When it comes to mental health, there are a number of actions we take to alleviate symptoms. However, have you ever thought about what you can stop doing for this sake?
Our habits truly define who we are. And for this reason, we must take a look into these habits and consider that they may be inflicting mental illness upon us.
In the case of anxiety, there are a number of different habits people do that are extremely unhealthy for the condition.
Throughout this article, we’re going to look into 5 of these habits and figure out why they’re so deadly. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.
1.) Drugs and Alcohol
Though it’s not the case with anyone, many people turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of self-medicating. ¹ In the hopes that these substances will alleviate their pains.
The problem is, drugs and alcohol do work, but only for a short period of time. Though we feel blissful while we’re intoxicated, the moment that high crashes, we feel worse than when we started.
And with enough time, this cycle of taking a substance and crashing from it can have devastating effects.
If you are currently using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, we highly suggest you stop. This also includes medications often prescribed for anxiety, such as Xanax.
2.) Social Media
It should come as no surprise that social media has a negative impact on our mental health. Numerous studies have surfaced the web showing that people who use more of sites like Facebook and Instagram often find themselves more depressed and anxious. ²
This modern phenomenon happens for a number of reasons. One of the biggest is the fact that when we see other people’s lives through images and posts, we get the sense that ours isn’t as gratifying.
We often forget that what we’re witnessing is merely selected segments of those people’s lives. And, instead, consider it to be the entire picture.
To take things further, there’s also the reverse of the situation. When we upload to social media, we expect to receive notifications in the form of likes and comments. It’s been scientifically proven that these notifications release dopamine in our brains – the same chemical release when people take heroin. ³
Unfortunately, if our notifications don’t meet our expectations, we begin to think the worse.
The best action we can take in avoiding the confusion brought on by social media is dropping it all together or, at least, taking a much-needed break every so often.
3.) Junk Food
Have you ever heard of the gut-brain connection? In a recent discovery made by scientists, it was found that our our guts have a high influence over our emotions. ⁴
Have you ever felt “butterflies” in your stomach? Or do you ever get that “gut-feeling” something bad is about to happen?
These sensations are directly linked to the gut-brain connection. And what researchers have discovered is – generally speaking – those who have a healthier diet often have healthier emotions.
It’s believe this is due to the fact that a healthier diet will influence healthier emotions.
So, if you’re fond of junk food like many of us are, you may want to think twice the next time you stop into a 7-Eleven and purchase a bag of Doritos. Though small in retrospect, those little diet decisions we make have a huge impact on our overall mental health.
4.) Staying Up Late
Your sleep schedule has a huge impact on your mental health and overall well-being. Many of us struggle with the right sleep schedule for a number of reasons.
Whether we’re staying up binging Netflix or trying to cram in the last work of the day, those late night hours will inevitably take a toll on our brains.
Part of the reason for this is we may not be getting enough sleep at night. For example, if we get to bed at 2:00 AM and have to get up for work around 6:00 AM, we’re only offering ourselves 4 hours of rest.
However, let’s say we can get our full 8 hours and don’t have to wake up till 10:00 AM or 11:00 AM. The biggest issue with this is it restricts the amount of sunshine we get which also has an influence on our brains.
The trick to overcoming this bad habit is to set a bedtime and attempt to remain true to it for as long as possible. Between the hours of 10:00 PM and 12:00 AM are ideal.
Of course, many of us have difficulty simply falling to sleep. Luckily, there are a number of natural supplements on the market that can help with this, such as melatonin or cannabidiol (CBD).
5.) Judging Yourself and Others
Out of all the habits on our list, this is going to be the most difficult to simply give up. Our brains are practically wired to make judgement – both on ourselves and others. And to rewire this prominent connection is truly a task for the courageous.
Judgement has a negativity attached to it that may just outweigh the other 4 bad habits on our list. It convinces us that either:
- That we are not good enough.
- Other people are better than us.
Both of these assumptions practically have no other end goal other than anxiety.
But how can we simply stop our judgements?
The answer to this question will differ for everyone. Yet, we ultimately want to start participating in meditative habits.
Whether this be yoga, reading a book, writing, or meditation itself, it’s vital we find what brings us a closer connection with our souls and the world around us.
This connection in and of itself can have a alleviating effect that not only prevents judgement but far outweighs much of the medical treatment currently offered for anxiety.
Still have questions concerning habits that inflict anxiety?
We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have any further personal or professional information to share, we’d also love to hear from you.
¹ Health Services Research: Self-Medication of Mental Health Problems: New Evidence from a National Study
² Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking: Online Social Networking and Mental Health
³ Science in the News: Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A battle for your time
⁴ Harvard Medical School: The gut-brain connection