When it comes to mental health, not all advice you hear is good advice. Here are the three most common tips we hear that are actually NOT helpful for managing your mental health.
1. Ignoring what you feel
Denying that something is wrong won’t make the problem go away. If you’re prone to experiencing depression and you try to just pretend you haven’t been feeling down and hopeless lately, your symptoms might get even worse. For example, you may start to lose motivation to do things, or find that activities that used to be fun don’t make you feel happy anymore.
Avoiding people who care about you, like close friends or family members, can be a subtle way of ignoring what you feel. People who really know you and get you are the most likely to know that something is up and are the best equipped to gently bring this to your attention.
If you’ve been struggling with stresses and anxieties recently that you just don’t want to face, you might find yourself putting off get togethers or canceling plans because you know on some level that being with your loved ones will make you confront the truth.
2. Focusing too much on someone else
While there’s some truth to the common wisdom that sometimes you need to get out of your head, focusing too much on other people when you’re having mental health struggles is actually counterproductive.
Getting wrapped up in helping a friend going through a hard time when you’re going through one yourself sets the stage for you to try to “fix” what’s going on in your friend’s life, instead of tackling your own issues. This is especially a risk if you tend to be a people pleaser, or if you had a codependent or enmeshed family structure in childhood. If you get too involved in your friend’s life, not only will you spend a lot of energy you could have used on yourself, you might end up damaging your friendship as well.
3. Having a few drinks
It’s a common practice in our mainstream culture to indulge in alcohol when something tough is going on — having some beers after a hard week at work, opening a bottle of wine once the kids have gone to bed and your brain is fried, having a crazy night out as soon as you end things with your partner.
While unwinding and cheering yourself up are well-meaning motivations, excessive or habitual alcohol drinking actually acts as a depressant on your nervous system, increasing your chances of having a low mood or difficulty sleeping. You may also be putting yourself at risk of developing an addiction, which could add to your life challenges instead of reducing them.
Finding a positive approach
There’s mental health advice out there that actually works — like finding healthy ways to boost your mood, activities to help you process your thoughts and emotions, and techniques to relieve stress. If you need support practicing these strategies, or you find that using coping skills on their own isn’t helping you, therapy might be the right next step. We love working with clients on enhancing their means of self care, and exploring deeper questions or concerns you may be facing. Click the button below to schedule a free initial consultation — we’re ready to help.