Four Habits You Must Break To Improve Your Mental Health

Matt Lillywhite

Photo by Christopher Ott on Unsplash

Anxiety is something I used to struggle with for many years. It frequently kept me awake at night and prevented me from living a happy life.

Deep down, I knew that I had to find a way to change my life for the better. The only problem? I didn’t know where to start. But while reading a book in the Calgary public library, I came across a quote from Marcus Aurelius that completely changed my way of thinking. It goes like this:

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”

At that moment, I recognized that the best way to improve my mental health was by changing my daily habits. And sure enough, the strategy worked. Once I stopped doing things that sabotaged my mental health, I quickly found myself feeling a lot happier than ever before.

So below are a collection of common that you need to break to improve your mental health. Each of these insights changed my life for the better. I’m sure they will do the same for you, too.

1. Eating Too Much Junk Food.

I love cheeseburgers and fries as much as anyone else. And like many people, I enjoy having a movie night with friends, while eating loads of pizza. But here’s the thing: If you eat too much junk food, it can seriously damage your mental health.

Quoting an article published by Harvard Medical School:

“Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.”

I’m not going to say that you need to go vegan, switch to a diet of salad and vegetables, or do anything else that some people may recommend to improve the quality of your meals.

But if you can make an effort to become a little bit healthier each day, you’ll undoubtedly see incredible results over time. For example, you could start by buying fast-food less frequently, and opting for home-cooked meals whenever possible.

Although adjusting your diet may seem like a small change to your lifestyle, the positive effect it’ll have on your mental health is truly incredible.

2. Not Wanting To Exercise.

I know exactly how you feel. You don’t want to do 100 press-ups a day, go for a 10km run, or do anything else that’s extremely exhausting. Listen, I’m not going to judge you. But unfortunately, sitting on the sofa all day can have an incredibly detrimental impact on your health.

I’ve found that a great way to improve your mental health with exercise is by walking more frequently during daily life. For example, you could take the stairs instead of an elevator or walk across town to get food on your lunch break. Quoting an article by the Australian Government Department of Health:

“Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. It can also get you out in the world, help to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation, and put you in touch with other people.”

You get the idea. So if you want to improve your mental health, consider finding ways to incorporate some light exercise into your daily schedule. Because when you improve your overall level of fitness, you’ll notice that any feelings of anxiety or depression will fade away.

3. Having Terrible Posture.

I used to have extremely poor posture. One of my friends even said I looked like the hunchback of Notre Dame as I always sat in a slouched position while looking down at my phone. To be honest, it’s not a surprise that I struggled to improve my self-esteem when I looked like that.

But over the past couple of years, I’ve found that standing up straight with your shoulders back is a great way to improve your mental health. Because when you implement the habits of people with high self-esteem, it’s much easier to improve your own. Julien Smith said it best:

“You can’t make yourself feel positive, but you can choose how to act, and if you choose right, it builds your confidence.”

According to research by Dr. Jean Kim in Psychology Today, “a more open posture and taller stance helps one feel comfortable with being exposed to the world and is associated with presenting greater confidence and ease to others.

Improving my posture changed my life as I quickly found myself acting like the type of person I wanted to become. And sure enough, the strategy worked. So if you want to improve your mental health, focusing on your posture is certainly a great place to start.

4. Not Getting Enough Sleep.

One of the easiest ways to improve your mental health is by getting enough sleep every night. For most people, eight hours is sufficient. But it’s important to remember that some people may need more, and others might require less.

Start improving your sleep by waking up at the same time, avoiding caffeine during the evening, and putting your phone in another room before you go to bed. Quoting an article by the Sleep Foundation:

“It’s close to impossible for your body to get accustomed to a healthy sleep routine if you’re constantly waking up at different times. Pick a wake-up time and stick with it, even on weekends or other days when you would otherwise be tempted to sleep in.”

So every day, ask yourself: “What bad habits can I eliminate to improve my mental health?”

That’s all you need to do.

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