Managing your expectations is important for your overall mental well-being. But, it can also keep you from swinging on a pendulum from catastrophizing and depression. So, how can you manage your expectations and improve your mood? What should you be doing when things seem so uncertain, but you don’t want to fall into a depressed state?
Understand Your Current Reality
Most expectations and catastrophic thoughts stem from “what ifs.”
If you find yourself going from one extreme to another, it’s probably because you’re worried about things that have already happened, or thinking about what might happen in the future. One of the best ways to balance things out is to stay focused on the present.
Mindfulness is a great way to accomplish that. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or you’re experiencing a low mood, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Focus on your breathing, how you feel, and your surroundings.
Just a few minutes of mindfulness each day can make a big difference in your overall mood and your outlook. You’ll be less stressed, able to focus on reality, and less worried about the “what ifs” that surround you.
Understand That Things Don’t Have to Go Your Way
When setting expectations, it’s easy for them to be unrealistic. We all have things we wish would happen in our everyday lives. But, when those expectations aren’t met, it’s easy for negative thoughts to take over.
Instead of feeling depressed or down when your expectations aren’t meant, it’s important to develop the right attitude. Accepting reality for what it is can be a fantastic place to start. There should be no “have to’s” in your life when it comes to things going your way. When you learn acceptance and understand that you have to move on, you’ll be less likely for unmet expectations to bring you down.
Don’t Ignore the “Bad Things”
Catastrophizing tends to make people solely focus on the “bad things” in life, and take them to extremes. However, lowering your expectations can make the bad things seem less important than they actually are.
Finding some kind of mid-level understanding of reality is the best way to manage your mental well-being.
Don’t lower your expectations to the point of going numb. It’s okay to acknowledge that there is still uncertainty in the world. It’s okay to understand and accept that things aren’t great right now. Will that always make you feel good? No. But, it will allow you to stay in reality without letting your thoughts get so low that it makes you depressed. Don’t ignore what’s going on in the world. Instead, accept it and think about what you can do to make things better in your life, or how you can handle the difficult situations that come up every day.
One of the worst things you can do for your mental health is to swing back and forth into extremes. If you’re tired of being on a pendulum and want to stabilize your mood, keep these ideas in mind. Or, feel free to contact me to set up an appointment.
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You can find that happy medium between catastrophizing and lowering your expectations too far, and you don’t have to do it on your own.
To learn more about how online counseling can help you better cope, please click here.
Jennifer Perera is a mom of two boys, a spouse and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has a private practice in Springfield, New Jersey and also sees clients throughout New Jersey via telehealth. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual and couples counseling. She also runs workshops for new parents, teaching them techniques and strategies to help them have a stronger relationship - built to thrive during the parenthood years. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with grief or loss issues surrounding pregnancy.