Stop sabotaging your mental health
We live in a fast-paced, hectic world where we have instant access to information and news from all over the globe – and not all of it pleasant. There are many things beyond our control that can trigger or exacerbate anxiety and other mental health issues. But there are also ways we self-sabotage our mental health by making poor decisions about our physical health, and by staying in situations that cause us stress, or not knowing how to make those situations better.
Sometimes the solution is simple, sometimes it’s complex and difficult, but in every case knowing how much those bad habits may be impacting your mental health is an important first step in finding a way to make changes for the better.
Not getting enough sleep
Among all the other important health benefits you reap from getting a proper night’s sleep, it can also help regulate your emotions. Those who are chronically sleep deprived are more apt to struggle with anxiety disorders and depression, likely because of the important emotional processing that occurs during the REM stage of sleep.1 For tips on how to get that much-needed rest every night, check out our articles on how to sleep like a baby when you’re all grown up and how to sleep better naturally without resorting to sleeping pills.
Sitting all day
Being active is a good way to help your brain better cope with stress and reduce symptoms of anxiety – even just a 10-minute walk can help elevate your mood2 – so get moving!
It’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of activity, particularly when you live in a busy household, but always remember to set aside a few minutes every day to do something you love that restores your mind and body. Self-care is very important because it helps restore the mental and physical energy we need to continue caring for others. Commit to finding at least 15 – 30 minutes a day of uninterrupted time that’s just for you. Also, find out how you can make self-care part of your daily routine.
Avoiding the doctor
No one really looks forward to the annual poke and prod, but think of your doctor as a partner in your health care and keep those annual appointments. Don’t hesitate to check in if something doesn’t seem right during the year either. Knowing that you are as physically healthy as possible – or taking control of the situation if you’re not – is one less thing to worry about. For tips on how to organize your medical information and make the most of your visits to the doctor, read our article Keeping Track of your Health.
Refusing to seek mental help
There is no shame in seeking out help from a professional who is trained to guide people who are dealing with chronic stress and anxiety. A therapist can give you the tools you need to cope with what’s going on around you, and help you to find healthy ways to manage your stress before it gets out of hand. If you don’t feel ashamed when you go to the doctor when you have the flu, you shouldn’t feel ashamed to ask your doctor about your mental health either.
Staying in a stressful job
It’s impossible to avoid all stress in the workplace, but there is a reasonable expectation that it shouldn’t be so bad that it literally makes you sick. In fact, burnout and stress are the most common reasons for taking time off work, 3 and more and more people are taking “mental health days” to try to deal with the overwhelming stress of their jobs.4 If you can’t avoid it, the secret is to figure out how to recognize workplace burnout and stress, and take action as soon as you can. Read our article on workplace stress for tips and advice on how to improve your situation.
Not giving your busy mind some peace
According to Emma Seppala, Ph.D., there are 10 scientifically
proven benefits to meditation, a practice designed to quiet your busy mind.5 If decreasing anxiety, stress, depression and inflammation; and increasing memory, attention and life satisfaction sounds good to you, check out this 10-step beginner’s guide to meditation from Stop and Breathe. For more information on what meditation is and what it can do for you, check out our Ohmmmm My Goodness article.
Letting relationships suffer
According to The University of Minnesota, the heart and blood pressure of people with healthy relationships respond better to stress, their endocrine and cardiovascular systems are healthier, and their immune systems are better able to fight off infectious diseases.6 If you are in a mentally or physically abusive relationship, it is imperative to look for help – and it’s out there. If it’s safe for you to do so, visit HelpGuide for more information as well as links and phone numbers for where you can turn for help. If you simply want to make the healthy relationships you, learn how you can nurture your relationships.
Most importantly, listen to your inner voice. You know when something just isn’t right, and ignoring your gut feeling and pretending you’re okay when you know you’ve reached a point where your stress levels and anxiety are impacting your work, relationships, and your everyday life, is only harming you more. Be proactive about your mental health and do what you can to make sure that bright, beautiful mind is receiving the kind of care and attention it – and you – deserve.
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