The Small Things Add Up

Often when we feel like our mental health is not in the best place, we start looking for big things that could be causing us stress. When we aren't able to find a big issue that is causing the stress, it may be time to examine all of the small things because they could be adding up.  

By Momentous Institute | Apr 13, 2021
Small Things Add Up

Often when we feel like our mental health is not in the best place, we start looking for big things that could be causing us stress. Many times there are big things like life events or changes at work or in your community that are affecting your mental health. It is always important to address those big things. However, sometimes there is not a big thing that seems to be the cause of stress, anxiety or a blah mood.

It’s the small things.

It can be frustrating when we can’t pinpoint a singular thing that is affecting our mental health. Having to deal with one big thing might seem easier than the alternative. But when you can’t find the one big thing – it might mean it’s something else: a lot of little things that are affecting your mental health.

Imagine that you are carrying a bag. Every time you experience a small negative moment, like spilling your coffee, accidentally replying all to an all-staff email, or realizing you’re late paying your internet bill, you add a rock to that bag. Eventually, all of those rocks start adding up. That bag gets heavy. It starts weighing you down. Your back starts hurting from carrying the weight of so many little rocks.

When this happens, we have to pause and look into that bag. We have to face all of those little things that are keeping us down, so we can try to manage them and lighten our load. Some will be easier to deal with, and some will be harder, but facing them is a step towards managing your mental health.

A good way to do this is to make a list of all the things weighing you down and decide what you can and can’t control. We have a helpful post that will walk you through this process.

And wait, there is good news!

Yes, all the small negative things add up, but so do all of the positive things. We may not have asked for that bag of rocks, but we can use how they pile up against us in our favor by intentionally cataloging all of the little good things that brighten our day and lift our mood.

This time, imagine that you have an empty vase. Every time you experience a small happy or joyful moment, you add a flower to that vase. Eventually that vase is bursting with flowers brightening up the room.

The small things affect us. Whether good or bad, they affect us. We can’t just ignore the bad, but we can face them and manage them, and we can remind ourselves of all the small good things. Mental health is not stagnant; it is always changing. We will all experience times when the small things overwhelmingly affect our mental health, and when that time comes, we’ll know that we have to ability to manage the situation.