Do you spend hours on Facebook and Instagram every day? Do you find yourself eating that burger from McDonalds again, even though you know you shouldn’t do it? Some habits are bad for our day-to-day lives and they can be especially awful and toxic for anxiety, depression, and stress.
Over the years, I have realized that there have been several things I have done, which are no good for my mental health. I will list these toxic and awful habits below.
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Toxic habit 1: Allowing stress to build up!
Do you find yourself feeling stressed out over an upcoming college exam or maybe a presentation you have to do at work? That’s ok. Feeling stressed once in a while is something that happens to everyone. Believe it or not.
But if you feel that you can’t quite shake that feeling after your exam or presentation, you will need to address what is causing the stress. Starting a stress journal/diary has been a huge help for me to figure out what can trigger my stress.
Identifying your stress factors means that you are starting to work on your toxic habit and making it a better habit in your everyday life.
Identifying the sources of stress in specific situations and keeping a stress journal, will help you see patterns in your life. You can start with the following:
- What caused your stress?
- How did you feel in the situation – both physically and emotionally?
- How did you act in response?
- What did you do to make yourself feel better?
A stress diary will help you figure out how you react to stress, and it can help you identify your trigger points. For the first few days, there is not a lot you can do, but once you have had the stress diary for a couple of weeks, you can start analyzing it and take action towards your future and how you want to handle your stress factors.
Toxic habit 2: Sleeping too often and too long
Can you sleep too long? Yes, you can sleep too often and too long and it can end up messing badly with your emotions and your sleep schedule. It is true that sleeping 7 to 8 hours every night is essential for a healthy mind and body (even for adults).
It is also true that every person is different with different needs for sleep. I need 8 hours of sleep (at least) in order to function properly during the day.
However, if you sleep longer than necessary, there can be both physical and mental consequences. This can be absolutely toxic to your mental health. People with insomnia and hypersomnia have a bigger risk for heart diseases, metabolic problems, and difficulty with their memories.
Hypersomnia vs Insomnia
Hypersomnia is when you sleep too much over a longer period of time and Insomnia is when you are not sleeping enough. Hypersomnia and Insomnia share some of the same symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty waking up in the morning (including sleeping through your alarm)
- Trouble rising from bed and starting the day
- Grogginess on and off or consistently throughout the day
- Trouble concentrating at school or at work
Whether or not you are sleeping too often or too long is depending on different factors, including your individual genetics, your age, your activity level, your overall health, and your life circumstances.
Sleep and depression are closely linked together. If you have experienced depression, you may have disturbances during the night and are either sleeping too little or too much. Women, in particular, are more likely to oversleep and still feel excessively tired during the day if they are depressed.
Toxic habit 3: Not eating a healthy diet
Yup, there we have it. Maybe you are sneaking into McDonald’s for that burger after school or you are having an extra thick Caffe latte after work. I used to do this too, but now I know that eating unhealthy foods never did anything good for me. Junk food and unhealthy eating are extremely toxic and dangerous to your mental health. Granted, I still eat a burger once in a while.
Trust me, I get that you really don’t want to be thinking. I know from experience than we you are stressed out and majorly depressed, you avoid cooking anything. You have no energy and you don’t want to spend even an hour in front of the stove with that energy. I get it!
However, a healthy and well-balanced diet is essential if you want to get better mentally and have more energy during the day. Studies also suggest that a healthy diet improves your thought pattern into more positive thoughts, which in turn will help the way you feel about yourself and your life.
The following are amazing foods to implement into your daily healthy diet:
- Eating regularly throughout the day – this means 3 main meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner!)
- Choosing less refined high sugar foods and drinks and more whole grain foods
- Including protein at each meal
- Eating a variety of foods
- Including oily fish (omega 3 fatty acids) in your diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Drinking plenty of water every day
- If you choose to drink alcohol, keep it within recommended limits
You can learn more about the connection between a healthy diet and your mental health if you click here.
Toxic habit 4: Not treating yourself with kindness
This is a toxic habit like any other bad habit. For some reason, many people struggle to be kind to themselves. People with depression are often perfectionists. I am one of them. Too me, this means that I can be extremely self-critical, and I have developed a fear of failure in the past.
I would never expect perfectionism from anyone else, and I realized in the end that if I would not expect it from anyone else, why would I expect it from myself? Being a perfectionist is something that can eventually lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
It is easier said than done but grant yourself permission to be kind to yourself and tell yourself daily, that “I accept myself as I am” or “I forgive myself”. Ask yourself, that if you are able to be kind and accepting of others, why do you find it so difficult to extend the same love to yourself?
Do not let others define you! Accept yourself for who you are; not who others would like you to be. Everyone in this world has something to offer and everyone is entitled to respect.
Self-acceptance can lead to reduced stress. There are several studies that suggest that when we accept and appreciate who we are, our happiness levels increase. Self-acceptance leads to reduced stress, a more optimistic outlook on life as a whole and makes you more grounded and at peace.
Toxic habit 5: Avoiding seeing other people
When I was at my lowest and extremely depressed a few years ago, I avoided seeing anyone at all. I could go for days, even weeks, without seeing my friends and family and life would just go by.
It was very difficult for me to open up to anyone about my state of mind because I didn’t know if anyone would believe me or accept it.
When I started to let my friends in on what was happening to me, I quickly realized that they were there for me and they never judged me.
I realize that sometimes it can be difficult for people to understand what you are going through unless they have been through the same thing themselves.
Explain to them exactly how you are feeling and what is going on in your head and give them time to reflect upon this information. They will come around.
Toxic habit 6: Avoiding exercise
You don’t have to start training for a marathon, don’t worry! But lying in bed all day, when you are seriously depressed is not going to help you and can be toxic to your mental health. Going outside for a short walk and some fresh air will make you feel much better.
Exercising releases some of those famous feel-good hormones and it is quite the adrenaline rush. Even just going for a walk will do that to you, if you are not used to exercising.
Toxic habit 7: Watching the news
I used to have the news in the background when I was in the kitchen cooking. Just to hear what is going on in my country and the rest of the world.
However, most news is negative and toxic, and if you are experiencing depression it can make your depression worse hearing about someone who was killed or raped in the streets.
Being informed is a good thing, yes, but watching negativity on the news every day is not making you feel better about life in general.
Toxic habit 8: Comparing yourself to others
Comparing yourself to others is the worst you can do to yourself. It’s awful and absolutely toxic to your mental health Let’s say that you have been eating well and working out for the past few months and you are feeling pretty good about yourself these days.
Then one morning you are scrolling through Instagram and Facebook and you see fit people, extremely attractive celebs, etc. You automatically start comparing yourself to these people and the confidence you have to build up over the last few months is gone. Just like that.
However, it can be incredibly hard to actually stop comparing yourself because of social media, as they show the highlights of people’s lives. But, you do need to stop comparing yourself to other people. It is a truly toxic habit to your mental health
No two people are the same. We all have our own story and truth be told Social Media is picturing a pretty unrealistic image of people.
Most people only post a selfie they have perfected with 20 different photos, they only post work subjects, when something is going well for them, etc. Life isn’t perfect.
Until you realize that comparing yourself to others will destroy your self-esteem and confidence, you are more likely to give up on your dreams and goals because you fear that you will never be good enough.
Does it make sense?
What bad habits have you had in your life? Let me know below…