By Dr. Vincent Apicella
As we enter into Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to acknowledge and empathize with the millions of Americans suffering from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, and the many other mental health conditions affecting our society. These conditions dramatically impact the lives of patients and their families. They require intensive treatment, therapy, and maintaining consistent guidance from healthcare professionals. However, for the purposes of this article, I’d like to bring awareness to general mental well-being rather than any particular diagnosis or disorder.
Many people quietly suffer from the feeling of being overwhelmed. Not only is this a growing phenomenon, it’s one that is not recognized as a clinical diagnosis. Ask anyone how they feel lately, and chances are many would describe themselves as “overwhelmed”. Although feeling overwhelmed is a common symptom of anxiety and depression, many of us assume it’s an isolated feeling and never seek help, much less a diagnosis.
Studies have shown that the vast majority of Americans feel overwhelmed, lack fulfillment, motivation, and struggle to find direction in life. This means many of us are suffering while ignoring symptoms assuming they’re normal. We’ve grown accustomed to answering “how are you?” with “I’m fine” , or spend countless hours feeling so overwhelmed, we don’t know what to do. Most will never receive a diagnosis, nor would they benefit from treatment with prescription drugs. Often times, the root cause can be traced back to an unhealthy mindset – a lack of purpose or the self-doubt that comes with believing our problems can’t be solved. Why does this happen? Why do we get so caught up in fear-based thoughts, hold onto guilt, and allow ourselves to become so overwhelmed by life?
While most research will point to early childhood trauma or emotional and physical abuse, we are also infected with a cultural environment that has polluted our positive growth mindset.
We need to ask ourselves whether the age of Google and Amazon has robbed us of our resiliency to find solutions and to work for them. Has our political party system taught us to blame others and encouraged divisiveness rather than holding ourselves accountable? Have we reached the point where we allow artificial intelligence to replace our own critical thinking skills? Has social media lead us to become so insecure with ourselves that we now lack the ability to be vulnerable and share who we truly are with the world? When we add these things together, it’s easy to see how one could feel so constantly overwhelmed.
I’d like to offer 7 simple steps to help create a healthier mindset. While I wish I could go into more detail, this article is simply too short; I suppose one could use the aforementioned Google or some other form of AI to learn more, though I believe the following is a great foundation to build upon a more empowered and positive mindset.
- Unplug from the noise. Reduce exposure to digital media and screen time.
- Discover your why. Put in the work to identify your purpose. What drives you to get out of bed each day?
- Practice removing limiting beliefs and negative self talk.
- Step into the resistance. Whatever is ailing you the most is likely the answer to moving forward.
- Evaluate your support group. If you are the average of the people you spend the most time with, ask yourself if they are honoring you on your journey toward better health.
- Remember what you are grateful for everyday.
- Commit to learning. Spend time in books, podcasts, and journaling.
These 7 tips combined with a healthy diet, consistent physical activity, and restorative sleep can dramatically change your mental wellbeing and add purpose and fulfillment to your life.
If you have symptoms of mental health disorders, you should seek professional guidance immediately. Our mental health and wellbeing has perhaps the most impactful influence on our quality of life. Remember we’re all in this together. I encourage you to make a conscious decision every day to focus on growth, fulfillment, gratitude, and creating positive change in the world. Together, we can conquer our sense of being overwhelmed and find the answers we seek.
Stay healthy and thrive with kindness and purpose.