If I get into an argument with someone, especially one that shouldn’t affect my life in any real way, I know I’m gonna feel like crap for a while, and that I need to lay low or I’ll make it worse. And now I have the right words for that feeling: An emotional cold.
An emotional cold, says Haley Nahman at Man Repeller, is the kind of mental downswing that doesn’t come from clinical depression or a major lifestyle cause, but hits you like a seasonal bug.
I “catch” my emotional colds from conflict and confrontation; you might catch yours from minor disappointments, the weather, or some hidden cause you’ll never figure out. But for an occasional emotional cold, you don’t need to figure it out. There’s no cure.
You could just call it a “mood”. But the common-cold metaphor gives you a coping plan: Don’t stress about the cold like a life-threatening illness, but don’t aggravate it, and try not to pass it on.
Get some emotional rest, and treat the symptoms with everyone’s favourite activity, the one that comes with decorative tildes pre-attached: ~~Self-care~~. And there’s a ton of advice on self care, so you’ll find something you like.
While you shouldn’t obsess over curing the emotional cold, you can try to recognise the cause and deal with it. For me, that means staying out of any further contentious conversations, and engaging in a back-and-forth that’s more emotionally relaxing.
I take a break from whatever form of communication got me angry (usually, talking to strangers on the internet), and I chat to a sympathetic friend instead — not about the argument or my feelings, but about anything low-stakes and familiar that will make me feel better.
Separating the “emotional cold” from more serious or long-term emotional distress helps us get through them faster and easier, without making things worse. As Nahman says:
Just because some downturns are worth exploring for clues and action plans doesn’t mean every moody day is a reliable thermometer for my emotional wellbeing.
Have You Ever Had an Emotional Cold? | Man Repeller