“Take Control To Improve Your Mental Wellness And Quality of Life.” ~successmystic.com
Mental health issues can be triggered by a variety of factors that are beyond our control – a life emergency that takes a financial toll, the death of someone you love, or losing your job.
However, there are also choices that you make every single day that can affect your mood, more than you know. Everything from the way you walk to how much time you spend on social media can suck the happiness from your day without you realizing.
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There’s good news, though, because you can change these bad habits and keep your mental health on track.
40 Worst Habits for Mental Health
There is nothing quite as devastating for humans, both mentally and physically than loneliness. Opening up to others can leave us feeling vulnerable, and in a bid to avoid hurt, we protect ourselves by staying away.
The problem with this is it starts small and grows out of control till you reach a point where you have cut yourself off from everyone. Once you have isolated yourself it fuels bad mental health and makes it difficult for you to recover.
It’s an easy mistake to make, especially after you’ve experienced failure. Whether your relationship has broken down, you’re having a difficult time at work, or you have other issues occurring in your life.
After a failure, the automatic human response is a deep belief that you will never be good enough to succeed. So, rather than setting big goals, you lower your expectations to avoid every feeling this way again. Unfortunately, this fuels negative self-talk and restricts your growth as a person.
The great thing about people with self-confidence is that they are stronger at dealing with failures and refusals. They are more resistant to the fallout because they don’t look for ways to blame themselves.
When you’re too critical of yourself, your confidence drops and when others offer critiques you react strictly with yourself. This stifles your ability to move forward, as you begin to obsess over this criticism.
While guilt is not always a negative, it can get out of hand. There are times when guilt serves as a warning that you have misbehaved and that apologies are in order.
When you make those apologies, you mend a relationship and move forward. However, the guilt doesn’t disappear if you don’t do the right thing. Living with that tension can eat away at you.
When tragedy strikes, it is completely normal to try and understand the why and search for answers. However, feeding that cycle leaves you repeating the events and processing the same feelings repeatedly.
This leads to obsession and panic about what other tragedy could strike your life. This can provoke reactions that increase your stress levels, increasing your risk of substance abuse problems, heart disease, and of course, mental health problems.
You have probably heard that how you feel can impact on how you walk, however, did you realize that the opposite is also true?
According to a study (On Upright Posture Improves Affect And Fatigue In People With Depressive Symptoms, Wilkes) slouching while you walk leaves you in a worse mood than when you add a bit of pep to your step.
In addition to this discovery, researchers found that the slouching participants remembered more negatives than positives.
Do you stop to take pictures of… well, everything? From your trip to a museum or a meal out with friends? This can have a serious impact on how much of these moments you can recall later.
Psychological Science points to a study (Point & Shoot Memories, Henkel,) relating to how participants on a museum tour faired memory wise after the fact.
The objects that the group took photos of were more difficult for them to remember than the ones that they actually took the time to observe.
Therefore, not only can constantly taking pictures sap your happiness, it can also have a severe impact on your memories.
You Let The Bully Win
The same type of people who bully the other kids in school… are the exact same people who do the same as adults.
While some bullies grow out of their nasty ways, many of them simply adapt to their new environment, from college through to the workplace.
In fact, around 35% of the American workforce can expect to be the target of a bully (2010 WBI National Survey). Over 70% of workers will witness this in action.
This can leave you feeling volatile emotionally, and have an impact on your self-esteem. You may reach a point where you can’t bear the thought of going to work. If this sounds familiar to you, you should see your doctor.
You’ll also want to document these instances before taking the situation to HR. Don’t be a doormat for bullies simply to keep the peace, or because you’re afraid of sticking your head above the parapet. Your happiness matters.
A Lack of Exercise
You can reduce your risk of developing depression by 16% just by exercising (at least) three times every week.
A JAMA Psychiatry study (on depressive symptoms and physical activity, Pereira) found that 11,000 participants who exercised regularly were less likely to suffer from depression.
It can be difficult to get up and go, especially when you’re already dealing with a mental health problem, however, once you make the first move it gets easier as you go.
There are plenty of reasons that you may be putting a certain task or job off. It might be because you just don’t feel like doing it, but it could be a source of anxiety.
Do you put things off because you’re afraid that you will fail? Procrastinating won’t make it better, in fact, it will just create more anxiety.
The best way to tackle this type of situation is by doing something that relaxes you before you tackle the nerve-wracking project. Even better if a stress relieving activity can accompany the stressful project.
Many people are stunned at how great they feel after severing a toxic relationship. It’s common for people to feel stuck in these situations and not realize how they are fueling mental health issues.
It isn’t just romantic relationships that can be toxic. There are friendships that can drive your mental health around the bed, too.
If you’re in an abusive relationship then this situation is more complicated and you may want to take professional advice before you take steps to extract yourself from the situation.
Everything Is Always Serious
Do normal annoyances set you off? Does tripping in the office make you hide with embarrassment?
Does a smart comment from a friend offend you a bit too much? If you struggle to laugh things off then this can impact your mental health.
Laughter truly is one of the best medicines, so having an ability to laugh things off and take life less seriously is of serious benefit to your health.
If you lead a serious life or work in a serious industry, seek humor out wherever possible.
A Lack of Sleep
You probably know someone that has said they’ll catch up on their sleep when they die.
That kind of attitude will likely see them die much sooner than necessary because sleep is so important to your emotional and mental wellbeing.
It’s like rebooting your system, your body needs to regenerate and process the information from your day so that you’re fully rested and prepared to face the following day.
A lack of sleep can fuel mental health problems, likewise, mental health issues can interfere with sleep. It’s vitally important that you look after your sleep.
No Alone Time
Loneliness can create despair, but no alone time can increase your stress levels. Whether you’re surrounded by people in the workplace or your home is always full, there’s a good chance you find yourself hiding in the bathroom for just five minutes of blissful peace.
Ideally, you should find an entire hour to just be and do your own thing. If an hour is too much, try to carve out ten minutes for yourself every day. If you run a hectic schedule, pencil yourself in.
Your Voice Is Foreign To You
Have you ever started to speak only to realize your voice doesn’t sound like your own and you need to clear your throat? How often do you actually speak to other people?
Sorry, placing your order in the coffee shop doesn’t count as meaningful conversation.
Technology is wonderful, but it’s certainly made us far less social than we once were.
While it’s great to catch up with distant friends and loved ones, nothing can replace a face-to-face social connection. Get out there with someone you love at least once every week.
Your Cell Is Your Life
It’s one thing to find a cell phone handy, but to be lost without it is… worrying. Think about it, when was the last time you enjoyed a day without some type of mobile device? You might feel the need to be constantly connected, but it’s overstimulating you.
How can your body and mind rest if you’re always adding fuel to the fire? This is how anxiety and depression get a foothold in your life.
Try to give up electronic devices for an entire day every week. If you absolutely cannot manage a day, for whatever reason, try half the day.
The Ultimate Multitasker
Women tend to pride themselves on their ability to multitask, while stereotypically men are quite unable to handle a raft of jobs at once. Sadly, multi-tasking is detrimental to your mental health.
Guess what, you’re not being extra productive by multitasking either. You’re increasing your stress levels, completing jobs partially and with limited attention.
That’s not exactly the way to get things done. So, you might think you can watch television while you read a book, but do you think you’ll remember anything after? Focus your attention on one thing at a time.
The Couch Potato
When you feel a bit down you’re likely to land on the couch with junk food and eat yourself happy with a bit of a movie binge.
It’s a natural response, and it’s one that we are all guilty of. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to make you feel better, it’s going to have the opposite effect. Instead, go for a walk.
As noted above, regular exercise is vital to staving off mental health problems, but it can be particularly effective when you’re feeling overly emotional or vulnerable.
Feel free to relax on the couch after you fit in that walk, though, you’ll feel better and enjoy it more.
A Lack Of Brain Food
Omega 3 fatty acids are everything when it comes to your brain health and sadly, the majority of Americans aren’t eating enough of them. Most people immediately think of fish when they hear Omega 3, and if you’re not a fish lover it can be off-putting.
There’s good news, though, you can opt for a supplement or up your wild game intake. A lack of Omega 3 increases the risk of depression and anxiety.
A Lack Of Sunlight
The sun naturally boosts your mood. Not only does it help reset your body clock daily, it also triggers serotonin production, thus providing you with a sense of well-being and reducing anxiety.
If you live in a sunny climate then you probably don’t need to worry about this as much, but even the cloudy days of winter can affect your cycle.
You can remedy this by investing in an artificial light box.
You can set it to wake you up in the morning, or just spend half an hour in front of it. This is particularly helpful for anyone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder.
A Lack Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D isn’t just for building bone strength, it’s also necessary for your mental health. This is all well and good for those living in a sunny climate, but for anyone who doesn’t have that luxury they may need a supplement.
We actually need quite a lot of vitamin D on a daily basis. There are foods available that are Vitamin D fortified, include them in your diet along with cheese, fatty fish, and speak to your doctor about a supplement.
It is a trap! Your mind will replay negative thoughts and embarrassing situations ad nauseam. You will obsess over them, worry about them, and feel awful for days on end, even longer.
This is the quickest way to walk yourself into a serious mental health problem. It may be difficult to change your thought patterns, but you must actively shift your thinking away from these thoughts.
If you struggle to keep your mind away from obsessive thinking, try writing down those thoughts and throwing them away.
The Wrong Crowd
It isn’t just teenagers that get caught up hanging with the wrong types of people. You are what you eat and you are whom you spend time with.
Have you ever noticed that someone else’s bad mood has rubbed off on you? Stop hanging around people that are always negative, and spend time with optimistic types that are always upbeat and positive.
Carbs & Sugar
According to brainfacts.org, when you are depressed, your brain is inflamed, and your diet can contribute to the inflammation that you experience.
Two of the biggest inflammatory foods for your brain are simple carbs and sugar. If possible, cut them out entirely. Otherwise, cut right back and contrast with colorful vegetables and fruits, which are full of antioxidants. They have the added bonus of protecting Omega 3 fatty acids.
Whether it’s something that you do unintentionally or a purposeful choice, missing meals can have a serious impact on your anxiety levels. Your body runs low on fuel when you fail to feed it and this creates a decline in blood sugar levels.
In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic anxiety is a symptom of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Additionally, anxiety and hypoglycemia share many symptoms, including shaking, irritability, and heart palpitations.
There are many people, who don’t enjoy eating in the morning or don’t have time, but breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day and it should be your biggest one. If you can’t manage that, at least fit in a smoothie or eggs.
Obsessive Technology Use.
Do you constantly check your email just to make sure you haven’t missed anything? Are you constantly refreshing your social media page? It may feel handy to stay super connected all the time, but it’s harmful to your mental health.
The majority of American adults are on at least one social media site that they regularly check.
It’s a serious stress factor for most of them, because if you can’t connect you feel as though you’re missing out, thus increasing your stress over nothing. Enjoying time unplugged is important, it can free you from anxiety and stress and allow you to enjoy life more.
Excessive Coffee Drinking
That sweet nectar of life can do a lot of good for you, and even your brain health. However, if you happen to be sensitive to caffeine, it can send your nervous system into overdrive.
It triggers the body’s fight or flight stress response and your blood pressure spikes, increasing your heart rate, sending your body into a tizzy. Drinking too much caffeine can also mirror anxiety symptoms, so you should beware your intake. Don’t drink caffeinated beverages after 2pm.
What is your immediate reaction following a bad event or an unfortunate day? Do you move on, or do you start blaming yourself for something that was entirely out of your control? If you’re fidgeting right now because you’re guilty of the latter then your negative self-talk is fueling feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
You can reduce your stress levels by finding the positive in every situation. Don’t beat yourself up when something isn’t going your way, dust yourself off, and promise to get it right the next time.
For many, alcohol is simply something to enjoy in a social setting. Unfortunately, for others, it is something they turn to after a difficult day. You drink to feel better, to relax, and unwind, but when it starts to wear off you feel more anxious than you did before.
The reason for this is alcohol initially causes an increase in serotonin production, leaving you feeling amazing. When the alcohol wears off, your serotonin decreases dramatically, leaving your mood low. Don’t turn to alcohol as a means of self-medication, it will only fuel mental health problems.
The same can be said of smoking, you turn to cigarettes when you feel anxious, but it isn’t helping you calm your nerves. The initial calm the cigarette brings is merely temporary.
You see, the more you smoke the more you need to smoke them. You have a nicotine addiction, which is intensifying the cravings.
Therefore, while your initial cigarette will give you a boost your body will soon need another. Yes, quitting produces withdrawal symptoms, however, they are but temporary and the long-term effect will be improved mental health and physical health, too.
It doesn’t matter what type of substances you turn to, they may be fueling your mental health problems. You might get an immediate boost after imbibing, but it will wear off and you will only feel worse after. It’s also the quickest way to an addiction.
Sitting isn’t just bad for your overall physical health, it’s not great for your mental health either. There has been a significant link found between anxiety and a sedentary lifestyle (according to a systematic review, Teychenne). You already know that you should be exercising at least three times a week, but you should also get up and move around every half hour.
Fluids are just as important to your mental health as your diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration can result in light-headedness, muscle fatigue, increased heart rate, anxiety, panic, and confusion.
Poor hydration leaves you with low blood pressure, an ability to concentrate, and exhausted. If your body can’t function properly, how will your mind? It’s easier than you realize to end up dehydrated so take care to drink plenty of water throughout your day.
If someone cutting you off in traffic or a nasty comment is enough to implode your day… you’re guilty of being oversensitive.
Your cortisol levels will only increase causing you to gain weight, your bone density to drop, a decrease in your immune system, and more.
Learning to let things go is the key to improving your mental health. You can’t meltdown at every inconvenience or slight.
Constantly Seeking Approval
This is a surefire way to find yourself in a situation that backfires.
When you constantly try to read people, you’re providing yourself with mental obstacles that impact your responses and that of the other person you’re seeking approval from.
Believe in yourself will boost your self-confidence and it shows in your actions and words.
Don’t get caught up second-guessing every decision you have ever made in your life. It will eat away at you as you imagine what could have happened had you chose differently. Mindful meditation is an excellent way to stay in the present.
Too Good For Meds
If your doctor has recommended anti-depressants, don’t be afraid to take them. They can be a great help to get you back on track and are often just a short-term, temporary measure to help you heal from the worst of it.
Everyone faces a different mental health struggle. You may know someone going through their own struggles, but remember the things that help them might not help you. Don’t allow that to get you down.
Ignoring Your Problems
There’s a difference between moving on and trying to pretend that your problems don’t exist. If you clean your home by pushing everything under the furniture is it really clean? No, and your mental health is the same. You need to process your emotions, not box them up and ignore them.
Your mental health is serious, and many mental health issues can be life-threatening. If you feel as though you are struggling with yours, the most effective steps to take would be to visit a medical professional.
You are probably realizing now just how big a part you play in your own mental health struggles. It can be difficult to take control of these decisions, especially when you’re in the midst of a mental health problem, however, the easiest way to overcome mental health issues is by addressing the bad habits in your life that may be fueling your illness.
You don’t have to change your life overnight, but you should start addressing the habits listed above. If you are struggling with a substance abuse problem or addiction, you should speak to your doctor, especially if you are on medication for your illness.
Alcohol and drugs can interact negatively with anti-depressants, rendering them useless. It may seem like there’s no light at the end of the dark tunnel, but there is, you just have to reach out and strive to reach it. It’s important to remember that there are always people in your life to help you get there.