Learning to make space for both positive and negative moods and thoughts in order to move forward in 2021.
A summary of the podcast with Carol Gelbard, LCSW and NDF Emotional Wellness Director
How do we hit the reset button for the New Year? I want to get rid of the negativity and how do I get to a better state mentally in 2021?
Before we can do a reset, it is important to recognize that you can have both positive and negative moods and they can co-exist and influence mood simultaneously.
In order to make space for both positive and negative moods, I encourage you to reflect on the high and low moments of 2020 by exploring what you learned about yourself, what you found challenging and also what you appreciated. By making space for the negative moods, you are allowing yourself to have your feelings, process and work through difficult emotions and know that you won’t get stuck in a pit of despair. By giving yourself permission to feel the feelings, you can then move forward and examine the positives such as the highlights and the silver linings.
When you can identity the activities, events and experiences that bring you joy, you can then be more mindful in finding ways to incorporate them into your daily lives and create pathways for emotional wellness. We can start exploring a mindset of “how we thrive” instead of “how we survive”, especially in the midst of waiting for a curative treatment for GNEM and/or the end of the pandemic.
What can we do to thrive in the meantime? How do we work on focusing on the positive?
I believe it is helpful to identify your mood boosters. What activities do you enjoy and look forward to doing? How do you incorporate these mood boosters and pleasurable activities into your daily living? I think it is important to make a list of these mood boosters and make it accessible, so you can easily locate it when you are in need of a mood boost. It is very hard to think about what might elevate your mood when you are feeling stuck or grumpy.
I also encourage you to put these activities on your calendar, so that you make sure you reserve the time do them. If you have a hard time thinking of types of mood boosters, you can do some crowd sourcing in your community. You can ask others, maybe on social media, what activities they have found pleasurable that help lift their spirits? They can be quick mood boosts or longer mood boosts. Sometimes the anticipation and excitement of looking forward to these joyous activities can elevate your mood.
I encourage you to make a mental note of the activities, throughout the day, that improve your mood, so that you can create your own personalized list of a variety of mood boosters.
Some of the mood boosters/pleasurable activities that were identified by GNEM patients in the last patient HUDDLE included; celebrating milestone birthdays, looking forward to the birth of first grandchild, looking at pretty things (virtual museums, photos), lighting scented candles, watching comedies, being outdoors and exploring nature, going to dog parks, having pets to snuggle with, talking to friends, reading a good book, listening to music, cooking, drinking ginseng tea, enjoying one’s morning coffee, playing games, and spending more quality time with family members. Just by sharing one’s mood boosters, patients’ moods shifted; they were smiling, laughing and engaging with more spontaneity and ease. Even though this might seem somewhat simple and obvious, we do know that making time and scheduling these mood boosting activities can really help lift our spirits, so we feel recharged and hopefully better equipped to manage future challenges.
So, moving forward in 2021, let’s remember that the presence of negative does not mean the absence of the positive. It’s okay to be sad, don’t fight it, work your way through it and schedule something fun to do later!
Carol Gelbard, LCSW
Emotional Wellness Director
Neuromuscular Disease Foundation