Updated: Jul 30
We all have bad habits that can have a negative impact on our health, from smoking to drinking too much alcohol. But it’s not just physical health that we need to worry about—our mental health matters too. And if you’re not careful, some of your everyday habits could affect your mental well-being without you even realizing it. Here are ten common bad habits that may be contributing to an unbalanced mental state:
1. Not taking time for yourself.
Taking time for yourself is not a bad habit, but it is something that many of us don't do enough of. When we're busy with work and family life, it can be hard to remember that we need some me-time too.
But taking time for yourself isn't just about getting a manicure or going on vacation--it's also about making sure you have an hour or two each day where nothing else matters except relaxing and doing something that makes you happy (or at least makes you feel good). If this sounds like something that would help your mental health, here are some tips:
Set aside 30 minutes each day where there's no chance of getting distracted by anything else (phone calls from friends or family members asking questions; emails from coworkers requesting information). Then commit yourself fully during those 30 minutes--no phone calls allowed! Just sit back and relax while reading a book or listening to music; maybe even take a nap if possible! This will help ensure that when those distractions come up later in the day, they won't ruin what was supposed to be quality "me" time. * If possible, try not just sitting down and doing absolutely nothing but rather engaging in some activity such as painting/drawing/writing, etc., which helps release endorphins into our brains, thereby helping reduce anxiety levels over time
2. Having an erratic sleep schedule.
You may be one of many people who don't get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation reports that about 40% of Americans don't get enough, and for many of them, it's because they're working too hard or spending too much time on social media.
If you're having trouble getting enough shut-eye, here are some tips for improving your sleeping habits:
Try going to bed at the same time every night. This will help regulate your body's internal clock to know when it should wake up each morning (and, therefore, when it needs to start producing melatonin).
Avoid caffeine and nicotine before bedtime; both substances have been shown in studies to interfere with sleep quality by increasing alertness at night and reducing REM sleep--the deepest stage of slumber where most dreaming occurs.* Use relaxation techniques such as meditation or mindfulness before lying in bed. * Don't drink alcohol within two hours before going to bed, as alcohol will disrupt deep sleep cycles.*
Finally, if all else fails, try taking melatonin supplements which are available online or from health food stores.
3. Eating too many sugars, fats, and processed foods.
Eating too many sugars, fats, and processed foods can lead to weight gain. The associated health problems are well-documented: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. But these habits can also have an impact on your mental health.
The brain is made up of about 60% fat (the same as olive oil), so it needs the right kind of fats to function properly - omega 3s from oily fish or seeds such as flaxseed; monounsaturated fats found in nuts and avocado; saturated fats from meat or dairy products that help us absorb vitamins A & D from our food but too much-saturated fat increases cholesterol levels as well as increasing risk of heart disease if consumed excessively over time which could lead to depression due to poor circulation around the body causing nerve damage leading up into areas like hands feet, legs, and arms.
4. Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine.
It's not uncommon to hear someone say they're addicted to coffee, but the same can be said for alcohol. "The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism define alcohol dependence as a chronic relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over consumption, and an inability to stop drinking," says Dr. Sharon Olson, licensed clinical psychologist and director at The Behavior Therapy Center in Los Angeles. "Caffeine also acts as a stimulant in our bodies," adds Dr. Olson--and if you're consuming too much of it regularly (the average American drinks 3 cups per day), your body may become dependent on this stimulant just like any other drug would be; this can lead to withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using caffeine altogether."
5. Ignoring your feelings.
Ignoring your feelings is a bad habit that can have a negative impact on your mental health. The more you ignore them, the more likely it is that they will become overwhelming and cause depression. It's important to know when you are feeling bad and why because ignoring those feelings will not make them go away or make them easier to deal with later on; in fact, it makes things worse! If you ignore something until it becomes too much for you to handle, this will lead to anxiety or panic attacks rather than just feeling sad about something specific, like losing someone close who was important in our lives (and therefore making us feel grief).
How do we deal with negative feelings? Well, first off, by recognizing them as being normal human responses - everyone experiences some sort of sadness at some point during their lives, but if these feelings become overwhelming, then there may be an underlying issue that needs addressing, such as a deepest irrational belief. Something I commonly work with my clients on defining, and inevitably they find it has permeated every facet of their thought life.
Additionally, something called Name it Tame it is helpful in taming the strong feelings. But, first you must name the emotion/feeling accurately. Most of us sit on the surface with feelings (inner circle in the graphic), but, research has shown if we can more deeply define what we are feeling, it lessens its painful effect on us.
6. Checking social media too often.
Social media is a form of self-medication, and it can be addictive. When you're feeling low, it may seem like checking your phone will help lift your spirits--but that's not always true. If you find yourself constantly checking social media when there are more important things to do (like work), then this habit may be affecting your mental health in negative ways.
If social media is interfering with other aspects of your life or causing anxiety and stress, try limiting how much time you spend on it each day by putting limits on yourself when using these apps: set an alarm every hour or so to remind yourself not to use them until later in the day; delete some apps altogether; or consider deleting all apps except one specific app (such as Twitter) so that its use is limited only within certain times of day rather than being available 24/7 via multiple platforms.
7. Not getting enough exercise.
Being sedentary is not good for your mental health. A lack of exercise can lead to depression, anxiety, and stress--and even an increased risk of suicide. Exercise also helps with sleep and weight control, which are both important factors in maintaining emotional well-being.
Exercise improves mood by releasing endorphins that make you feel happy, boosting self-esteem while lowering stress levels and anxiety (the latter, especially if you're prone to panic attacks). It can also help manage anger by giving you time to cool down before reacting impulsively or aggressively toward others who may have upset you.
8. Exercising too much intensity or duration.
Exercise is good for you. It helps to relieve stress, improves mood, and boosts energy levels. But too much can be bad for your mental health.
Aerobic exercise is great for physical health, but if you push yourself too hard or run for too long, it can have a negative effect on your mental well-being.
It's important to find the right balance between intensity and duration so that your workouts are effective but not detrimental to how you feel afterward (or during).
9. Having a messy or cluttered living space at home or workplace.
If you have a messy or cluttered living space at home or workplace, it can be hard to relax. A cluttered space can also contribute to feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Having an organized living area helps you feel more relaxed and in control of your life. You'll feel more relaxed when you come home from work because everything has been put away neatly rather than having piles of clutter around the house. It also makes it easier for visitors to relax when they come over since they won't be surrounded by clutter while visiting friends or family members who live with them. **Read about how cluttered space decreases mental health HERE
10. Overworking or not taking enough time off from work to rest and recharge your batteries.
Working too much can cause you to feel stressed, anxious, and depressed. If you don't take enough time off from work to rest and recharge your batteries, you may burn out or get sick. And if this happens regularly (or even just once), it could affect your mental health in a big way.
So how much is too much? The American Psychological Association recommends taking at least two weeks off per year; however, if you love what you do and find yourself working more hours than usual because of it--that's fine! Just make sure that when things calm down again (i.e., after the holidays), there are still breaks built into the schedule so that everyone can relax without feeling guilty about taking time away from their job responsibilities. Another great way to manage this is by utilizing the Pomodor Method.
You can improve your mental health by taking care of yourself in these ways:
Getting enough sleep and eating well, which will help you feel more energized and less stressed out.
Practicing mindfulness or focusing on the present moment without judgment or expectation (e.g., walking outside).
So much more!
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By spreading this knowledge, we can raise awareness about the importance of taking care of our mental well-being. Together, we can create a better world for everyone.
If you or someone you know is in need of mental health counseling, join our practice. We are currently accepting new clients and would be honored to support you on your journey to better mental health. Don't hesitate to reach out and schedule an appointment with us today. Remember, your well-being is our priority.