At SELF we have written a lot about how important it is to relax a bit now, whether that means minimizing the word "should" throughout your day or finding little ways to smile. We know that the new coronavirus pandemic has changed everyday life significantly. Before the pandemic, it was a little easier to analyze the difference between a random bad mood and concrete stressors, but things could be a lot more confusing now. Wading through this darkness, I came to the following conclusion: I'm not always interested in being cheered up, and that's fine.
A few weeks ago I was wiping around when someone I worshiped recommended an audiobook on happiness that raised my spirits. Books and other resources that are supposed to improve my quality of life are not foreign to me. But for some reason I just didn't feel it.
When someone tries to cheer me up, I usually try to allow it. At least I thank you for the concern. But that day, when I was sitting in my bed, the first thing I said was, "I'm not overwhelmingly interested in being inspired now." Then I added a ::: shrug ::: emoji.
Before I explain why this was the best idea I've had all week, I'd like to say the obvious: Finding ways to lift your mood and challenge anxious thoughts as they emerge is immensely valuable . I do not advocate that you refuse to help and commit yourself to misfortune indefinitely. But in the harsh light of the pandemic, platitudes like "everything will work" may not offer the same comfort. A TED lecture on the science of happiness could feel like pressure you don't need. What has become more helpful (for me at least) is the shift from trying to feel better to processing my experience. I find it helpful to say, "It happens, I'm not excited about it, so I'm going to sit a little bit in my feelings." As someone who has a lot of mental health support (including a survival plan that involves contacting my therapist for severe mental anguish), I'm not intimidated by my bad mood. They don't last forever, so I gave myself one (as a reward).
I cannot guarantee that this will be helpful for everyone. Nor can I guarantee that the person on the other end of your "No thanks" will accept it like my person. Though telling someone that you're not interested in positivity right now may sound dramatic, it was actually one of the nicest things I could do for myself. I gave up the need to perform. This is important because all emotions that you are feeling ̵
If you're intrigued by this option but give up striving to be in a good mood feels scary, or you're a little worried that if you try, you can find yourself in a deeper sadness. You can give yourself a time limit. Take a break to curl up for a few hours or a few days. Or take a deep breath and tell the people in your life what you need when happy book recommendations or nudges to (surely) "get outside" feel a little flat. And if your bad mood feels like something that can't really shake you worrying, it is perfectly fine to change your mind and try out the suggestion that your loved one offered to contact a friend or family member, to talk to each other. or contact a healthcare provider for assistance.