Each day this month I will be answering one question from these December Journal Prompts.
Day 14: Over the past year, what has contributed to the declines in your mental health?
Even when life is at its very best, we all still face everyday challenges that threaten our mental well-being. I try to be proactive about dealing with these things when I come across them, but some still slip through the cracks and have a more lasting negative impact. So, despite how truly wonderful my year has been, I have still had to navigate and recover from a few setbacks. Reflecting on them now, I can pinpoint three noteworthy factors that contributed to the declines in my mental health over the past year.
Laziness is first on this list for a reason! It is sneaky, and manipulative, and masquerades as a healthy form of rest, but underneath, I think it is one of the worst mental health killers out there! Laziness is such an easy trap to fall into, and once you’re in, it’s so hard to get out.
Now hear me out. I’m not talking about healthy rest here. We all need to take breaks and get an appropriate amount of rest for the sake of our mental well-being. But for me there is a point at which rest very quickly becomes laziness, and to be honest, I have not yet been able to determine exactly where that line is.
Nonetheless, I can always tell that I’ve slipped into a dangerous form of laziness when my rest no longer rejuvenates me, but rather begins to deplete me of my will to do anything at all. When this happens—and it did happen for a season this year—it takes an enormous amount of effort to reclaim my passion and drive for life, work, and play. I have learned that I need to be very careful to guard against laziness in my life if I don’t want it to get the best of me.
2. Listening to haters.
This one is interesting because when I think of haters, I think of controversial celebrities who have tons of people criticizing their every move. Clearly, I don’t face that reality in my daily life (thank goodness)! But occasionally, I do come across people whose opinions of me or my work are less than spectacular.
This is certainly not a category where I would like to divulge any kind of details, but I will simply say that when I let haters get inside my head, it can wreak havoc on my mental health. This year I got hit hard by some accusations that cut to the heart of who I am, what I believe, and how I live out those beliefs. And it took me back a few steps.
Now, listen. I’m not saying that the haters themselves are the mental health killers here. Because there will always be haters, and that’s just a reality of life. It’s listening to the haters that will mess you up. It’s when you let them redefine you and cause you to lose sight of who you truly are. I fell into that trap for a season this year, and it wasn’t pretty.
3. Doubting myself.
I’ve spent many years of my adult life working to regain a sense of self-worth and to overcome all kinds of insecurities. I have come a long way, but I don’t think this is a battle I will ever completely win on this side of eternity. My guess is that even the most confident person on the planet has a few deep-rooted insecurities that come to the surface every now and again!
In my life this year, insecurity most frequently appeared in the form of self-doubt. As a new mom, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing most of the time. With so many things to learn about how to care for a tiny person, you are bound to make a few mistakes. My problem was that I generally assumed I was making mistakes all the time. I questioned so many of my choices, and all of this second guessing occasionally spiraled into feelings of anxiety and failure. This year I learned that I need to cut myself some slack and trust my instincts more often.
Laziness, listening to haters, and doubting myself were three of the more prominent struggles I faced in terms of my mental health this year. Sometimes it’s hard to write about your weaknesses, but journaling about each of these challenges has been very constructive for me. I have gained some practical takeaways that I hope will have a very positive impact on the way I live this next year. And I’m excited for that!
And now it’s your turn! What factors have contributed to the declines in your mental health this year?