5 Wellness Mistakes You Might be Making

1. Going to bed with your phone

I know, I know. We all know. “It’s my alarm.” And listen, if you are not noticing sleep disturbances or you are not feeling impacted by your phone in your bed, carry on. You do not have to change this if you do not want to, or are not ready. You don’t!

However, if you are having difficulty falling asleep, difficulty waking up, or are waking up exhausted, this could be one small change you make in the direction of greater rest. The research surrounding how the light from our cell phones is affecting our sleep cycles is abundant. 

Recommend: Start slow. For one month, keep your phone in a different room every Sunday night. Replace your bedtime scrolling with a different activity. Assess after one month. What did you notice? Do you want to add a second night for the second month? 

2. Mixing up requests with boundaries

Boundaries must be something in your control. They cannot control another person. That is not a boundary. 

In the best case scenarios, we can hope to be able to have influence over people we love and who love us. We might share about how we feel and we might make a request for a behaviour change, and the person on the receiving end is impacted by how we feel and begins down a path of behaviour change (note: behaviour change is hard, and sometimes people need some grace, patience, and the ‘benefit of the doubt’ while they learn a new way of doing something). 

Request: “When you watch tv after dinner, and leave me to clean-up, I feel bitter and frustrated. I want to rest, too. I need us to create a different routine here. Could we please clean-up after dinner together, and then we both are able to rest?”

Boundaries are sometimes what comes after a request is not accommodated. For example, if your partner doesn’t join you, and you’ve tried some other attempts at collaborative problem-solving, you might start a new routine of cleaning up every other night. Your job is to communicate this new routine to your partner calmly and clearly. Do you risk that the kitchen will never get cleaned on those nights you don’t step into your old rhythm? Sure – however I might have some questions for your partner and I might wonder if couples counselling might be a good idea. 

Recommend: Check in that your “boundaries” are within your control. If they are not, try again. 

3. Colluding with your inner critic or part inside of you that is “judging and criticizing”

Many of us have this part of us, and some of us have a much more INTENSE version of this part of us. One thing that I see in the therapy space is a blurring between a person’s sense of self and this critical, harsh part of themselves. What does this look like? It looks like a person believing what the critical part is saying – deeply believing they are flawed, bad, unlovable, and shameful. We work hard in the therapy space to pull back from the critical part and re-connect to a sense of self separate from this part (or “voice”). We might work on re-constructing a different kind of relationship with this part of ourselves, we might work on understanding how this part has come to take on this role with such ferocity, and we are certainly going to work on not passing our ‘car keys’ over and letting this part DRIVE OUR CAR. 

Recommend: Awareness is always an incredible first step. When you are absorbed or immersed in your self-critic part or voice, notice that. Pull back from that immersion. Find someone who loves you and immerse yourself in their voice or in a hug. Use your 5 senses to ground yourself in the sights, sounds, touches, tastes, and smells that are around you. Meet yourself with some space and kindness, and observe how the harsh part of you responds. Stay observant. 

4. Giving inaccurate meaning to our initial thoughts and feelings

There are some feelings like anger, resentment, envy, and jealousy that can make us feel like having them somehow makes us ‘bad’. There is a difference between having difficult thoughts and feelings (normal!) and acting on resentful thoughts and feelings. Having these difficult thoughts and feelings makes you human, not bad!

Recommend: Remind yourself that we don’t choose our initial thoughts and feelings in situations (they are based on a lifetime of accumulated experiences). We choose how we respond to our initial thoughts and feelings. Over time and with practice, our initial thoughts and feelings can change based on how we respond to them. Meet your challenging thoughts and feelings with a reminder of your humanity.

5. Forgetting to build in moments of fun, joy, and playfulness. 

If you are doing the hard work of self-development, of healing, or of breaking cycles of intergenerational trauma, this message is for you. This is your life, right now. In the midst of all the heavy or painful work you are doing, please do not forget to find moments of lightness, pleasure, and play in your days. 

Recommend: What would bring some lightness into your mind and body? Sitting outside with a coffee? Going for an ice cream cone? Putting on a song and dancing? Do that small thing, today.

Danielle is a Registered Social Worker and psychotherapist in Hamilton, Ontario. She works with experiences of anxiety, depression, and trauma from a relational and client-centred approach. She is an EMDR Consultant-in-Training. She’s probably drinking a very hot coffee, right now. More questions? Reach out here.