Are Bucket Lists Bad For Your Mental Health?

The other day I posted something on my Facebook and Instagram pages and attached a picture of a cute little dog with a caption that read “Is writing a book on your bucket list?” It seemed only fitting when I saw it as I had just found out that I was being awarded a grant from a non-profit organization for the publication and outreach of my children’s book which also meant that something I had only dreamt about for a long time was no longer just a wild dream but in reality one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.

The thing is though, writing a children’s book, or actually publishing one wasn’t even on my bucket list at all, and the reason being is that I’ve never given it much thought to having a bucket list. I mean I have always had goals and aspirations, or things that I have always hoped for or dreamt about experiencing in my lifetime just like everybody else but I have only ever made a mental note of them. In order for something to truly be considered part of a bucket list one must write them down, keep track of them, create timelines, make plans or goals and then scratch them off your list one by one throughout your lifetime.

When you really stop and think about where the meaning behind a bucket list originated from it can feel quite morbid as this list is a reflection of what you want to accomplish before you die or as the phrase implies; “kick the bucket”! This can often result in poor mental health when we become consumed with trying to check all these items off of our list suggesting that it’s the only way we can win at life.

So why can having a bucket list result in poor mental health? Well for starters, bucket lists focus on things that are often unattainable to most people and can in turn cause anxiety or depression. It’s very important to set goals and have aspirations, along with hopes and dreams but if it’s on your bucket list it may lose its meaning all together behind the actual experience, the reflection of the experience and the ability to live in the moment when all you really care about is making sure you check each item off your list as quickly as possible.

Social media today of course can also play a huge role in why a bucket list can become harmful to our well-being because somewhere along the way we have lost what is truly important and that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. When you see others scratching items off their bucket list it can make us second guess our own goals and aspirations as well as our hopes and dreams.

It’s my birthday on Sunday and over the last several years it has become one of the most difficult days of the year for me. Birthdays often make us reflect on the year that has just passed and of course on the year ahead but this year in particular I find myself reflecting even more than ever as I continue to battle for my survival. Like a bucket list, our lives are forever changing and growing and if you do have a bucket list I’m pretty sure it has changed and grown with age.

I do make lots of lists (probably daily and you should see how long the list is right now), but more of a to-do list in order for me to be able to function even just a bit but as little as those items on my to-do list may seem to others, they are my goals and aspirations and sometimes my hopes and dreams and when they aren’t able to get scratched off right away I feel like a complete failure. But at least I know that even if they are small items and meaningless to others, they are attainable ones and seeing as it’s unlikely that I will ever go skydiving one day (seeing as I’m terrified of heights and flying that is probably the worst example ever) or eat croissants in a cafe in Paris, for now, my survival depends on just checking off the little moments in my life instead.

Do you have a bucket list? If so what’s on your list? Is it alphabetized, prioritized, colour coded or theme based? Who have you shared it with? How often do you add to it or make changes?

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Author: Kim Fluxgold

Wife, mom of 3 beautiful children, dog lover, creative sole and children's book Author. Sharing my journey with depression and anxiety through blogging in hopes of educating and ending the stigma.

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