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When Passion Starts Affecting Mental Health

by Tanya Agarwal

Does the title of this blog convey that passion can be destructive? And all through our lives, we are taught to find a passion – one that gives more meaning to our lives, a purpose beyond our mundane existence of doing a job and just running errands. In short – Passions are meant to help us look at the other side of life.

Passionate people find passion in many things – A girl passionate about getting fit starts feeling good about her body, a child passionate about a sport like cricket – spends hours on the field to practice. With time, as his game improves he wins accolades for himself and then starts coming in the high from his passion.

But as always – as for everything in life – comes in that wise and vicious ‘thin’ line. When passion crosses that thin line – new names are given to it – commonly heard as ‘Obsession’ and ‘Addiction’.

What’s that thin line? I’ll explain with a personal example.

I am a runner – I love it. It drives me, keeps me goal oriented. I work hard to keep getting better at it. And there are 1000s of runners exactly like me. We share running quotes with sentiment as deep as – It’s better to Die than DNF (Did not finish) and there are 1000s of such quotes.

Runner spouses will tell you how obsessed their partners have become about achieving their target timings. How they start ignoring family to sleep early and become selfish about training. That one thing that was meant to give health and fitness, now becomes a sore point for the family. Because the thin line has been crossed.

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When runners get injured, they become cranky. They aren’t able to run. Seeing the world on social media follow their passion, while they nurse an injury brings many a mood swings in their lives ultimately leading to a lot of anxiety! That one thing that was supposed to make me a happier person, obsessing over it has made me an anxious person! My passion becomes my crutch leading to mild depression.

I read this line somewhere that sums it up – “When you tie your self-worth to the validations an activity brings to you and become more passionate about that than doing the activity – that’s where your passion has lost its true meaning in your life”.

That’s the thin line – the line that divides the need for external validation and the ‘doing’ of the activity. Did the girl stay happy with the positive outcomes of her love for fitness or did she start getting affected by the number of likes she got on her fitness images on social media? When the accolades stopped pouring in on daily basis, did it effect the boy’s relationship with the his favorite sport?

How do we keep ourselves in check? By doing it for the joy of it! Simple?

Yes! It however does not mean that we should not enjoy the kick we get from doing well in our passions – I do love my hard earned personal best timings, I love collecting my medals – but running is not my life  – it is a part of my life I turn to when I am tired playing multiple roles all day or when am in need of some ‘me’ time, or when I feel like bringing out the athlete in me. My desire to run is a lot more than the likes I get on my running pictures. It’s ok if I don’t get podiums, because am glad I get the time to run. It’s fine if am not a talented runner – I am a runner and I run!

I don’t want my passion at the cost of my mental health, I don’t want my passion to suffer and I don’t want my near and dear ones to suffer from my passion – but all of this will happen – the minute – I become obsessive about running!

While many time management theories can be used for making space for work, family, and hobby commitments, it’s true that we can’t have it all at one time, because then balance is lost, passion becomes stress ultimately attacking that much needed mental health! Our passions don’t need to see the perfectionist side of ours! Our passions are best when they lighten us up.

Let’s not forget – Life is a Marathon and not a sprint (and btw only a runner can tell you that!)

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Tanya Agarwal is Founder and Blogger at WellthyFit - a health and fitness blog on Yoga, Running, Healthy Living, Nutrition, Travel, Joy and everything Life! She reviews fitness products and experiences. WellthyFit is her platform where she invites passionate fitness writers to share their expertise. With her blogs and fun videos she motivates people to stay the course of health and fitness day after Day.

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