Bad Habits to Avoid for Better Mental Health

You know what they say, there is no health without mental health. As someone in recovery, you are most likely making conscious choices to take care of both your mind and body. But despite your best efforts, you may have established some seemingly harmless habits that are actually negatively impacting your mental health. Learn what they are and how you can kick those habits to the curb. 

Being a couch potato can be fun – Netflix marathons, tasty snacks, and the comfort of your home. But when lounging around goes from being a way to unwind every once in a while, and becomes your everyday lifestyle, it can start to affect your overall well-being.

Research shows that a sedimentary lifestyle takes a tremendous toll on your mental health. Various studies show that those who spend most of their time sitting and do not exercise have triple the risk of experiencing depressive symptoms. Other studies have linked a lack of exercise to an increased risk for developing dementia. And, although limited, another study suggests that inactivity chances the neurons in the brain, therefore altering how our minds function.

Incorporating some form of exercise into your life is important. Being active helps reduce stress, release endorphins, improve self-confidence, alleviate anxiety, and boost brain power. Remember, exercise isn’t limited to cardio sessions or weightlifting at the gym. Try different things until you find what works for you.

There’s almost nothing that your phone can’t do. The ability to order lunch, get directions, pay bills, check your credit score, and call a cab is literally at the palm of your hand. And while technology is great at making your life easier, it can also negatively impact your mental health.

Various studies have linked an overuse of social media to an increase in anxiety and lowering of self-esteem. And it’s not just teens being affected. Adults who regularly use Facebook and Twitter report feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, and loneliness. Although social media is meant to connect people to one another, in reality, many people are so focused on how they appear on social media that they miss out on forming genuine in-person connections.

And if you’re thinking that your phone isn’t negatively affecting you because you don’t have Facebook, think again. Tasks you might think of as harmless such as constantly checking your emails or receiving news alerts on your phone add to your stress levels and can lead to excessive worrying, lowering your overall quality of life.

Now, we are not suggesting that you throw away your new Iphone X and move to a cabin in the woods, but reducing your screen time can do wonders for your mind. Start small, and set some phone-free time aside every day. Use that time to try a hobby, read a book, take a bath, or just relax your mind. In no time you’ll realize that you actually enjoy taking a break from your phone.

Do you pride yourself on your ability to internalize your emotions and put on a smile no matter the situation? While being able to keep your cool is often necessary, studies show that suppressing emotions, particularly anger, can be detrimental to your mental health. Neglecting your emotional needs can make it more difficult for you to say no, establish boundaries, and form healthy relationships. It can also cause anxiety, depression, and lower self-esteem. And overtime, bottling up your anger makes you a ticking time bomb that can be set off by the smallest inconvenience.

You don’t want to be the person aggressively yelling at the cashier because she won’t accept your expired coupon but you also don’t want to be constantly biting your tongue and then beating yourself up for not standing up for yourself. Finding a happy medium with your anger is key. Remember, anger isn’t a problem, if you manage it properly.

Some healthy ways of expressing your anger include venting to a friend, pouring out your feelings in a letter (Don’t worry, you don’t have to mail it. Just writing down your feelings can be therapeutic.), channeling your anger into other activities such as sports, music, or art, and of course – talking it out with the person who caused your anger.

Is your room, house, or office starting to look like an episode of Hoarders? If so, get ready to do some spring cleaning! Being surrounded by clutter could be holding you back from living your life to the fullest. Messy environments exacerbate anxiety and depression, reduce motivation, weaken decision-making skills, lower productivity, and make you feel overwhelmed. Clutter also closes you off to new experiences.

Tackling a cluttered space is probably the last thing you want to do during your free time, but if you chip away at in steps it won’t feel so overwhelming. Start small, pick an area you want to work on, blast your favorite music, and get to it. Remember, getting rid of clutter doesn’t mean throwing everything into a large bin or shoving it in the attic. For decluttering to really work, you must get rid of stuff you no longer use or need. Throwing stuff away can be a great stress reliever. And while decluttering your home might be a project that takes a few weeks to complete, you’ll feel like a weight has been lifted once you’re done.

Taking someone’s feelings into consideration is essential for healthy relationships. But when you begin to neglect your own feelings to appease someone’s else’s you could find yourself on slippery slope into a codependent relationship. It can happen easily and without you noticing. One moment you’re in a balanced relationship, and the next, you’re only doing things they enjoy, spending all holidays with their family, doing what works with their schedule, and forgetting about your own needs.

Revolving your life around someone else’s can significantly lower your self-esteem, prevent you from establishing boundaries, increase feelings of shame, rejection, abandonment, anger, resentment, and hopelessness. It also rises your risk of depression.

Who you are and how you feel about yourself shouldn’t depend on someone else. It is important for you to be your own person outside of your relationship. Start by setting some time for yourself ⎼ rediscover who you are and what you’re passionate about. Take time to unwind, try a new hobby, and spend time with someone other than the person you’re dependent on. It is also important that you practice good communication and let the other person know how you feel and set some boundaries.

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