A Guide for Mental Wellbeing
When we’re feeling drained, we often resort to conserving energy by reducing our activities to the bare necessities. Instead of doing what usually fills us with joy such as enjoying hobbies or even having a coffee date with friends, exploring our city, and being creative—we settle for easy options that require minimal effort from us; binge-watching shows, sleeping in late, and other supposedly ‘restful’ activities.
Unknowingly, we confine our lives, resulting in a lack of socialization and zest. This isolation leads to us being more lethargic; thus reducing the amount of activity we partake in to retain energy, yet this just leaves us feeling worse than before. Additionally not prompting stimulation or ambition, life can become dull and uninspiring unless action is taken!
This cycle of negative feedback is known as a “downward spiral.” When we are emotionally disturbed, it becomes instinctual to indulge in coping methods that only escalate the feeling of distress; By avoiding activities that could potentially bring pleasure and restore energy, we unknowingly fuel this destructive reaction. Our lack of awareness contributes to an overwhelming sense of helplessness.
To escape a rut that is caused by burnout, we have to engage in activities that bring us joy, even when we feel least inspired. This can provide us with the energy and motivation needed to break out of the downward spiral. I like to call it the joy paradox.
Halt the destructive downward spiral by creating a positive feedback loop that can break it apart and trigger an upward surge. All you need are small moments of joy to set off this chain reaction. Studies have proven that when we’re in an advantageous mood, our peripheral vision becomes even more attentive to opportunities for further delight – so just like how continued negative behavior deepens into depression, continual optimistic actions will leave us feeling ultimately elated!
If you’ve learned to cope with the pressure of stress and burnout by pushing yourself beyond your limits and sacrificing moments of joy, there are a few signs that can help identify this behavior. To better understand how you may be responding to such situations, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you prone to postponing joyous occasions during times of hardship?
- Do you struggle to stay in the moment with your loved ones?
- Do you ever find yourself with a free hour and think of it as an opportunity to catch up on unfinished tasks instead of taking a break or doing something enjoyable?
- Do you often find yourself scrolling on the couch at night, too tired to engage in anything else?
- Do you feel like your pleasure is undeserved if you haven’t accomplished every single task on your checklist?
- Have you ever felt a sense of trepidation after experiencing good fortune, as if something negative was just around the corner?
- Are you feeling discouraged by the current state of affairs, making it difficult to see a bright future ahead?
With more yeses than noes, it’s worth looking at the upside of bringing small doses of delight into your day-to-day life. Start small by dedicating five minutes to something that brings you joy when feeling overwhelmed or stressed. If nothing springs to mind immediately, ask yourself what made you smile in a busy moment or which activities give you energy rather than draining it. You may be surprised at how much brighter each day can feel with even just a few moments dedicated solely to enjoyment!