Lockdowns are being lifted across Australia, the miracle of modern medicine has fast-tracked COVID vaccines, and Trump has finally been ousted from the White House, with Joe Biden being inaugurated early this morning. After an incredibly chaotic and…unprecedented (sorry!) year, it seems like things are finally getting better.
So why aren’t we feeling happy about it?
Turns out, there’s a scientific reason for that. Talking to Bustle, Dr. Navya Singh, Psy.D, the founder and chief clinical officer of behavioural healthcare platform wayForward, explains that “we often feel more than one emotion during an emotionally charged experience”.
It’s pretty natural to feel a mix of emotions around events like this. Yes, lockdowns are being lifted, but we still experienced that intense isolation — and who’s to say it won’t happen again? (Looking at you, Northern Beaches). There’s a COVID vaccine due shortly, but so many people aren’t alive to see it. There may have been a White House changeover, but that doesn’t change the fact that white supremacists recently stormed the Capitol.
It’s a phenomenon that even Kacey Musgraves sang about in her song Happy & Sad. Dr Singh explains it to Bustle, saying: “There is no ‘right’ way to feel. We all have different life experiences that contribute to us experiencing and expressing our emotions differently”.
If you are struggling to cope with this perplexing mix of ‘happy-sad’ or if you catch yourself thinking, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t feel mad or bad about this’ or ‘This isn’t the right way to feel’, don’t forget that your thoughts are valid and you’re allowed to feel them.
Dr. Vaneeta Sandhu, Psy.D, the head of emotional fitness at mental health platform Coa, says to try acknowledging what’s going on for you. “Name the emotion you are feeling, and then sit with it,” Dr. Sandhu suggested to Bustle. “This approach can help acknowledge the differences of others, while still allowing yourself space to feel that disappointment, and that’s OK.”