Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Avoiding extremes
Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
It seems to me that we are living in a world of extremes. Nothing new with that concept, but when you look beyond the concrete and peek into the depth, “extreme anything” can seem to derail mental health and serenity.
For example, to a world that puts a premium on speed, on productivity, on a crammed calendar, on myriad responsibilities and on multi-tasking and juggling, a day with nothing but “just being” can sound lazy, wasteful and downright disdainful.
And the seemingly oxymoronic truth is that the more gadgets, time-savers, devices and inventions we have to speed up production in order to give us more “time,” the less time we actually have!
The reality is … these mixed messages mess with mental health! Let’s examine:
- Have you felt frazzled lately?
- Do you have any emotional energy left at the end of the work/chore day?
- Can you just stop, without feeling guilty?
- Do you see all the things undone, instead of all the things accomplished?
It’s time for some mental health fine-tuning and balancing!
- On one end of the spectrum, many of us are so deep into daily distractions and “being busy, busy, busy” that we miss out on moments and opportunities that can could actually get us into that place of “wow” – both personally and professionally. Then, when the reality of the missed opportunity surfaces, the reaction can be one of anger, frustration, powerlessness and a sense of being stuck. Yet … it was the busyness, in the first place, that promoted our missing the big opportunity! What a rat race and endless cycle. This FEEDS mental/emotional overload … and when it is extreme, it can eventually lead to depression or anxiety or myriad other psychological maladies.
- On the other hand, not being busy enough is just as out of balance as being too busy. This lack of intentional action and structured busyness can actually promote detachment and avoidance of others and can lead to isolation and unhealthy amounts of solitude. Additionally, being isolated from others (whether it is physically, emotionally, geographically or spatially), at its extreme, can eventually also lead to a psychological funk that borders on depression/anxiety and a host of other issues.
What to do? First, let’s stop believing that being overly busy is something to take pride in. Because when you are solely focused on marking the to-do off your list and stamping the goal as “Done,” you may have just missed the joy of the ride itself.
Remember, busyness is about frenzy, frustration and urgency. Don’t let it destroy what you love … when you reach your goal and accomplish the task, you want to feel GREAT and give yourself a moment to savor the victory!
And, if you’ve fallen into isolation because you are doing very little, give your bootie a kick and get back into life! You, too, want to experience the joy of the ride!
Balance … what does it look like? You have …
- Gotten rid of stuff
- Pared down expectations of perfection
- Let go of “friends” on social media who take joy in your defeats
- Decluttered time-eaters
- Thought more of what’s right and good, no longer concerning yourself with what’s going on with the Kardashians
- Thrown away the Superman/Superwoman cape if it means you no longer have time for relationships
- And, by all means, have decided to worry less about a clean house/garage and think more about the nuggets of beauty around you.
Now THAT’S balance … THAT’S living healthy!