When I think about the way I manage mental health, I think a lot about tunnel vision. If you’re not as familiar with the concept, tunnel vision is often used as a metaphor when someone is focused exclusively on a singular goal or way of doing things. Even though it’s often used as a metaphor, the literal definition of tunnel vision is a loss of peripheral vision. There are pro’s and cons to having tunnel vision when it comes to our mental health – let’s break down some of the main ways they occur.
What is Tunnel Vision?
In writing this post, I came across more medical definitions of tunnel vision than I anticipated. As it turns out, tunnel vision is less of a metaphor than I thought. The medical definition of tunnel vision (which I learned is also called (peripheral vision loss), is when someone has lost their peripheral sight, or side vision. A person with PVL can only see what is directly in front of them. And even though it seems like it’d be obvious to notice a lack of side vision, most people don’t use side vision outside of the physical sense, creating a more metaphorical tunnel vision for their wellness.
The Upside of Tunnel Vision
I could easily spend more time bashing this concept than lifting it up, but I think there are pros and cons when it comes to having tunnel vision for our mental health. One of the biggest upsides of employing tunnel vision is that you can help learn to prioritize your mental health. In the past few years, I notice how hard it is for me to complete tasks or go out and be a person if I haven’t prioritized my wellness – or at least thought about it a little bit. Though it wasn’t my goal, I’d credit part of that to the tunnel vision I have sometimes surrounding my depression and anxiety.
One other upside of having tunnel vision for my mental health is that I’m able to view most things that happen in the world through a mental health lens. By doing this, I can better understand a situation, or make sure that I understand all the aspects of its context while incorporating mental health. I wouldn’t say there’s a ton I love about having tunnel vision when it comes to my mental health, but these have been a few bright spots.
The Downside of Tunnel Vision
If I’m being honest, in my experience there are far more downsides to having tunnel vision (when it comes to mental health) than upsides. You lose focus of other things going on in your life, you can forget to prioritize others when they need it, you can develop thought processes that make it seem as if your mental health is inherently better than someone else’s…the list goes on.
To be short, there are many unintended consequences from using tunnel vision to bolster our mental health. Even though wellness is (and should always be) the goal, it doesn’t work as well if it comes as the cost of damaging relationships or other aspects of our lifestyle.
What Do You Think?
Sometimes I feel pretty split on how tunnel vision can improve my mental wellness. Maybe it’s just that there are pros and cons to this concept, and it’s important to remember that if we feel like we’re hyper-focused on mental health to the point that it’s actually not helpful. But I want to hear what you think! Do you ever experience tunnel vision when it comes to your mental health? Has it worked well for you, or does it lead to issues? Let me know in the comments!