xx
This post is inspired by I note I made for my Instagram – @our.happy.notes – which read: ‘For me being positive doesn’t mean being happy or positive all the time, it means allowing myself to appreciate the moments that I do feel positive, and allowing the possibility of hope to exist’. I wrote it because being the inquisitive person I am and being active on social media brought the thought into my mind – what is positivity? What does positivity mean to me?
I’m a person that tends to find myself living in extremes. There either is or there isn’t. I am all or nothing. So with positivity and a mood disorder, I found that I either lived in a state of overwhelming optimist or complete lack of any positive thought at all. What I have found interesting, and beneficial to my mental health, is exploring the space in between. The idea that even in positive moments I can accept that it won’t last forever, and in the times where I lack such I can acknowledge that it doesn’t mean that positivity has disappeared.
I think sometimes even in well meaning spaces, there can be such a pressure to be positive and see the good in life. Unfortunately this simply isn’t possible all of the time, and when we put pressure on ourselves to feel one way or the other it can lead to us feeling even worse. The reality of the situation is that all emotions on the spectrum are valid. Yet the lack of positivity or hope in one moment does not mean it will never return; that it has ceased to exist. Nowadays this is something I like to remind myself – writing it out helps me to absorb it.
So, what is positivity to me? Positivity is not the blind belief in a bright future, but the acceptance of the fact that a bright future could exist. It is allowing the possibility of a good day for someone else happening, even if it isn’t for me. It is embracing the small, joyful things in life – the most minute parts of the world that make me a little less down, even if only for a moment. It is an intangible thing, an emotion, an idea – a beautiful prospect.
However I recognise that in moments we really can want to increase our positive thoughts and feelings in life. I am no expert on this, though I do have some tools that have helped me. In the morning I write down affirmations for the day – ‘Today can be a good day’, ‘I am enough’, etc. In the evening I write a gratitude list – ‘I have a roof over my head’, ‘someone smiled at me in the street’. I list the small things in life that bring me joy. I allow myself to dream wildly, but remind myself that whether or not these dreams materialise, I will be ok. I smile; sometimes I simply sit there and I smile. And when I feel that positivity is disappearing, that hope is waning, I repeat aloud and write on paper that they are not gone forever. These might seem a little silly, but they are some of the most healing things toward my mental health.
Sending love and support to anyone who needs it today!