All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion and desire.”Aristotle
Humans are creatures of habit. And sometimes it is easier to continue to do the same things day after day, even if they are nonproductive, then to take the time to change. But if you have habits that are keeping you stuck, then ceasing those behaviors can create a significant alteration in your life. And that change will lead to a happier, healthier new you. Although these habits might seem like a good idea, in the end, they might be hurting you. And if you are engaging in them, they are working against you, and it is time to rip off the band-aid and try something new.
“I learned to be with myself rather than avoiding myself with limiting habits; I started to be aware of my feelings more, rather than numb them.”
1. Self Medicating
Although numbing yourself from daily stresses might seem like a great way to take a break, if you are self-medicating by using recreational drugs or alcohol, it is probably a vicious cycle. And it might also have you missing out on the best parts of life. Using drugs and alcohol as a solution to stress can lead to depression and anxiety. And the more depressed and anxious you are, the more it will take to pick yourself out of it.
Alcohol and drugs are a depressant. And although when you first start taking them, they produce a euphoric feeling, the aftermath is anything but happiness. Over time, drugs and alcohol work to alter your brain chemistry. When your neuropathways change, drugs and alcohol no longer make you feel “high;” they make you feel very low, and depressed. Alcohol and other vices shouldn’t be a crutch.
And if they are to you, then you are only hurting yourself. Substance abuse can lead to anxiety and depression, and it can also distract you from the important things in life. It is okay to allow yourself to cut loose once in a while. But if you are taking drugs or alcohol to get through the day, that is a habit that is clearly hurting your mental health. And also one that needs to be addressed to find a more stable mental outlook.
2. Eating Poorly
Poor nutrition can lead to anxiety and depression. If you aren’t getting the proper vitamins and minerals, your body can’t perform optimally. You need the neurotransmitter serotonin to help in the regulation of your sleep cycle, appetite, and it can also help to decrease daily aches and pains. If you aren’t getting the proper nutrition you require, then your brain can’t produce enough serotonin.
So not eating well can have a significant impact on your mood and emotions. Also, your gut microbiome is influenced by what you eat and how much you can absorb into your body. If you have too much “bad” bacteria in your gut biome and not enough “good,” then it can limit your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. A healthy diet that is filled with enough protein and good things will not only reduce the risk of chronic illness; it will have you feeling better emotionally and mentally!
3. A Sedentary Lifestyle
Science has discovered that a sedentary lifestyle is just as harmful to your health as smoking. So not only can sitting all day lead to a higher risk for chronic disease and illness; it can also affect your mood. Raising your heart rate for just ten minutes a day will not only make you feel elated; it will help to reduce any feelings of depression or anxiety. So instead of sitting down when you are feeling a little “blue,” put your shoes on and go for a ten-minute walk.
When you exercise, your body releases natural endorphins that make you feel happy, positive, and they help to increase your self-esteem. Exercise also helps to increase your body’s production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that works to increase your overall mood. So instead of making a daily habit of a sitting, get outside and do something active. Exercise is one of the best ways to buffer your body against both physical and mental stress that might be hurting your mental well being.
4. Overdoing Social Media
If you are attached to your cell phone and constantly both checking and updating your status on social media, you might be doing your mental health a whole lot of harm. Social media can hurt your mental health in six different ways. It has been shown to lower your self-esteem, break down your human connection, shade your memory of past events, reduce your levels of sleep and your attention span, and cause unhappiness.
Also, the blue light from mobile devices can suppress melatonin in the body, which is the hormone that is responsible for making you feel tired. So using your cellphone before bed can interrupt your ability to get the sleep required for emotional stability. And according to a survey of 1000 individuals who decided to quit social media, 41% of them said they were doing so because social media platforms made them feel anxious and sad. So although social media is supposed to make you feel more “connected,” it might be doing just the opposite.
Instead of posting and checking your “friends'” status, pick up a telephone, and head to dinner. Human connection is an essential component of your mental health. And you can’t substitute a constant scroll of people on Instagram for the relationship support that is necessary for a healthy mind.
The law of attraction states that negative attracts negative, and positive attracts positive. If you frequently engage in negative self-talk or see the glass as half empty, then that will be your experience and perspective of the world around you. Complaining is one of the worst daily habits that you can have. When you start to feel down on life, try to imagine all the positives that you have and how beautiful life can be.
It is essential to have that “happy place” to think of when things get rough. And when possible, look on the bright side. If all you do is focus on unpleasant things, then it is difficult to feel happiness. Think positively and positive will not only come to you; it will guide your life to a much happier course!
6. Bottling Up Anger
If you are someone who doesn’t like confrontation, you might be carrying a whole lot of anger and resentment. Almost like a full backpack, carrying all of your past wrongs around can begin to weigh you down mentally. If you don’t learn to forgive and let go, all of those things that make you feel upset, it can lead to anxiety and depression.
It is much better to talk things over then to hold onto them. And even if you don’t get the closure you expect, you have to learn to forgive and let go for your own well being. Staying mad or holding a grudge does nothing to the person that you are angry at. But it does do a significant amount of damage to your own well being and mental outlook.
Studies show that being pessimistic can increase your risk of anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. So it doesn’t make much sense to hold onto the wrongs of the past, they only keep you there and stop you from finding the peace that is a much better way to live.
7. Obsessive Thinking
Obsessive thinking or worry consists of thinking and rethinking thoughts over and over again. When you ruminate obsessively about things in your life; it forces your body to use adrenaline. Adrenaline is the hormone responsible for the “fight or flight” response that is good for our evolutionary survival. But chronic adrenaline it isn’t good for you emotionally or physically.
Stress hormones are not only bad for the body because they cause inflammation; they are bad for your brain. Stress hormones like cortisol also increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and stroke. So instead of obsessively going over every decision and move in your life, make a choice and move on. If you continually second guess yourself; it won’t change the outcome of the situation. It will only keep you in a bad mental state.
A great trick to help you get past obsessive thinking is to tie a rubber band around your wrist. Every time that you find yourself going over something snap yourself on the wrist to remind you to let it go and move forward. It won’t take long before you self-correct and begin to feel confident in your decisions and stop second-guessing yourself.
Habits are Hard to Break…but not Impossible!
Although habits are sometimes super challenging to break, if yours are causing poor mental health, it is time to change! Human connection, positivity, forgiveness, proper nutrition, and exercise are all positive changes that you can make daily to improve your mental status.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to overhaul your outlook on life. Making small, incremental changes every day is the best way to improve both your physical and mental health! When you set your mind to change, you will be surprised at how quickly your life can transform.