There’s a strange thing that happens when people try to address an issue they don’t fully understand.
For example, is it necessary to implement a fancy diet and an exercise plan seven days a week when maybe you just need to get enough sleep?
It it crucial to download and implement 5 productivity apps when a simple to-do list would do the trick?
When problems loom over you, and the challenges in front of you seem insurmountable, there is a tendency to address the issue by adding complexity to the situation.
I bet if you think about this for a few seconds that you could come up with a few examples from your own life.
I, for one, was absolutely guilty of downloading tons of apps and researching all the latest and greatest tools and techniques to help me manage my time and get more done. What actually happened was that I spent all my time trying to set up all my apps and learn the latest productivity techniques–and very little time actually getting anything done. Terrific.
Enter the Mental Health Mistake
It’s tempting to want to handle your mental health in the same way that I tried to improve my productivity.
And I get it. Mental health is this daunting, dancing blob of a thing.
It seems so huge that there couldn’t be a way to manage it–let alone improve it, for crying out loud–by relying on your willpower and your own innate talent.
But it is a mistake to look at the complexity of mental health issues and then decide that it’s best to respond to that complexity with even more complexity.
Instead, you need simplicity. You need to get back to the fundamentals.
So what are the fundamentals when it comes to addressing the mental health mistake?
Fundamentals in life (The SSSH! Method)
I think the fundamental mental health actions you can take in life can be boiled down into four words:
Simple - A core activity that gets to the root of the issue
Singular - One, concrete action that you can take and repeat over time
Self-Sufficient - Something that actually can be continued, that is realistic and likely to get done time and time again.
High-Leverage - An action that truly moves the needle. For example, getting 8 hours of sleep, drinking a gallon of water a day, and meditating for 15 minutes a day are all high-leverage activities because they impact your entire day and dramatically influence the quality of the rest of the actions you take.
The next time someone tries to tell you that you need to complete a complicated 18-step plan to be happy, tell them to SSSH! and use the goofy acronym I just created to help you on your mental health journey!
Here are a few more examples for you to think about:
- Maybe you don’t need to run 10 miles every single.
In fact, if you do, you’re probably going to end up doing damage to your legs in the long term, especially if your running form is less than ideal.
And maybe you don’t need to read about every topic under the sun (I was guilty of this as well).
Maybe, just maybe, you can learn the core concepts that relate to all areas of mental health instead. If you study the core principles and patterns that apply to mental health in general, you’ll probably be able to understand more than if you scraped the surface of 25 complex mental health diagnoses.