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17 Destructive Habits Harming Our Mental Health

The importance of mental health stands on par with our physical well-being, yet we might be damaging it unknowingly with our daily habits. We often fall into bad habits that put our mental health at risk. Sometimes, these habits can be so sneaky that we don’t realize it’s a problem until it’s time for an intervention or major behavioral changes.

In an online community, a member asked a question that struck a chord with many: “What factors put mental health at risk?” This query sparked a meaningful conversation, as users candidly shared their detrimental habits and the resulting consequences.

Are you guilty of any of these habits that are sabotaging your mental health? Recognizing them is the first step in making a change.

1. Goal Obsession 

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When you link your self-worth to a single goal, you become highly vulnerable to the emotional turmoil of failures. Since nothing in life is straightforward and goals are not usually linear, your mental health will be on a daily roller coaster.

A user confirms this by saying, “Planting your entire sense of self-worth and self-esteem on one particular goal, target, activity or skill; and watching your whole life fall apart when that doesn’t work out.”

2. Past Trauma  

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The trauma of the past, particularly in childhood, has a way of manifesting in our daily behaviors and patterns. Childhood trauma can lead to poor coping skills as an adult.

Someone said, “Having your emotional development neglected in childhood. Particularly within the first seven years of life. Also, being raised in a high cortisol home by emotionally reactive/explosive parent(s).” These underlying issues are some of the hardest to manage since they stem from a past that was out of our control. Finding a way to process the past can be extremely beneficial.

3. Social Media

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Social media is toxic and lonely for so many reasons. It affects our real connections with people in the real world. And can give a false sense of how others are experiencing the world,

Someone writes, “My mental health improved immensely when I deleted my social media accounts . Being in a dark depression and seeing friends veneer of happy times without me just kept reinforcing the “they are happier without me” thoughts. Till one day, I realized people only post the excellent/semi-fake, and it’s almost always not real life.”

4. Dating Apps

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Dating apps can seriously damage your confidence. A 2020 study even found that users of swipe-based dating apps are more likely to experience depression and anxiety.

A user said, “Getting rejected and ghosted over and over again can pull you down pretty badly. I’m even somewhat successful on them. They still took their toll on me.”

5. Lack of Exposure to Nature

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Regular exposure to nature is important for mental health. Fresh air and sunshine (to get much-needed Vitamin D) are essential to the human experience, yet they are often neglected due to busy schedules.

Someone said, “Fresh air, plants, birdsong, and sunlight are more important than you think, not to mention the lack of man-made noises. Exposure to nature lowers stress hormones and reduces rumination. If you live in an urbanized area and can’t spend a few hours in the park every week, add a few houseplants to your home and keep the blinds open when the sun is up.”

6. Getting Stuck on Past Mistakes

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Dwelling in regrets is destructive. No matter how much we try to play out different scenarios, we can’t change the past. Thus, it’s best to find ways to move on with the help of acceptance, journaling, forgiveness, and therapy.

Someone writes, “As they say nothing is more expensive than a life filled with regrets. At some point, we have to forgive ourselves and move towards the light. The rest of our lives can be the best of our lives.”

7. Staying in Toxic Relationships

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When in a toxic relationship, it can be hard to recognize the signs. Feelings of confusion (due to gaslighting), emotional highs and lows, any form of abuse (physical or mental), and guilt are red flags that it’s time to get out of a relationship immediately- particularly for the sake of your mental health

Someone writes, “Toxic relationships need to end, and all the power and love to those who come out of it, whatever form it may take. You will heal with some good, work on yourself, and understand the dynamics. It helps to understand why and how they did it and try not to get smothered by finding out. But at the end of the day, they are a toxic person you should leave, make peace with what happened to you, and heal for yourself, even forgive yourself.”

8. Being a People Pleaser

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Worrying more about what other people think about you than your own mental health is a recipe for disaster. Recognizing what you need and being able to say no is an important part of protecting your own mental state.

Someone said, “People pleasers struggle to set healthy boundaries. This means you might let others walk all over you, making yourself feel undervalued and unappreciated.”

Another said, “I’ve never met someone with this tendency that had stable mental health to begin with, to be honest. But yeah, becoming aware and watching people take advantage of you makes the hole deeper.”

9. Having a Toxic Job

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Similar to toxic relationships, a toxic workplace is also detrimental. Gaslighting bosses, gossiping co-workers, and negative energy aren’t worth it. After all, most of us spend most of our daylight hours there (work). Getting out and finding a more positive and supportive environment is crucial.

A user writes, “I’ve had a few bad jobs, and they destroy you mentally. I’d spend all my time off dreading going back.”

10. Emotional Abuse 

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Emotional abuse is a silent epidemic; most victims don’t even know they’re victims. Being constantly torn down by the people we love will take its toll on a person’s self-worth and confidence, making it hard for them to stand up for themselves and walk away.

Someone said, “I’ve been physically and emotionally abused in the past. And yes, emotional abuse is a lot worse for some people. It just sticks with you. At least the pain from the physical goes.”

11. Constant Comparison

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Comparison is the thief of joy. Yet, social media makes it hard for people to feel frustrated or sad over how their lives compare to others. It’s important to remember that we are all in different stages of life and that life isn’t a competition.

Someone said, “Constantly comparing yourself to others can damage your mental health. If you believe that everyone else is doing better, looking better, or living better, it’s easy to feel inadequate.”

12. Poor Eating Habits

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A healthy diet is the key to maintaining overall well-being, including brain health. A crappy diet leads to low energy, making it hard to concentrate or prioritize other aspects of live that would help you thrive.

Someone said, “There are several studies that show that mental health issues are often caused by diet. This makes sense- your brain is an organ, and it needs the correct vitamins, glucose levels, hormones, macros, etc to operate properly.”

13. Maladaptive Daydreaming 

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Maladaptive daydreaming goes beyond the typical trance we all experience. It involves vivid dreams that become uncontrollable. It’s like an escape from reality and is super dangerous to mental health. 

Someone said, “It becomes harmful when you start comparing your fantasy world to your actual life and trying to expect your real life to be exactly like your fantasy world.”

14. Lack of Finances

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Not having enough money to cover the basic life essentials will quickly stress anyone out. With many people barely scraping by, these feelings can become a daily occurrence that becomes exhausting and degrades our mental health.

A user said, “Whenever I start feeling financial things build up my mental health tanks, fast.”

Another said, “I am drowning right now in credit debt (just trying to survive and pay bills), and it literally wakes me up at night.”

15. Not Exercising

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Daily exercise is good for the body, mind, and soul. It keeps blood flowing efficiently to our brains and hormones balanced- all key elements in keeping the brain operating clearly without the constant haze of depression or anxiety. Exercise is an excellent natural remedy for tackling life’s ups and downs.

Someone said, “I like to think of exercise like one of those daily quests you have in MMOs, but it’s pretty open-ended to the point where you can find a quest that’s fun that generally fulfills the same purpose.”

16. Staying Indoors for Too Long

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Staying coupled up at home is not what the human body and mind were made for. Getting outside, sharing time with others, and exploring the world are all important to the human experience.

A user writes, “Staying inside for too long is terrible. Even just getting out long enough to go for a short walk or drive to the store is so much better than being cooped up inside all day. The moment you stop having things to occupy your attention, it feels like a cage if you haven’t been outside in a while.”

17. Poor Quality of Sleep

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Poor sleep habits and sleep deprivation will do your mental health no favors. It affects our ability to concentrate, think rationally, and do basic daily tasks.

A therapist in the forum said, “Poor sleep quality is highly predictive of (and associated with) poor mental health. It’s incredible what simply adopting good sleep hygiene can do for a person. (Not getting enough sleep is equally harmful.)”

Source

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