Let’s face it, life is not always a walk in the proverbial park. Sometimes it’s hard, frightening and filled with a lot of bad news – need we mention climate change, a global pandemic and the extinction of the humble honeybee. One can understand the need for positivity. But too much of a good thing can end up being a bad thing. These days, there is a lot of pressure to turn that frown upside down, even when you’re feeling like you can’t. This inclination towards perpetual ‘sun-shininess’ has a name: it’s called toxic positivity – and it’s belittling our natural responses to feeling down.
While we’re not suggesting that everyone settle down in a communal pit of despair, we are saying that those negative emotions have their place, and that they need to be felt and dealt with. This may reduce the chances of any long term effects from bottling up or suppressing such emotions.
We all know people – be it friends, family, or peers – who tell us to, “stay positive”, “count your blessings” or have “positive vibes only”, when we’re feeling bleak. These pick-me-up one-liners are intended to ease our pain (occasionally they do), but most of the time, they end up being a badly applied plaster on a gaping emotional wound.
When these wallpaper expressions are doled out, it can leave us feeling unheard, uncared for or even shamed. Positivity can turn toxic when we begin to feel:
Mental health isn’t about being happy every minute of every day. A good mindset integrates the positive and the negative. It acknowledges that whole human beings need to feel and express their negative emotions in order to avoid greater distress, which could manifest as rage, insomnia, weight loss or gain, substance abuse, depression and/or anxiety.
So, what we’re trying to say is that toxic-positivity hacks us off (see, already sharing our negative emotions more freely), which is why we’ve decided to post a few tips on how to deal with it:
If you’ve ever felt a little down in the dumps, you’ll know that, a lot of the time, you just want to be heard. So, make sure you’re really listening if an unhappy friend asks you to be a sounding board.
Bestmed covers chronic medication for major depression on plans Beat4, Pace1, Pace2, Pace3, Pace4 and Pulse2 plans.
Bestmed has also partnered with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) to offer members a free 24-hour mental health helpline, with the aim to support members who are experiencing mental health issues.