With Mother’s Day approaching, and the yearly advertisements and social media posts that will come with it, some of us who have experienced the pain of wanting to be a mother may start having feelings of grief, depression, and even jealousy begin to crop up.
Complicating things this year is the social distancing we are all experiencing. In other years, if we were feeling down, we could escape to the movies, the beach, or to a friend’s house. This year, however, that may not be the case, as many states and cities have limited non-essential travel for the time being.
So, what to do with these feelings as they arise? How can we navigate this difficult holiday while the world feels so tumultuous at the same time?
Let the Emotions Come
We all have our own ways of dealing with feeling blue, angry, or depressed. Some of us binge on trashy television (any other Real Housewives fans out there?), others cook, and others like to exercise.
Whatever emotions arise for you during Mother’s Day (or in the days before or after), try to allow them to come to the surface rather than bury them. Engage in the activities that help you self-soothe, by all means, but your goal should be to process your emotions at the same time that you’re taking care of yourself.
In other words, try not to simply avoid those bad feelings by engaging in behaviors that could make you “shame spiral.” By staying present, by staying in the moment even when you’re not feeling so great, you’ll not only process your feelings faster, you’ll develop more emotional resiliency in general.
Consider A Break From Social Media
Have you ever heard the phrase “compare and despair”? It means, simply, that comparing your life to someone else’s can often lead to jealousy and feelings of hopelessness.
Why? For one, your life can never really be compared to another’s, because you’re both on different journeys and have come from different places.
But on social media, it’s very easy to compare the way you feel with the way someone else presents themselves. Or, to put it another way, it’s easy to compare your insides to their outsides.
If you’re constantly looking at pictures on Facebook or Instagram of other people and their families this Mother’s Day, be aware that it could provoke you into comparing your situation to theirs. Which can make for more icky feelings.
Develop A Gratitude Practice
When you read that headline, did you groan? Yes, it seems everywhere we turn these days someone is preaching about gratitude. But for a good reason: It’s an important tool for navigating difficult times.
Why? Because sometimes, when we feel deprived of something we feel we deserve, thinking of the things we do have helps to keep our lives in perspective.
If you’ve been hesitant about trying it for yourself, consider developing your own practice and seeing what works for you. Some suggestions include:
Each day, writing five things you’re grateful for in a private journal.
Taking 5-10 minutes in the morning to silently reflect on things you normally take for granted (e.g., your eyesight, your home, groceries).
Calling friends and family to see how they’re doing. (Yes, lending an ear is a form of showing others you’re grateful for them.)
Remember, developing gratitude is not about covering up your emotions. You can, and should, embrace whatever feelings come up as part of your healing process. Think of gratitude as an anchor to which you can cling when things feel out of control.
Yes, the world is going through some kind of shift right now, but you are okay in this moment, and that is worth something.
Especially on Mother’s Day.