I don’t always come up with New Year’s resolutions, though I like to use this transitional period as an opportunity to reflect on lessons and goals. Through my counseling practice, I encourage my clients to do the same. Many of the moms I know are looking for ways to alleviate their negative emotions like sadness or anxiety. These are some strategies I like to use.
As a mental health provider, I am CBT-oriented, which means I help clients adjust their Cognitive distortions (negative thinking patterns that aren’t based on facts but rather assumptions our minds make) and modify their Behaviors through talk Therapy.
One effective and accessible practice is shifting your interpretation of an event that makes you feel negative to a more neutral one. For example, you may feel excluded from a dinner a group of friends attended; a neutral interpretation of the event is that no one intentionally meant to hurt your feelings, and you’ll be at the next one that works for your schedule.
Fellow social worker Brené Brown describes this as the assumption of positive intent in her bestselling book Dare to Lead. Give it a try – you’ll probably feel a lot lighter!
I totally understand that some days can feel mundane or tough. But even on those days, I think it’s important to acknowledge moments that bring us joy, even small ones. Research confirms that when we practice gratitude, we tend to feel more positive emotions, fully appreciate good experiences, and have stronger relationships.
Consider a regular journaling practice in which you record something you were grateful for that day, whether a delicious meal, a hug from your kiddo, or a conversation with a friend in which you laughed. Or try a guided gratitude meditation – many are available on my favorite mindfulness platform, Pause to be Present (co-founded by Westchester moms from Larchmont and Edgemont, with a brick-and-mortar studio in Scarsdale).
One of my favorite coaching and therapeutic tools is self-compassion, in which we can combat negative self-talk by talking to ourselves the way we would a friend. You deserve to be nice to yourself! Reminding yourself, “I am exactly where I need to be right now,” while putting your kids to bed, even if you have work emails in your inbox, can help you feel more grounded and less stressed.
A positive mindset is not just about viewing things through rose-colored glasses (though I do love anything pink!). Negative emotions like disappointment or anger are normal and part of the human experience. But being consumed by negativity is no good. Instead, let’s be empowered by positivity.
Numerous studies show that a positive outlook, which we have control over and can practice to strengthen, improves our physical health, promotes resilience, and enables us to live according to our values. So, cheers to a positive and Happy New Year!