The World Health Organisation estimates that mental disorders affect one in four people.
While research shows that some mental health disorders such as major depression and schizophrenia have genetic links what many people don’t realise is that many mental health issues are treatable and manageable.
Public awareness of mental health issues such as insomnia and anxiety are improving and in addition to prescription medication, treatments such as meditation, therapy and alternative medicine such as acupuncture and essential oils are growing in popularity to treat and manage the affects of mental health.
However, while people are seeking treatment for mental health more now than ever before, there are habits that we may not realise contribute to our mental health or may not realise we are actually doing.
Here are three mistakes you might make every day that harms your mental health.
Neglecting Your Sleep
Quality sleep does much more than just prevent fatigue during the day—although that is a big one.
Sleep provides your body the ability to repair as well as organises your thoughts, feelings, emotions and memories. If you suffer sleep deprivation your body has not had the time, nor the efficiency in repairing your body or organising your mind.
While we may consider fatigue a matter of just being tired that is resolved with a little caffeine and a nap, it actually takes much longer to overcome your sleep debt than the few hours you didn’t sleep.
Without sleep you will lack focus, motivation, the ability to think through simple tasks as well as coordination. In addition, it can lead to a cyclical path of insomnia.
So, how can you get your sleep? Create an environment conducive to your needs. That may include a comfortable bed, essential oils, black-out curtains, mood music, meditation and a nightly routine.
Berating Yourself and Negative Thoughts
While berating yourself for making small mistakes or thinking negative thoughts about yourself may seem like an obvious thing of what not to do, this style of impulsive thinking does not always hit the radar.
Since we are young, we grow up hearing our parents, teachers, coaches and other adults tell us what is wrong and what we can’t do. Then, as adults, we often tell ourselves what is wrong in order to do what is right. This may be in the form of verbal assaults on mistakes or looking in a mirror “searching” for physical flaws.
So, while you may believe that berating yourself or having negative thoughts such as, “I will never be able to do this” or “I am such an idiot,” is no big deal, it really is.
Comparing Yourself to Others
Comparing ourselves to others is so commonplace and natural that there is a term for it: Keeping up with the Joneses.
While the short of it is that our impression of someone else is relative and often not the whole story, we don’t like to think of life that way. We enjoy looking at our friends and seeing what they have—or what we think they have—and we don’t.
However, what we are really doing when we compare ourselves to others is creating an internal image of self-doubt. We are undermining our own achievements and devaluing our potential.
The pressure that we put on ourselves by comparing our life to others leads to the belief that you are not good enough or will never achieve your goals.
While mental health disorders have a variety of causes such as genetics, PTSD, lack of sleep, and daily stress there are little things we do to ourselves that count, too.
Take note of these unhealthy habits and consciously work to improve your lifestyle to be more conducive to better mental health. If mental health concerns persist, contact a medical professional to assist you in your journey.
This piece was kindly written and contributed by Laurie Larson.
Celebrate 21 years of mental health research, projects and awareness at the 2020 International Mental Health Conference this July!