Even though it might seem normal to feel overwhelmed and stressed 24/7 in the world we live in, it’s not and it shouldn’t be. Millions of Americans experience mental health disorders like anxiety and depression and whether you fall into that category or not, prioritizing your psychological health is a must. Everyone experiences negative emotions and while some people cope better than others, there’s more to managing overwhelm than simply thinking happy thoughts and practicing deep breathing. You might actually be sabotaging your mental well-being without even realizing it! Here are some things you probably do all the time that have a seriously adverse effect on your mental health:
#1 Bad Posture
The consequences of slouching are worse than merely having bad manners. It puts pressure on your spine and internal organs and influences how you feel. Sitting up straight isn’t just about having good etiquette —it’s good for your overall health, and that means both physical and mental. Studies show that a good posture correlates with reduced symptoms of depression, increased energy levels, and a more positive attitude.
#2 Constantly Trying To Be Productive
Our culture is fast-paced and result-oriented. The consequence is, that most of us focus on and feel a deep need to be productive at all times. Even when we’re relaxing, the focus is on ‘recharging’ so we can be more productive later. We rarely set aside time to just think. This lack of time to reflect and process is harmful to our mental health. Being productive all the time, or feeling like you need to be, can amplify feelings of anxiety and irritability. It’s okay to take a break.
#3 Worrying Too Much About Being Nice
Kindness can affect both the giver and receiver in a positive way—but worrying about whether or not you’re ‘nice enough’ can actually hurt you. Feeling anxious when you think about how others perceive you can be a huge drain on your energy. You need to remember that your needs must be met before you can give to others. If you forget to leave some mental energy for yourself, you could find yourself suffering from burn-out or depression.
#4 Bottling Up Your Feelings
While you should always respond rather than react in any given situation, you still need to take the time to process difficult emotions like anger, grief, or sadness. Bottling up your emotions might feel easy now, but it damages your mental health and overall wellbeing in the long run. If you notice that something continues to bother you, don’t let it slide. Speak up. Holding grudges will always hurt you the most – and as the tension and turmoil increase, so does the pressure. Eventually, those bottled-up emotions explode – creating conflict that would have been easier to handle in small doses.
#5 Spending Too Much Time Alone
Everyone needs some ‘me time’ once in a while, and taking time to yourself can increase your physical and emotional health—but too much time alone can be a bad thing. Even introverts need some level of daily social interaction to ward off feelings of isolation. Being cooped up inside every minute of every day can cause loneliness and depression to creep up. Call a friend, video-chat with a family member, or just take a walk. If you can’t remember the last time you went outside or talked to someone, you could be harming your mental health.
#6 Not Keeping A Budget
If you don’t budget, you could be spending more than you’re making without even knowing it. It’s totally normal to stress about money—after all, having enough means having security. But financial stressors are also one of the worst things when it comes to your mental health. Budgeting is about keeping track of what you spend – but it’s also about changing your habits. If money causes you daily worry, you need to take advantage of the power you have to reduce or eliminate your financial issues. If you want to improve your mental health, consider lessening the amount of money you spend on wants, negotiating your bills for lower rates, and creating an emergency fund.
#7 Not Setting Goals
With the news at your fingertips and the notifications of social media constantly pinging, it’s easy to get distracted. Many people see their big picture’ become cloudier and ‘further away’ over time. For some, it’s because they’ve never really imagined it, to begin with. For others, long-term dreams become neglected for the day-to-day distractions. Either way, if you’re not setting goals and working toward them, you’ll start to feel like life is passing you by. If you want to increase your mental wellness, you need to establish your priorities in life. Then, create goals that align with your values, and work toward them every day. If you can stay focused on what really matters to you, you’ll notice that your mind will be happier and healthier.
#8 Comparing Yourself To Others
Perfection is an impossible idea. And while it’s easy to say that “it’s okay to make mistakes” and “nobody’s perfect,” sometimes it’s harder to apply those ideas to yourself. When you compare yourself to others, you’re doing everyone an injustice. If you focus on what makes you unique (like your skills and potential) only in comparison to other people, there will always be someone who ‘outdoes’ you—and you’ll always end up feeling bad. Instead, concentrate on where you are on your path of growth. Everyone learns different things, at different paces, at different times in their lives. Where you’re at is just as valid as where everyone else is.
#9 Starting And Ending The Day On Your Phone
Most people are inseparable from their phones, but sometimes, this type of connection can be more harmful than helpful—especially at the beginning and end of your day. It’s easy to form the habit of picking up your phone when you wake up, and end the day scrolling. Many people even charge their phones right next to their beds. But the emails, to-do lists, social media feeds, games, and everything else is just creating a barrage of distractions and ideas that cloud your mind. For the sake of your mental wellbeing, at least try to minimize technology as you start and end your day.
#10 Not Getting Enough Sleep
Insomnia is no joke, and after some time of tossing and turning in bed, it’s easy to turn on the TV or grab your phone or tablet. But before you decide to give in, remember that skimping on sleep can seriously harm your mental health. Sleep deprivation can cause all kinds of problems – from trouble staying focused to increased irritability—and if you struggle with mental illness, not getting enough sleep can make things even worse. The next time you can’t sleep, put on some soothing music or try a guided meditation to help you relax your mind.
#11 Never Taking Mental Health Days
Some people feel like they don’t deserve a day off but everyone needs to take mental health days every now and then. Especially if you’re experiencing intense stress, taking a whole day off from work or other duties can do wonders. Relaxation is not reserved for people who have ‘earned’ it. It’s something you need to do to stay healthy. These habits might seem insignificant, yet breaking them can be a real challenge—but eliminating these common mistakes will have a profound effect your mental health.
Now that you know what they are, you can be mindful throughout your day to avoid sabotaging your mental wellbeing. When you commit to a routine that avoids interruptions, distractions, and overstimulation, you’ll notice that you feel calmer, more balanced, and healthier.