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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at York U chapter.

There are instances when it is important to keep a positive outlook for your mental well-being; however, too much can also be toxic. Toxic positivity is when one forces a positive mindset upon themselves even though they’re in discomfort or pain, simply because they believe they always need to stay happy or positive. Happiness is not the only emotion we experience; we all feel anger, sadness, jealousy, pride and much more than I can list here. It isn’t possible to be positive all the time because there will be events in our lives that either lift us up, drag us down or end up doing both. You cannot force yourself to have a positive mindset when you have real, natural responses like crying. Actually, research has found that crying reduces emotional and physical pain because it releases endorphins in your body. It’s key to remember that being positive is not a measure of how healthy you are, but a mentality that allows you to see the good in things or events. Here are some pointers to help you identify signs of toxic positivity.

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Suppressing your emotions

Multiple studies show that dismissing feelings can lead to stress responses such as increased heart rate or sweat production. Even if you’re not aware of them and seem calm on the outside, your internal state is stressed out. A helpful way to prevent yourself from denying your feelings is to acknowledge them, which sounds simple enough but can sometimes be challenging. Remember that you need to accept all aspects of yourself, which means the good, bad and the ugly.

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Feeling guilty when you experience negative emotions

It’s natural to feel negative emotions; it’s one of the things that makes us, human beings, complex. However, when you feel guilty for having these feelings, you dive into a toxic loop where you start to avoid them, which only gets stronger over time. Plus, the more you suppress these emotions, the more strain it takes on your body and mind because you are not acknowledging that these emotions are valid too. The next time negative emotions crop up, instead of feeling guilty, try to focus your attention on them and assure yourself that what you are feeling right now is normal.

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Assuring yourself to “get over it” or “it could be worse”

This is another way to dismiss your feelings, which is a clear sign of toxic positivity. Telling yourself to only think happy thoughts and feel alright, further strays away from the issues at hand. Normally, this leads many of us to distract ourselves with work or coursework in an effort to avoid experiencing those feelings. A useful measure to take when you forcefully start to use a positive saying is to pause and ask yourself, “am I truly okay?” Or “how do I genuinely feel?” This way, you are taking time to take a step back and connect with yourself on what’s going on.

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All in all, being positive and happy 100% of the time is not a healthy mindset to have. This is because you’d be neglecting all your other emotions you need to experience, which takes a toll on you physically and mentally. Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, and we all struggle and falter, which is why processing pessimistic emotions help you overcome them. Just because they’re labelled to be negative does not mean they are not important to address for your well-being.

I love taking pictures of the evening sky or competing in video games to the point where I’m so in the zone but I definitely love discussing about topics from human rights issues to fashion advice so my interests do have a wide range.
Feimoon is in her fourth and final year as an undergraduate student at York University, majoring in Communication Studies. She is passionate about traveling, fashion, beauty, writing and spreading positivity. She is now an Alumni of Delta Psi Delta, and past President. Now she focuses on being a Co-Campus Correspondent for the Her Campus York University chapter!