Stress over the past year’s events, including the pandemic, presidential election, and racial tension, has threatened our nation’s mental health, particularly those from Generation Z (born after 1996) – kids, teens, and young adults, according to a recent national survey from the American Psychological Association.
After a year of turmoil, you may not be in the mindset that you want to be. It may seem hard to be happy when there is still much uncertainty and a lack of normality. And, if you have kids, they may be feeling a little “off” too.
Ways to replace bad feelings with hope
First, it’s essential to know that you’re not alone and that your emotions are normal. It’s also important to remember that each new day presents a fresh opportunity for being better, no matter how bad things are.
Have self-compassion. Self-compassion is an important concept that we don’t hear a lot about and one that most of us don’t practice enough. Both kids and adults need self-compassion, especially now. The first step to having self-compassion is by accepting your thoughts and feelings without shame or guilt. These feelings do not need to define you.
It’s also essential to recognize that you, in your current situation, are special and great now. And if you have kids, it’s important to let them know that they’re great just for being themselves. Parents often say things like, “keep trying and you’ll do great” to help motivate and encourage their kids. While it’s ok to do this sometimes, parents should also let their kids know that they are already great. For example, you can say something like, “You’re doing a great job at practicing, and I’m so proud of you.”
Think about the things that you CAN control. There may be some things that you can’t do that you’d like to do, but you still have control over much of your life. With an open mind, you still have the power to do things that make you happy. Do the things that make you feel good and let go of the ones that don’t. Remember, no one can take away your power to feel happy.
Establish personal goals. Establishing personal goals to help you achieve your dreams and improve your quality of life can be very beneficial. Ultimately, your personal goals should be ones that excite you, bring hope, and help you smile.
Here are some tips to help you create and achieve personal goals.
- Create goals that genuinely matter to you rather than those that you think will impress others.
- Make sure your goals are realistic. Consider the time and resources that it will take to achieve your ultimate goal. It’s important to give yourself a reasonable timeframe for completing the goals you set.
- Set smaller, milestone goals to help your bigger goals seem more attainable.
- Share your goals with someone you trust and who will provide motivation and accountability.
- Don’t give up. If you find yourself going backward versus forward in achieving your goal, consider making adjustments to your plan that will help you get back on track.
Practice self-care. Self-care is important for everyone – and can mean different things to different people. Ultimately, it’s choices that we deliberately make to move us forward in a positive way. This may include:
- Ensuring a healthy work/life balance
- Follow-up with medical care and annual exams
- Practice relaxation exercises and meditation
- Journaling feelings
- Exercising (choosing a form that you enjoy)
- Not saying “yes” when you really want to say “no” (don’t overcommit)
Finally, always remember that your future is brimming with possibilities. Regardless of the things that may happen outside of your control, you have the power to have hope and be happy.
About the Author:
Danielle Matthew is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who helps adolescents, adults, couples and families who are in pain due to issues such as anxiety, severe stress, low self-esteem, or depression. With over 20 years of experience, Danielle authored Amazon Parenting Best-Seller, The Empowered Child: How to Help Your Child Cope, Communicate, and Conquer Bullying, and is the Director of The Empowerment Space Bullying Therapy Program in Los Angeles. Featured in Huffington Post and TODAY.com, Danielle has appeared on Fox, ABC and CBS Morning Shows and Mom Talk Radio, and is the expert contributor to Washington Post’s article: “Kids love to ‘roast’ each other. But when does good-natured teasing become bullying?”