Our daily habits shape our lives in ways we don’t always expect. While some habits contribute to our happiness and resilience, others can have a negative impact on our mental health, often without us even realizing it. In this blog post, we’ll explore some common bad habits that can affect mental health and discuss strategies for making small changes that can lead to big changes.

Excessive Screen Time

This is where most of us struggle. Whether it’s doom scrolling on social media, or binge-watching your favorite tv show (or just the one that’s on), it’s easy to let the hours go by and suddenly it’s late at night and Netflix is asking “Are you still there?” Am I? Maybe. When we cozy up with our phones or other screens the hours just slip away. Technology promises entertainment and the illusion of connection, but mostly when we take a hard look at it, screen time has been linked to increased feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Using technology to our advantage helps push us in the right direction. Have your screen go greyscale at a certain time. Trust me. Your brain will be less willing to look at that screen. Have your internet to your tv shut off at a certain time every night. Yes, there are always ways to bypass this, but these gentle nudges help make it a bit easier to make better choices.

Poor Sleep Habits

How are you adjusting to time change? Badly? Me too. It’s pretty common. Sleep is essential for our health but often it’s the first thing to go. Project that’s overdue? I’ll just stay up. Friends going out for drinks or dinner? Sleep goes out the window. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to mental health problems marked by mood swings, irritability, and brain fog. The effect on the physical body can be much worse. Taking one step at a time toward establishing a healthy and stable sleep schedule can do wonders for your health. In practical terms that can be a reminder on your calendar that tells you it’s time to get ready for bed. It can be a good book, a soothing bath or something that you are looking forward to each night. Does night cheese count? Mmm. Questionable. We’ll take a look at how eating effects your mental health next.

Unhealthy Eating Patterns

Did you ever hear the phrase “You are what you eat?” It’s so true! The foods we eat can have a significant effect on our mood and energy levels. When we eat a diet high in processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats, it can contribute to feelings of sluggishness, irritability, and low self-esteem. Not to mention it’s easy to over-consume stuff that our brain just loves. On the other hand, bumping up the fruit, veg, whole grains and good fats can help support mental health and keep blood sugar levels steady rather than the rollercoaster of highs and crashes. Small, every-day changes on diet choices that are sustainable are the key. We won’t easily go from junk food to a salad fest, but adding in a broiled or steamed veggie at dinner can be a small step in the right direction. I don’t know about you, but when the weather starts to warm up, the produce section starts to look so much more enticing to me. If your brain works this way too, use the momentum to boost your healthy food intake.

Negative Self-Talk

Somewhere along the way, the inner critic in our brains gets messages that can either lift us up or tear us down. My inner critic can be a real witch, sometimes. Positive self-talk is one small way to counteract the inner critic. This is also where therapy can be very helpful. Some of us never learned to speak kindly to ourselves because we were rarely spoken kindly to. It grows into a self defense tactic to keep us safe, but sometimes the volume on our inner voice can be too loud and too negative, leading to feelings of worthlessness and despair. Practicing self-compassion, challenging negative thought patterns, and cultivating a positive inner voice can help grow a more supportive and nurturing relationship with yourself. Affirmations are a great place to start. If affirmations don’t feel real, then begin with If-firmations. Like “What IF I’m a good person?” “What IF I took care of my mental health today?” It can be a hopeful start to changing that voice inside you. 

Avoidance Coping

When faced with stress, discomfort, or difficult emotions, it’s tempting to check out with unhealthy coping mechanisms, like procrastination, substance abuse, and withdrawal from friends and family. These might feel better in the moment, but they ultimately make mental health issues worse. Instead of avoiding discomfort, learning healthy coping strategies such as mindfulness, exercise, and seeking support from loved ones can help build your resilience to negative experiences. Easier said than done, right? Yes. That’s why therapy is a great choice to start down the path of being free from ways we unhealthily cope with life. Schedule an appointment today with any of our qualified therapists.

Breaking free from bad habits that affect mental health requires awareness, intention, and perseverance. If you feel like you can’t do it alone, we are always here to talk with you. One day at a time, we can start to identify these harmful patterns and take steps to change them. Healthier habits can lead to healthier mental well being, both physically and emotionally. Remember, it’s never too late to start making positive changes – every small step counts on the journey to better mental health.


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