According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 Americans suffer from mental health issues in any given year. However, most people keep their problems to themselves, either embarrassed about their symptoms, or just unsure of what to do. Many feel ashamed or angry at themselves once they determine they have a mental illness, unfortunately. Also, they fear what others might think of them after finding out about their mental health. They worry they might lose friends, disappoint family members, or ruin their reputation.

Even though more people have become aware of mental health problems, a stigma still surrounds mental illnesses in general. Because so much falsity exists in regards to mental health, we hope to provide some clarity and continue to spread awareness about mental health with the information below.

Here are 5 things that can hurt your mental health:

affirmation list

1. Thinking in terms of absolutes.

Oftentimes, people with anxiety and/or depression will think in black and white. They don’t consider any areas in between, believing that they can either be mentally well, or mentally ill. However, just because you don’t feel your best mentally at the moment, doesn’t mean you should totally identify with mental illness. Remember, what you think about, comes about, so the more you dwell on having anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems, the more they will take over your life.

Start challenging your thoughts. Ask yourself “Is this really true?” before you wholeheartedly believe your thoughts. Many times, our thoughts take on a life of their own, and run on autopilot. Start questioning your thoughts, and remember that most people fall somewhere on the spectrum between mental wellness and illness. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only 17% of American adults are considered to have optimal mental health.

2. Assuming you are losing, or will never achieve good mental health

Many people with a mental illness believe they will remain stuck in an abyss forever, never able to climb out and see the light again. This black and white thinking can really set a person back, so don’t allow yourself to think this way. While it takes a lot of effort and dedication to become mentally stable and healthy again, that doesn’t mean you can’t find your way back to the light. You can recover completely, but you have to want it first. You have to desire to take control of your life again before any improvements can be made.

Remember, believing is seeing, so if you can picture yourself living a happy, healthy life, you can get there. Just don’t give up on yourself, because you are worth every ounce of effort it takes to get where you want to be.

3. Believing you can’t improve your state of mind on your own.

While medication can improve one’s mental state, most prescription pills have a long list of harmful ingredients and side effects that can do more damage than good. Many of them also are highly addictive, so most people who take them have a very hard time getting off of them. However, many studies have found that meditation and mindfulness have just as much effectiveness as medication in treating anxiety and depression. Also, a clean, balanced diet, exercise, healthy relationships, a fulfilling job, and self-care can do wonders for one’s mental health. You have all the power you need inside of you, so before you reach for pharmaceutical drugs and other quick fixes, simply make a few lifestyle changes and see if your mental health improves.

4. Not asking for help when you need it.

Because of the stigma attached to mental health problems, most sufferers feel embarrassed to ask for help. They would rather suffer in silence than go to someone and admit they have a problem, simply because they see this as weak and humiliating. However, you should never feel ashamed of anxiety or depression, because most adults experience these illnesses throughout their lives. You have to understand, though, that you don’t have to fight every battle on your own. Your friends, family, and even a therapist can only help you if you speak up about how you feel, so to get the ball rolling on curing your mental illnesses, don’t hesitate to ask someone else for their support.

5. Feeling inferior to others.

The bottom line is that you do not have less value than other people. Every human on this Earth deserves love and acceptance, especially from themselves. Love yourself unconditionally, because this self-love will help you heal. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems affect people for a variety of reasons, but mindfulness, acceptance, and love can go a long way in treating them.

Remember that other people may have problems underneath the surface too; everyone fights a different battle in this life, and no one sits higher on the totem pole than anyone else. We all play the same game, and we all share the same playing field. Don’t discount yourself because of your mental problems; rather, embrace yourself.

You have just as much right as anyone else to occupy this planet, so don’t ever beat yourself up over mental issues. Most people deal with them at some point in their lives, and it doesn’t make you a bad person. In fact, it makes you an incredibly strong, beautiful, and multi-faceted person. It makes you a warrior, better able to cope with anything life throws at you, because you’ve been to hell and back. You know both darkness and light, and you’ve stared fear right in the face.

This war inside you that most know nothing about makes you incredibly worthy, adequate, and courageous. It makes you a fighter, so don’t let anyone, especially yourself, make you believe you’re not enough. Don’t let yourself feel so small when you have the whole universe inside you.