Feeling sad, stressed or angry? Check out these 5 tips
For the last several years, Gallup has conducted the Global Emotions Report to gauge people’s emotions around the globe. The 2018 report, which uses data gathered from 154,166 people from 140 countries in 2017, showed the prevalence of negative emotions has reached a new high.
Dr. Gabrielle Roberts, a clinical psychologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill., says it’s hard to know what has caused the rise of negative emotions, and that the reasons likely vary from place to place.
“There certainly is a lot of unrest and hardship across the globe right now,” she says. “The Gallup report cites violence and instability in many countries as primary sources of negative emotions. I also think that it’s possible a small part of the rise in the reporting of negative emotions may be related to a shift in some cultures, albeit a minority, where people feel more at ease acknowledging and discussing emotions.”
More survey respondents reported feeling negative emotions like worry, stress, sadness, anger or physical pain on the day prior to taking the survey than they have in years past. While negative emotions appear to be on the rise globally, which forced the overall positive-experience global average to dip slightly, about 70 percent of adults worldwide reported that they experienced “a lot of enjoyment, smiled or laughed a lot, felt well-rested and felt treated with respect” the day prior to taking the survey. Dr. Roberts is not surprised to find that while negative emotions were more prevalent globally than in years past, a high percentage of adults still reported experiencing positive emotions, as well.
“Humans are emotionally complex, and our daily lives are filled with many experiences and feelings — often changing from moment to moment. Even people who are experiencing a lot of sadness and stress can, and often do, have moments of laughter or happiness,” says Dr. Roberts.
Both positive and negative emotions will always be present in our lives. Events around the globe, in our communities, in our families and even within ourselves can exacerbate either set of emotions in adults as well as children. Over the past several years, Dr. Roberts says she has seen many children struggling with a host of troubling emotions, including sadness and worry and children who are struggling to enjoy their day-to-day lives. She’s seen parents experiencing these issues, too. While the prevalence of negative emotions seems to be increasing, Dr. Roberts noted that there is less stigma around seeking help for mental health and that more people are engaging in services, which could account for higher percentage of negative emotions being reported.
“Overall, kids in the U.S. do seem to be carrying around more stress than they used to. We see the broad impact of this in the rise of teen suicide rates and rising rates of depression and anxiety,” says Dr. Roberts.
Throughout our lives, negative emotions will inevitably surface. Keep the below tips in mind the next time you experience them:
- Slow down. Dr. Roberts says these days, many people tend to be overscheduled and try to do too much, which leads to feeling overwhelmed. “We try so hard to make sure we aren’t missing anything that we are often missing out on happiness,” says Dr. Roberts. There will always be hectic days, but if you’re feeling like it’s a struggle to “keep up” every day, it could be a sign that it’s time to make some changes and cut an activity or commitment out. “If you can’t find the time for some fun and relaxation each day, then you’re definitely too busy,” says Dr. Roberts.
- Schedule fun time. Once you’ve blocked off some free time, take the extra effort to plan something fun to do. Try to schedule an enjoyable activity for yourself each day. “This could be something small like a bubble bath, chatting with a friend or finding a quiet time to read a book,” says Dr. Roberts. “In addition to individual time, parents can work to schedule family activities like a game night or night out at a favorite restaurant.”
- Embrace imperfection. “Recognize that you are not perfect and that you’re going to make mistakes,” says Dr. Roberts. “Emphasize effort over results, and be kind to yourself when things don’t go as planned.” When trying to make change, focus on things that you can have an impact on versus those outside of your control.
- Be active. Exercise is a huge mood booster. “It has been shown to combat stress, enhance mood, improve sleep (which also helps with mood) and bolster self-esteem,” says Dr. Roberts. Remember, you don’t have to be a triathlete to benefit from the power of endorphins released when exercising. Just get out there and move!
- Indulge your passions. Participating in activities outside of school or work offers us the opportunity to be social, develop new skills and to feel good about ourselves. “We benefit as individuals when we are well-rounded,” says Dr. Roberts. Be sure to invest time in a hobby, art form, sport or any extracurricular activity that brings you joy.
About the Author
Colette A. Harris, health enews contributor, is the public affairs and marketing coordinator at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Il. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and has nearly a decade of experience writing about health and wellness, which are her passions. When she’s not writing, you can find her practicing yoga, cooking, reading, or traveling.