By now I think most of us know what we need to do to look after our mental health, even if in reality we don’t actually practice all of the recommendations. But what about the habits that harm our mental health and wellbeing? Those little things that we do without really thinking about it.
It’s easy to overlook the subtle habits that can slowly chip away at our mental health and overall wellbeing, sometimes without us even realising it’s happening until it’s too late.
We notice the major life stressors such as work, financial difficulties, and family strains, but often it’s the everyday routines and behaviors that go unnoticed, yet they can have a significant impact on our emotional state.
We’re all guilty of them, and sometimes it’s not that obvious until someone else points them out. For this reason I thought I’d blog about some of the most common but often overlooked habits that can harm your mental health without you realising it. Maybe reading this list will give you the wake up call you need to form some new, healthier habits and make positive changes that will contribute to a happier and healthier life. Stopping some of these toxic habits it is the best way to improve your mental wellbeing.
So let’s have a look at 7 of the most common habits that harm your mental health and wellbeing without you realising…
Excessive Social Media Use
We know that social media harms mental health, but often we don’t realise just how much we use it. 5 minutes here and there throughout the day often adds up to a lot more than you think.
Social media has become an integral part of our lives, how else do you remember birthdays or see if an old school friend has had their baby yet? However, excessive use of social media can really take a toll on our mental health. Constantly scrolling through social media platforms can lead to unhealthy comparisons, feelings of inadequacy, and a distorted sense of reality. Additionally, the blue light emitted by screens can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to fatigue and mood disturbances.
By setting boundaries and limiting your time on social media, you can protect your safety and wellbeing as well as prioritise real-life connections. If you don’t already have one, why not download an app that shows how long you spend on your smartphone each day and where you spend your time. You might be surprised!
I’m definitely guilty of this myself at times and while striving for excellence can work in your favour, perfectionism can be exhausting and detrimental to emotional well being and mental health.
The constant need to achieve flawlessness can lead to self-criticism, anxiety, and a fear of failure. Perfectionists often set unrealistic standards for themselves, causing chronic stress and burnout.
Embracing a growth mindset and focusing on progress rather than perfection can help alleviate the pressure and promote a healthier mindset.
Something I’m quite passionate about is self-care, but it’s often overlooked or pushed aside in our busy lives. Neglecting self-care can lead to increased stress levels, reduced resilience, and a decline in your overall wellbeing. It’s so important to take time for yourself, engage in activities you enjoy, practice relaxation techniques, and prioritise restful sleep as all of these things are essential for maintaining good mental health.
If you have been neglecting your self care needs, it’s time to treat yourself better! By carving out moments for self care, no matter how small, you can recharge, reduce stress, and nurture your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Unhealthy Eating Habits
I ate a McDonalds today so I’m probably not the best person to talk about this right now, but the food we consume can significantly impact our mental health. Diets that are high in processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats have been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
Skipping meals or relying on quick, unhealthy snacks can also lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels, affecting mood stability.
It’s important to take care of your mind and body, and opting for a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can support brain health and promote positive mental wellbeing. And let’s be honest, in a balanced diet, a burger every now and then isn’t going to hurt!
Neglecting Physical Activity
When was the last time you exercised? Regular exercise isn’t only beneficial for your physical health but also plays a crucial role in maintaining your mental wellbeing. Spending too much time sitting still can contribute to feelings of lethargy, low mood, and decreased motivation.
Engaging in physical activity releases endorphins, the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals, promoting feelings of happiness and reducing stress.
You don’t have to try and find time to spend hours in the gym or run a marathon, let’s be honest not many of us have time for that! Self care at home includes incorporating even small amounts of exercise into your routine, such as taking short walks or practicing yoga at home, can have a positive impact on your mental health.
A small habit that harms your mental health that you might not have considered is suppressing your emotions. Often we bottle everything up, believing that showing vulnerability is a sign of weakness. However, bottling up emotions can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and even depression.
It’s really important to acknowledge and express our feelings in healthy ways, whether through journaling or blogging, talking to a trusted friend, or seeking professional support.
Allowing yourself to feel and process emotions can lead to greater emotional resilience and improved mental wellbeing. As well as giving you more head space to take care of yourself and your family.
Lack of Boundaries
Setting boundaries is really important for our mental health. Failing to set boundaries in various aspects of life, whether at work or in your social life, can take a toll on mental health and wellbeing.
Overcommitting, saying “yes” when you really want to say “no,” and taking on excessive responsibilities can lead to chronic stress and burnout. Learning to say “no” when needed, setting limits on work hours, and prioritising self-care are essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It’s also important to set boundaries with people who have a negative impact on your mental health, distancing yourself from them where possible.
Personal self care includes establishing clear boundaries helps protect your mental wellbeing and allows you to focus on what truly matters.
By becoming more aware of these small habits that harm your mental health, you can take proactive steps to make positive changes in your life. Limiting social media use, embracing imperfection, practicing self-care, adopting a healthy diet and exercise routine, expressing emotions, and setting boundaries are all small but impactful ways to support your mental wellbeing.
Remember, it’s the cumulative effect of all of these habits over time that can significantly influence our mental health. Take control of your wellbeing by making conscious choices and nurturing a positive and balanced lifestyle.