Bad habits for our mental health tend to go ignored.
We’re all well aware of the habits that affect our physical health – smoking, not exercising, etc. We know that these are bad for us and that we need to cut these out.
However, we don’t tend to show the habits that have a negative impact on our mental health, mindset or emotions the same energy.
Here are a few bad habits that a lot of us have picked up that we might not even KNOW are bad habits for your mental health.
#1. Keeping quiet about your problems
We know we shouldn’t bottle up our feelings, emotions and worries. However, it’s not always easy to be open.
A lot of us struggle to open up to the people closest to us in fear of either hurting them because they hold themselves responsible, or showing our vulnerability to those we want to see us as strong.
We KNOW we should be talking to people around us about our (and their) mental health. We KNOW this. We know that a problem shared is usually a problem halved.
But when it actually comes down to it, we hesitate.
We don’t even realise how much we’re bottling up because we talk too much inside our own heads. Our inner monologues know our problems VERY well.
Sharing your worries can be really helpful for your mental health and help ease the burden.
This is why talking therapy, if accessible to you, can be beneficial because you can vent to someone who doesn’t know you personally.
#2. Exercising… too much
Exercise is amazing for our mental and physical wellbeing.
It helps boost endorphins (a happy hormone), relieves anxiety, and stops you from sitting still all day.
However, there is such thing as too much exercise.
If you’re over-exercising, not only will you start to resent it, your body won’t have time to recover and this can impact your mental health.
Being sore, tired and achy all the time is no fun and your body is in a constant state of needing to repair itself. This takes away energy that you could be using more productively, or even for self-care.
This leads me to my next point…
The No Days Off mentality isn’t a healthy one. At all.
This doesn’t just apply to exercise – it also applies to work and social life.
We need down time just to do NOTHING.
We need to recharge our social batteries.
If we don’t, we risk falling into a bad mental state.
And we need to know when time alone is more sensible than going out.
This doesn’t mean never see your friends or don’t smash your goals. Just recognise when you need a breather.
Listen to your body and brain, be self-aware, and understand why it’s okay to take a day off.
#4. ‘Clean’ eating
Now, I know what you’re going to say: aren’t we SUPPOSED to eat “clean” and healthily.
Well, to me, eating healthy doesn’t mean living off fruit and vegetables. It means eating what you want, when you feel like it.
It means nourishing your body and listening to what it needs, not depriving yourself, and enjoying your relationship with food.
I invite you to stop stressing about cooking 100% clean, whole foods all the time.
The anxiety and stress of trying to be “good” all the time is exhausting.
Live a little. Enjoy your food!
#5. Getting up early
Most of the world’s big-hitters and multi-millionaires swear by waking up at 5am to fit more into the day.
The problem is, this simply isn’t possible for everyone.
Sleep deprivation is no joke and if you’re not falling asleep early enough to offset the hours of sleep you’re missing out on, you’re not going to feel too great.
I know that if I miss out on a good night’s sleep, it feels detrimental to my mental health.
Getting enough sleep is much more important than waking up early. It’s crucial self-care.
You’ll function much better and be much more productive getting up at 8am after going to bed before midnight, than you would lying in bed wide awake from 7pm, only to fall asleep at midnight and having to get up five hours later.
#6. Expecting the worst
When you suffer with depression or anxiety, sometimes thinking the worst about a situation feels like self-preservation.
If you expect the worst and it happens, you won’t be as disappointed, right? Nothing can hurt you.
This type of negative, pessimistic thinking not only impacts your mental health severely, as you never truly allow yourself to feel hope – a crucial element in feeling genuinely happy – it also means you’re more likely to experience negative things.
You’re less likely to push for positive outcomes, more likely to see the bad in a neutral situation, and more likely to attract negative people, who will pull you down further.
#7. Saying “yes”
Saying yes to everything can be really bad for our mental health. Or, more specifically, not knowing when to say “no”.
Not allowing yourself to say “no” can hurt us for a few reasons.
It can lead to us taking on more tasks than we want to or can manage comfortably.
It can lead us into anxious situations we don’t want to be in.
It can perpetuate the need to be a people-pleaser, which most of us who suffer with anxiety already struggle with.
And I get it because I’m awful for this.
I always want to make people happy and I always want people to like me. The idea of someone not liking me for some reason really sets my anxiety on edge and that’s something I’m trying to work through with my therapist.
Learning to say “no” protects you and create crucial boundaries.
It’s an act of self-care in itself.
#8. Not Having Boundaries
Not enforcing strong boundaries with those around you is a really bad habit for your mental health.
It’s one thing to create boundaries, it’s another to enforce them.
If people learn they can overstep your boundaries, they will continue to do so and you’ll feel disrespected.
When you create boundaries, try to make sure you enforce them so that people know they can’t just walk all over you and be allowed to do so.
#9. Putting self-care on the back-burner
Practising self-care every. single. day. is CRUCIAL for our mental health.
It’s kind of like housekeeping for our brains: We NEED to take care of our minds and emotions as well as our bodies.
When we put self-care on the back-burner or tell ourselves that other stuff is more important, not only are we neglecting our mental, emotional and physical needs, we’re telling ourselves that we’re not unworthy.
This can have a knock-on affect on our mental health and self-esteem.
You ARE worthy of self-care. You deserve to feel good.
#10. Isolating yourself
I know that when my mental health is bad, I tend to isolate.
I go into myself and hide there away from the world.
However, important to notice when this becomes an issue.
Alone time is good, but humans are social creatures by nature, and not having any human contact for weeks on end is a really bad habit for your mental health.
If you’re going through this, I invite you to pick up the phone and text or call someone close to you. Even for only five minutes.
#11. Avoiding alone time
While isolating yourself from the outside world and everyone around you is mentally unhealthy, having time to yourself is important.
Private reflection in the form of meditation or journaling helps to increase self-awareness, which is key to growing and improving as a person.
I invite you to get to know yourself – warts and all.
Learn how you like to spend your time when no-one else is around, what TV shows you like to watch, your favourite yoga stretches, your favourite types of self-care, and so on.
Try to get comfortable just being in your own company.
Understanding who you are at your core as a human being and ultimately learning self love is a really illuminating and liberating experience.