2020 has been a challenging year in many aspects. We all know the cause of that. However, another parallel pandemic has quietly been creeping in. Being closed at home, unsure about the future and worried about a disease can easily be a cause for decrease mental health. However, can we be the cause of it? Are there any mental-health mistakes we let in our lives?
Sadly, mental health is still a taboo topic, even though statistics show that 1 in 4 people struggle with it every year. Moreover, it often takes different shapes than the one presented in the media.
For me, 2020 was incredibly hard. It changed my life completely and this off-balance took control over me. My mental health was something that I had to work hard to preserve. 2020 did me a “favor” and showed me all my previous mistakes.
I have definitely not found all the answers, but there’s one thing I’ve got plenty of experience with – mistakes. So, let me introduce you to the 5 mistakes I learned from, so you don’t have to.
P.S. This list is based on my personal experience and many of the things I discuss may not apply to your unique scenario.
Mental-health mistakes: 1. Overloading
• something that achieves positive results
• the achieving of the results wanted or hoped for
The feeling of “success” comes in many shapes and sizes. Professional success is something we all aim at to a certain degree.
You want to be an expert in your field, to feel knowledgeable and accomplished. Longing for purpose, for a drive. You strive to change something – your routine, your home or the world. I wish for the same.
However, success is not only this. No matter what our society tells us, we may not find the pleasure of success at work.
Also, not all work is made equal. Sometimes work is fulfilling. It brings excitement and pleasure. Occasionally work is overwork. Bringing only fatigue and stress. We should be able to make the difference, especially when we are responsible for inflicting it.
In those moments we should remember our other wants and needs. Even with a purpose, you are a living being. You still need to walk, to breathe fresh air and rest.
Therefore, don’t forget that too much of anything can be harmful. Sometimes things that feel positive may be just the opposite. Slow down. Take a nap. Read a book. 10/10 doctors recommend.
Mental-health mistakes: 2. Lack of structure
Your brain loves routine. I’ve heard it, you’ve heard it. We all know the drill. Creating chaos in your life, reflects as chaos in your mind.
This always sounded a bit strict to me, as a creative individual. I don’t get to be artistic when I wish. However, things changed a bit after a few years in the jungle of business. Yes, it feels amazing to stay all night and write, write, write. But those spontaneous bursts of creativity can wear you out in a while.
Recently, I’ve found the beauty of routine. Sleeping well, eating good and exercise sounds boring. But feels good. I have energy, patience and focus for my projects. There are no creative bursts. I create all the time. Consistently and meticulously. Who said art cannot be pragmatic?
Mental-health mistakes: 3. Not giving yourself time
There are times, in which you feel like sh#t. Or have no ideas. No reason needed. Maybe, because you slacked on the routine part. Anyways, you just want to lay in bed and watch a movie. No workout or work done. But you cannot let yourself. It is not productive. Nor is it “healthy”.
What is also not healthy, but for your mind, is to not live through your emotions. Mental-health is just as important as your progress. Just let it in. Give yourself time to experience it – both the good and the bad. It is okay to feel down sometimes. Feels right to slack from time to time or to be out of shape for a week. It may actually do you some good. If it doesn’t stay closed and hidden – you let it go.
Mental-health mistakes: 4. Comparison
One of the worst things we do to ourselves over and over again is comparison. If there was a photo next to the word “toxic” in the dictionary, Britney won’t make it. It would be you, looking Instagram photos and comparing your life to influencers.
Comparison can be a good thing. It can give you a sign of how are you doing. That’s why you smile when your mom marks the door when you grow tall.
When you compare yourself to others you make one fatal mistake. You compare the well-established idea of who you are with the mirage of what people like to show you. You can never win a battle like this one. So, this comparison will never bring you joy.
Moreover, why do you waste time on something so needless? By finding out your friend X is on the beach and you are miserable at home, do you magically teleport to the Maldives? The answer is no. I wish though. But why bother?
Use the time for something meaningful that will actually make you happy.
For those of you who want to break the cycle, here are a few tips. Be aware – keep it at the back of your head when you scroll down. Remind yourself you don’t know anybody’s full story. Appreciate yourself, your qualities and your success. Swap comparison for inspiration. We can all do better. But we better go do it rather than put ourselves down.
Mental-health mistakes: 5. Mistaking self-care with selfishness
In my culture (or family, I am not sure), thinking about yourself first is often associated with egoism. Maybe it’s some sort of a communist residue, but I grew up with the idea that a good person should always put others first and care about them deeply. So, I kept doing so in all of my relationships. Yes, I realize how ridiculous this sounds. At least, I realize NOW.
Giving too much of yourself is tiring. Emotionally, physically, it will take all of you until you’re left with nothing. Surprise, you cannot be caring if you have nothing left in you. It is a recipe for disaster.
You need self-care to be able to take care of others. You need balance and stability in order to help others achieve it.
Moreover, you need boundaries. Not everything is worth your f#cks. Keep them for the ones that are worth it.
This over-care for others is a straight path to destroying relationships. If you give your all and expect the same, you will be in constant disappointment. Life is complex, it demands so much of us already. We cannot expect to be people’s top priority at all times. There is nothing wrong with that.
There is nothing wrong in saying no, in letting go of things and people, or walking away. Put yourself first. Without YOU there is no US. Not only you, but all of your relationships need and require you to take care of yourself. Do so.
To sum up, I know those messages are nothing you haven’t heard before. But here I am, the woman who did all of those mistakes no matter how much I’ve heard it too. We push ourselves so hard sometimes, because we know we can take it. But what we don’t know is for how long. The human psyche is a gentle thing. Treat it with caution.