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  • Writer's pictureMisti Luke, LCSW

9 Habits Harmful To Your Mental Health

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

Humans are habitual creatures. Amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life, repeating presumably innocent habits might seem relatively harmless on the surface, but taking a closer look, some of those habits can have a negative impact on mental health. Keep reading to learn about nine bad habits that can have damaging effects your mental health.

1. You don’t sleep enough- Not only is sleep deprivation damaging to physical health, not getting enough z’s can impact your mental clarity and decision making. Try to determine why you are not sleeping and be proactive about removing roadblocks for a restful night’s sleep.

2. You say “YES” too often- Being a people pleaser creates avoidable stress and can be detrimental to mental health. Learn how to set boundaries and say no by reading my blog post, “No, is Not a Two Letter Dirty Word.”

3. You stay in toxic relationships- Let’s face it, some relationships just aren’t healthy. Remaining in chaotic relationships, romantic or otherwise, erode self-esteem and self-confidence. Not to mention create anxiety and depressive symptoms in otherwise mentally healthy individuals.

4. You are too involved in other peoples’ problems- Becoming overly entangled in the choices, events and drama of others sets the stage for codependent personality traits. Remember, it is possible to lend helping hand, or ear, without becoming completely engulfed in other peoples’ problems.

5. You don’t exercise- A study found in the American Journal of Internal Medicine shows an association between sitting time and mental health. Particularly, the longer a person sits, the more likely he or she is to have symptoms of depression. Exercise is one of the most effective and economical ways to decrease stress and improve your over-all mental health.

6. You procrastinate- Find yourself making excuses to get out of tasks? Do you regularly put things off? Everyone is guilty of procrastinating from time to time, but when putting things off hinders your life, it’s time to make a change. Regular procrastination can lead to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, guilt and anxiety. Overcome your urge to procrastinate by learning effective time management skills here.

7. You wear a super hero cape- Spending most all your time meeting the needs and wants of others is, as you know, emotionally draining. Even super hero’s need a break. Over time, playing the role of super, mom-dad-employee-adult child can have a negative impact on your mental health. Demonstrating self-compassion, by taking off your cape, is vital to maintain emotional balance.

8. You don’t laugh often- Research suggests laughter leads to reductions in stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. Heightened levels of these hormones contribute to- you guessed it, increased anxiety. For your mental health’s sake, take steps to lighten up. Look for humor in situations you normally might take seriously such as; slow drivers in the passing lane, poor test performance, empty milk jugs left in the frig, or the fact that your new marketing supervisor's knowledge of marketing equals that of your six-year old nephew.

9. You stay glued to your phone- Smart phones and social media provide convenience, connection and information. However, being attached to your device to the point of obsession is unhealthy. One example, posts on social media often depict an idealized version of events, people and places. Spending hours on end viewing carefully crafted social media profiles can negatively affect your mood, especially if you tend to compare your yourself and your life to others. Second, constant connection via smart phones, tablets and other devices diminishes real person interaction, which contributes to isolation and loneliness. Train yourself to put down your smart phone regularly to promote a healthier mental well-being.

Misti Luke is a licensed mental health therapist currently in private practice in beautiful Broken Bow, Oklahoma. email


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