Bad habits for our mental health tend to go ignored.

We all have some “bad” habits.  While having bad habits is part of being human, sometimes they turn “toxic” and can negatively affect our mental health.  From time to time, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate how much our habits are hurting us. 

Bad mental health habits are behaviors that have a negative effect on the way we think and the way we feel about ourselves.

We often believe our mood and our mental health are solely dependent on external factors and we only have little ability to control them. We often wonder why we get so easily irritated, upset, sad, lethargic, and bored in life. As a solution, we try to improve our mood and cope with stress by engaging in unhealthy behaviors. This, unfortunately, makes our mood even worse.

Here are a few common bad habits that impact your mental health, making you unhappy and unsatisfied with your life:

1. Comparing Your Life to Others’

We compare ourselves with others and then make judgments about how successful we are based on these comparisons. There are upward comparisons (with people who seem to have it better than us) and downward comparisons (with those who seem to have it worse than we do). We often feel better about our lives and accomplishments when making downward comparisons and feel bad about ourselves when making upward comparisons. The problem is that we never really know what is going on beneath the surface of other people’s lives. So when you compare, you are comparing your insides to everybody else’s outsides, as the saying goes.

We can always find an area in which we’re not as good as others, such as appearance, athletic skill, or career achievement. Comparison puts a lot of pressure on you because we all have different circumstances.

The best comparison to make is what you know and are doing today, compared to last month or last year. This type of comparison takes your individual circumstances and ability into account.

2. Perfectionism

Positive perfectionism helps you do your best – as a perfectionist, you never deliver anything short of your absolute finest work. Habits of positive perfectionism include: setting realistic goals, letting go of failures, seeing mistakes as opportunities for growth, keeping anxiety and stress within healthy boundaries, and enjoying the process as well as the outcome.

Habits of negative perfection includes setting standards beyond your reach, dissatisfaction with anything less than perfection, preoccupation with failure or disapproval, and seeing mistakes as evidence of unworthiness. Research shows that negative perfectionism is a bad habit that causes distress, fear of making mistakes, disharmony, uncertainty, and anxiety about judgment from others.

3. Procrastination

Lot’s of people try to get away with their duties and try to delay them. An attitude like ‘“we’ll do it tomorrow”. The effects of this  behaviour may not seem all that bad at first, but over time, those effects can build, leading to stress, anxiety, broken dreams, and low self-esteem.

4. Lack of personal goals

Goal-oriented behavior is what activates our reward system. This has a huge influence on our mood and happiness. If you don’t push yourself to achieve your goals, even small goals, you will not feel fulfilled and you are likely to seek unhealthy ways to activate your brain reward system.

Also, not focusing on achieving your goals leaves you feeling like you are stagnating in your life and that can easily trigger poor mood and depression.

Try to get used to making to-do lists that allow you to prioritise the most important things you need to do. Always keep your deadlines realistic as you make your way down the list.

5. Focusing on the bad

For those of you who find yourselves constantly focusing on the bad instead of the good, you may also find yourself suffering from feelings of stress and worry. Tip: Try mindfulness meditation, it’s a form of meditation that forces you to focus and become aware of the present moment. Positive people recognize meditation as an act of healing and rejuvenation. It helps relieve any negativity that may be weighing you down. It may also help increase your self-confidence, reduce anxiety, improve your concentration and reduce stress.

6. Lacking of “Me Time”

When do you get time for yourself—between work, family, marriage, and social responsibilities? If the answer is never, you’ve pinpointed a prime source of stress and irritability. Book at least 15 minutes each day for you, you and no one else but you. Everyone deserves a mental time out to do something they enjoy.

7. Isolating

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, we  invite you to pick up the phone and text or call someone close to you or reach out to professional. Even for only five minutes.

8. Not sleeping enough

Sleep is generally referred to as a source of both emotional and physical resilience. It provides the human body and brain an opportunity to recover from the stresses of the previous day.

Good sleep helps the brain and the body rise to the challenges of tomorrow. When you skip sleep for a day or two it can make you restless and unsettled, but a poor sleeping habit over time can cause more damage to your mental health.

Research shows people who suffer from poor mental health do not have good sleeping habits.

9. Overuse of social media

It‘s important to stay connected, but equally important to monitor your screen time and avoid the unnecessary stress and self-esteem issues that can be caused by spending too much time on social media. To break this attachment, be mindful and limit your social media use to certain hours of the day, and use this time to speak with friends and family instead.

10. Lack of physical exercise

Quality exercise is commonly known as one of the most crucial factors for maintaining physical health and mental health. In some studies, adequate exercise has been shown to have a more positive effect than antidepressants for treating anxiety symptoms.

Exercise is popularly known to help release a hormone (endorphins) secreted by the central nervous system that improves the state of mind in many ways, from giving clarity to improving our mood and suppressing unnecessary stress.

When it comes to mental health, these little habits listed above can be a problem for you. To stop these habits takes time, but you can make adjustments to boost your mental health with determination and practice.

If you feel like your habits are a source of difficulty for you, and you need some advice on how to change them, you can reach out to a qualified mental health professional.