These days we have access to so much information. We have a niggle about something we go straight to Google. We’ve into all kinds of self-diagnosing, a single search enough to leave you in a haze of frantic worry. But sometimes we take in so much information, we see, we hear what we should do but we don’t actually do it. This can ring especially true when it comes to mental health but here are five ways you could be wrecking your mental health, whether you realize it or now.

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Not Getting Enough Sleep. 

This is a pretty basic one but it’s amazing how little attention is paid to it. This is especially important for people with predispositions for mood disorders or anxiety. A decent night’s sleep can really make the difference between an ok day and a great day. Things just flow better. The Mental Health Foundation published an entire report on the links between poor sleep and instances of depression and anxiety. But getting a good nights sleep can be a problem, especially if you’re in the midst of a blue period and these days it’s all about sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is basically the period of preparation before you go to sleep. Some positive practices include the following:

  • Winding down your phone use an hour before bed
  • Avoiding caffeinated drinks after a certain period
  • Going to bed at the same time every night (as much as is possible) 
  • Keeping the temperature in your room cool and the light-dark
  • Dedicate your bed to sleep and sex, nothing else. No eating, no watching tv 

The Mental Health Foundation has an entire report

Hanging Out With Toxic People 

Again, this one should be pretty straight forward but sometimes we don’t even realise we are putting ourselves in the company of toxic people. That boss you work for 40 hours a day – if they’re toxic then there’s a good chance that’s having a big impact on you. That old friend who you feel like you have to be there for – are they adding to you life? And I don’t mean that to be dismissive but what I do mean is that your mental health must be number 1. Until you are in a place of strength and stability you can’t do much in the line of helping others. So take stock, notice those who lift you up and those who cloud you with drama and negativity. 

Not Doing Enough Exercise

I fought this one for years. Sure, we all know exercise is good but it somehow felt like an urban myth the health police got together and fabricated as a means to get us moving. But this is fact. The more we move the better we feel and this happens for a number of reasons. We produce more serotonin, dopamine and endorphins – all of which deliver a dose of happiness to the brain. So whether that’s heading down to the gym to do a class or getting out in the fresh air – go for gold. Or better still go for green. Exposure to green spaces is recommended again and again as a self-care practice for those managing mental health illnesses.

exposure to green spaces is excellent for depression and anxiety

Medicating with Substances

This one is a little tricky, and definitely one that people aren’t that open talking about. It’s still taboo. Have a bad day – sink a bottle of wine. Boss stressing you out – cigarette break? We all need to let off some steam every now and then but if you’re letting off steam is a result of or causing any of the following then you may be using substances to medicate. You’re not alone, half the country is but it’s a good gauge of things going on beneath the surface. 

  • Drinking to escape – from reality, a bad day, a sh*tty situation 
  • Because you prefer who you are when you drink 
  • You need it to socialize more easily 
  • Your social life revolves around pubs, clubs and noisy hubs 
  • To ease stress 

Isolating Yourself Socially 

This one can be difficult too because the worse you feel the more likely you are to withdraw. Trust me I’ve been there. We all need alone times in life but loneliness and solitary situations are linked to mental health problems. While it might be the last thing you want to do try to get involved. Meet a friend for tea, call someone you know well, someone who knows your situation or who talks a lot so you don’t have to worry if you’re not in the mood. Anything to get some kind of interaction going. And these steps can be baby steps – take the train, walk around the city, get out and about, anything that lends itself to interaction, whatever that might mean to you at any given time. 

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