The Mental Health Benefits of Minding Your Own Business

Lindsay Knake

| 4 min read

Lindsay Knake is a brand journalist for Blue Cross B...

We've all heard or uttered the phrase "mind your own business" at some point in our lives. It may sound odd, but there are tangible mental health benefits associated with minding your own business and controlling only what you can control. Why bring unnecessary stress into your life when you don't have to?
Some of us are naturally more interested in matters that do not concern us than others. The term "nosey" can be used to describe this characteristic. Traits associated with getting too wrapped up in other people's business may include:
  • Reacting instead of responding
  • Attempting to solve other people’s problems
  • Not accepting other people for who they are
  • Judging and criticizing
How to mind your own business:

Let go of strong emotions.

If you’re driving and someone suddenly pulls out in front of you, it’s easy to tip into anger. You are right they shouldn’t do that, but you can then take that anger home and share it with others. Letting go of that anger, however, means you’re not taking it on. Ask yourself if being angry about a situation serves you. While emotions are important signals, we don’t need to stick with every emotion we have during the day.
Mindfulness, the practice of staying focused and centered on the current moment, allows us to observe our thoughts rather than get caught up in them. A mindfulness practice correlates to better health outcomes, including reducing anxiety and depression and improving blood pressure, according to the National Institutes for Health.

Avoid harmful gossip.

Gossip is a normal part of the human experience, but gossip isn’t all the same. Negative gossip that leans into judgment and thoughtless criticism can break down trust and disrupt friendships. Generosity, on the other hand, is good for your health. When you are kind to others, your brain secretes feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine.

Accept others.

Ultimately, other people are not within our control. We cannot change other people. Accepting others for who they are can provide us with a sense of relief. This isn’t about accepting harmful or abusive behaviors, but rather learning to let normal, minor annoyances we all have pass by without reaction. 

Ask before sharing advice.

Unsolicited advice is not particularly welcome for many people, but it’s easy to give without thinking about it. When you are having a conversation with a loved one or colleague, ask before giving your advice. Perhaps they want an ear to their problem but not someone to solve it for them. This can create a respectful, supportive relationship and prevent resentment.

Consider if your opinion matters.

Social media, especially, is full of anger and outrage. It’s easy to read an anecdote or story about a situation completely apart from you and have a strong reaction. It’s also a place that encourages people to have opinions about everything, particularly ones we aren’t well-educated on. But that doesn’t always serve us.
Asking whether you need to have an opinion on a topic. The answer may be yes, but you also may not need to have opinions on every topic that comes across your feed. 

Set boundaries.

Boundaries are for us, not for others. Boundaries are a limit to what we will do or tolerate. This can help us prevent burnout and ensure we have capacity for our relationships, work, and lives. Being polite but firm in what we can and cannot do can be uncomfortable at first, but can lead to healthier and more sustainable lives.

Embrace the joy of missing out.

You’ve probably heard of the fear of missing out, or FOMO, but what about the joy of missing out? It can be easy to go along with plans we aren’t interested in simply because we don’t want to miss out. That can create stress, however. Tuning inward and listening to yourself may mean at times skipping out on plans to do what you want to do instead.
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