Are you ok?
When was the last time you stopped and checked in on yourself to really identify if you’re ok? Life is busy. Hectic at times if you may. So, it’s easy to get lost in the chaos, keeping busy and not paying close attention to your mental state.
Mental health impacts both your psychological and social well-being. It is pivotal for how you navigate your behaviour and communicate to others as well as how you regulate your emotions and deal with stressful occurrences that life throws at you. At its core your mental health impacts the quality of your life.
Almost half of all Australian adults will face mental illness at some point, which is a devastating statistic as it not only negatively effects each individual but also the people around that individual and within their community.
While the cause of certain mental health conditions are out of our control (such as genetics, family history and life experiences) did you know our daily habits can have a significant impact on our overall happiness and emotional wellbeing?
Depression, stress and anxiety can be brought on by many factors and as a first port of call you should always consult with your doctor if you believe you need assistance or be placed on a mental health plan. Talking to someone about how you feel is the uttermost important thing you can do to nurture and help yourself.
But also, being aware of the daily habits and things you do that may be sabotaging your mental health or making your state of mind worse. Acknowledging how these habits truly make you feel is the first part. Changing these habits will take commitment and time. But I assure you, anything that brings you piece of mind is time well spent.
So, what daily habits could be affecting YOUR mental health?
Lack of Exercise
We all know that a lack of exercise can have a negative impact on both your physical and mental health. Moving your body naturally lifts your mood, helps relieve stress and better manage symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Regular exercise can seem near impossible for someone who is suffering from mental health problems as they (unwillingly) lack the energy or motivation.
It's crucial to speak with your GP about how this is impacting your state of wellness and find something you enjoy doing that isn’t too strenuous.
This might include:
- Yin Yoga
- Walking or slow jogging
- Stretching or mat Pilates
You don’t have to do vigorous exercise to support your mental health. Gentle movement is perfect. Whatever you find joy in doing is better than not moving your body in any way at all.
Also, whenever you can soak in some sunshine. The sun is an excellent source of vitamin D which naturally boosts your mood.
Negative People and Toxic Relationships
Who you surround yourself with has a major impact on the way they make you feel. It’s so important to protect your peace especially if you suffer from mental health issues. So, if that means setting boundaries or cutting people off that bring you bad energy or are a catalyst to your feelings of depression or anxiety, then so be it.
Negative people influence your self-esteem and outlook on life which can affect your mental health long-term.
It may be difficult to see you’re in a toxic relationship with someone but if they leave you with having strong feelings of worthlessness, they have manipulated you in believing that you are.
Do you suffer from co-dependency? Co-dependency can influence a person’s ability to acknowledge and maintain a healthy positive relationship. If you are co-dependant you may struggle with expressing emotions, setting boundaries, saying no and suffer from low self-esteem.
Can you identify a relationship that weighs heavy on your shoulders right now?
Talk to a close friend or trusted family member about how you’re feeling and the best way to navigate your way out of any connection that’s making you feel down.
Remember, if someone in your life doesn’t ease a sense of loneliness, offer emotional support or add positive value to your life then it's time to say goodbye!
Addiction to social media!
Studies show that we’re better off spending time out in nature than having our eyes glued to screens scrolling through social media platforms. We know it’s not great for us, but we’re still so addicted to it. (I know I’m guilty as charged.)
We’re constantly streaming other people’s lives and comparing their filtered versions to our own. Which for someone dealing with mental health issues increases feelings of depression and anxiety. Hours can be spent enthralled by what we can mindlessly browse at our fingertips.
Not to mention how the light emitted from these devices also alters our brain chemistry, disrupting your body’s circadian rhythm, which causes fatigue and poor sleep quality (I’ll get on to sleep in my next point).
Social media is an addictive tool for someone in a poor mental state and should be avoided or at least taken a technology detox to better their sense of overall mental wellness.
If you find it hard to break the habit of reaching for your phone, try using these ideas:
- Allow yourself a daily time limit for device use.
- Solve puzzles
- Go for a walk (especially if the suns out)
- Learn an instrument
- Delete social media apps
Sleep and Rest
Quality sleep and rest is essential for maintaining one’s mental health. Life can be exhausting so it’s crucial for us to be recharging our batteries overnight and aiming for at least 8 hours of sleep.
Getting enough quality sleep can be challenging for someone who’s not feeling their best mentally. It can be hard to switch off negative thoughts or have them disrupt your sleep in the middle of the night.
If your mental state is affecting your sleep or causing you insomnia speak with your doctor who can recommend treatment or a consultation with a sleep-specialist.
Studies have shown that people who average less than 6 hours of sleep per night were approximately 2.5 times more likely to suffer from mental health distress.
How do you feel when you wake up each morning? If you still feel exhausted or lack motivation for the day ahead, you may need to focus on new bedtime habits to help you wind down for the night.
This may include:
- Avoid consuming caffeinated beverages past midday.
- Make your bedroom as dark, quiet and relaxing as possible.
- Practice a self-care ritual every evening, this might be having an Epsom salt bath
- Read a book
- Try 10 minutes of light stretching or meditation
- Avoid drinking alcohol, switch to a chamomile tea instead
- Turn off your phone or set it too silent
- Set yourself the same sleep and awake time every day
- Keep the temperature in your room cool/comfortable.
How often to you wish for a ‘better life’, have feelings of guilt or feelings of dissatisfaction when things aren’t ‘perfect’?
Are you someone that rehashes bad events in your mind and can’t let go of any failures (big or small) that occur in your life?
Do you seek and highlight mistakes in everything you or the people around you do?
Do you perceive or speak to yourself in a negative way?
When you’re constantly plagued with feelings of perpetual inadequacy this plays havoc on your mental health and general well-being.
According to behavioural experts being in a constant negative mind frame will increase depressive symptoms. Talking to a professional such as a psychologist or councillor will help you pave a path in pouring energy into the positives in your life.
A positive mind set = positive outlook on life.
There are many factors that come into play when dealing with mental health issues. A lot are beyond our control but there are certainly habits you can incorporate in your days that will help lighten the load in promoting greater wellness.
Start off small when changing or adapting your habits, you don’t want to feel overwhelmed with trying to ‘do better’ all at once.
Remember there are tools and services available for you to use for your mental health. Talking about how you’re feeling is the most important and vital thing you can do for yourself, because you deserve to enjoy your life the best you can.
*If you are someone you love needs help these are some options for you: