As we celebrate this year’s Groundhog Day, many of us are feeling like we are starring in the classic 1993 comedy starring Bill Murray. The basic premise of the film Groundhog Day is being forced to live through the same day over and over again, and with current COVID restrictions, many people report experiencing a similar repetitive reality. On this Groundhog day we are focusing on some of the gains and losses the pandemic has dealt our daily lives and healthy ways we can address these challenges.

Loss of anticipation is a bummer

Anticipation is the positive emotions we feel prior to experiencing what we hope will be a fun/pleasant experience. This emotion has many positive benefits including helping us to feel a sense of control over how our lives unfold and teaching us to delay gratification. Anticipation also activates reward centers in our brains, which help us feel good and stay motivated to achieve our goals. Unfortunately, many events that people used to anticipate—such as vacations, weddings, concerts and even going out to dinner—are not currently available. This loss of positive things to look forward to can also unleash anticipation’s dark flipside: anxiety. If you have been feeling more anxious and less hopeful remind yourself that you are not alone. Try to be gentle with yourself and remind yourself to practice anticipation with smaller things that are under your control. 

Moods are the new vacation

With more time spent at home many people have become much more aware of their own moods and overall mental health. Experts confirm that mood swings have become much more prevalent during the pandemic and many people’s mental health struggles have been magnified. Many of us are spending much more time at home than ever before, which can lead to more introspection and exploring of our internal terrains. Done in proactive ways and with the right tools this shift can be productive and promote reflection and personal growth. But undertaken without much planning, more time spent in our own heads can lead to rumination and feelings of depression. Practicing non-judgmental self-awareness of moods, using skills that can help manage swings and seeking professional help when needed can greatly help to make you moods more like the sunny beach vacation you will—hopefully—someday go on (cue anticipation!)

Potential for conflicts is on the rise

After several days of living through the same day Bill Murray’s character starts punching people who he knows will be part of his day. This is not just because he is no longer concerned with consequences. His character is genuinely feeling trapped and frustrated with being forced to live the same day over and over again. Humans crave variety and new experiences and many of us are sorely lacking in these departments. The film also illustrates that though we often fear change, the total lack of change may be even worse. Pandemic restrictions and stay at home orders have intensified all types of domestic conflicts, from spats to full fledged abuse. Divorce rates have also increased globally as the pandemic has unfolded. Differences that may have initially brought couples together may now be driving them apart, under the additional pressures of social restrictions. If you are experiencing more stress and conflict within your interpersonal relationships know that you are not alone. Mental health experts recommend trying to establish new routines that help promote feelings of stability and seeking professional help when managing challenging situations becomes overwhelming. 

If you want to make this day stand out while celebrating the famous rodent that helps us know when spring is coming, try one of these activities: 

5 Fun Ways to celebrate Groundhogs Day:

1. Watch the movie Groundhog’s Day

2. Try and draw a groundhog 

3. Plan your spring garden

4. Make a list of events and trips you are looking forward to once restrictions have lifted

5. Get dressed up even if its just to look fancy in your living room

In the film Bill Murray’s character is only released from the repetitive merry-go-round of a life when he learns to be a better person and starts treating the people in his over and over again with more respect.

What might we be learning from living through very similar days that tend to blend together and be very hard to keep track of?