Overwhelmed by the weight of the pandemic, many people turned to social media last year as a way of finding hope.
Instead, however, 2022 introduced to us a new, stealthy trend: toxic positivity.
If you haven’t heard of it already, toxic positivity thrives from the idea that people just need to “think positive,” and all their dreams will come true.
The concept pushes aside any and all negative feelings in favor of a “positive mindset” and a “positive space.” This, however, isn’t sustainable, nor realistic.
While thinking “positive thoughts” might automatically seem easy to some, it doesn’t recognize the deeper human experience – that negative or more difficult emotions are often more helpful for us to grow as humans.
By opening ourselves up and welcoming complex emotions — positive, negative, and in between — we learn to confront and challenge ourselves for the better.
If we, however, decide to shield these complex emotions with overly positive ones, we create a filtered version of how we feel and who we are.
It’s important, then, to recognize the power of being real, messy emotions and all. Whether it be frustration, anger, or grief, accepting your feelings is the first step to accepting yourself.
Without further ado, below are 5 ways to heal and detox from 2022’s toxic positivity trend and enter 2023 as a more open-hearted person.
Embrace Your Emotions
Allow yourself to sit with any and all emotions that you’re feeling in the current moment, even the bad ones.
Are you stressed? Are you hungry? Are you excited? Acknowledge and validate each of your emotions, even if they seem like a confusing mix of everything.
It’s also important that you don’t judge yourself or anyone else for how you feel. Sometimes, you just need to feel how you feel and recognize it.
If you’re struggling a bit, try a meditation app or podcast to help focus and settle your mind.
Put Away Your Phone
I know it might seem ridiculous, but putting away or even turning off your phone for at least a few hours is one of the best ways to detox from toxic positivity.
Since the trend stems from social media, you’re bound to scroll through social media influencers or ads demanding that you just “think positive.”
The mounds of toxic positivity posts are enough to make you feel bad about yourself, so just turn it off!
If you truly can’t control yourself, you can lock your social media apps for a set time.
Your best friend’s Instagram post can wait!
Express Yourself in a Healthy Way
2022 was the year of starting (or returning to) new hobbies.
Whether it be growing your own garden, learning a new language, or baking up a storm, there are now hundreds for you to choose from.
What’s important, though, is that you fix your eyes and hands on something that allows you to ground yourself and take time off from your blue light screen.
It’s perfectly fine if you learn that you’re not particularly good at your hobby in the beginning.
If the cookies don’t come out right the first time, take a step back. Feel your feelings. Breathe. Refocus on the task. It doesn’t need to be perfect.
What matters is that you stay in touch with yourself and with your feelings.
This past year, we either spent too much time with ourselves, our families, our friends, or our significant others.
Some of us might have struggled with a lack of privacy, while others felt weighed down by overwhelming loneliness.
An unprecedented mental health crisis has been on the rise, partly due to the pandemic, so it’s important to recognize the struggle and work it out.
Just by signing up for one therapy session, you’re actively deciding to designate a space to prioritize yourself.
Even more so, a trained, professional therapist can serve as a voice of reason to point out things you might not have seen in yourself.
Just by talking it out and feeling your feelings, you can learn to grow from the struggles of your experiences.
It’s finally time to bust out that pretty journal or old notebook that’s been lying around and write!
While it might be easy to just open up the Notes app on your laptop and type it all, it’s been scientifically proven that writing with pen and paper can be more grounding and help you remember it more.
So schedule at least ten minutes to sit with your thoughts and write it all down.
If you’re struggling, there are hundreds of reflection prompts online that you can choose from.
If not, feel free to just free-write how you’re feeling in the current moment: what you’re worried about, what you’re grateful for, what you’re excited for.
Don’t attach any weight or judgment to what you write — this is for you and you only.
The year, 2022 has taught us that the power and impact of collective feelings can easily stand out.
We’ve all experienced a myriad of complex emotions together — anger at injustice, anxiety over the pandemic, and grief over all the people and things we’ve lost.
It’s important, then, that we don’t filter or shame those feelings. Feelings are what make us human.
As we move into 2023, let us enter the year with a greater sense of empathy not only for each other but for ourselves as well.
We wish you all a happy, full-of-feelings new year!
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