Life is full of small, daily decisions and and little habits.
These decisions and habits can greatly effect our mental health over time – for better or worse.
Some of these habits were ingrained in us during our upbringing. Others we have picked up along the way – sometimes through cultural norms and sometimes through our own lack of judgement.
For me, I started to feel the negative effects of bad habits during my mid-twenties.
I had allowed things into my life that were crushing my sense of self and taking a toll on my mental health.
I had to come to the realization that I needed to make some serious lifestyle changes – if I wanted to happy, confident, and contented with life.
Below are 7 things I quit to boost my mental health.
1.) Social Media
This one may sound drastic and impossible, but stay with me!
I had Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
In the beginning, these social media platforms seemed amazing! They connected me with old friends, classmates, co-workers, and acquaintances.
But as I got older, I started to notice a change.
These platforms didn’t make me feel connected and happy at all! Instead, I found myself feeling sad, lonely, and discontented after scrolling through social media.
Not to mention that I had just WASTED way too much time aimlessly scrolling through statuses, advertisements, pictures, lots of “opinions”, and everyone’s “highlight reel” lives.
So I deactivated ALL my accounts and decided to go 3 months without any social media.
After 3 months of no social media, I felt so much happier that I never reactivated my accounts. This has improved my mental health and overall happiness 10-fold!
If this feels impossible to you, go through your “Friends List” and delete/unfollow anyone you are not close with.
If someone’s account makes you feel compared, inadequate, sad, or lonely – why are you a part of their online world?! You don’t have to do this to yourself!
Make your online social experience about connecting with the people you love, admire, and enjoy being around. Everyone else needs to go.
P.S. If you do decide to deactivate your accounts, expect to feel FOMO for a little while. But it will go away after a few weeks. Give it time and wait for the amazing benefits to your mental health!
2.) Being a People-Pleaser
This step is a lot easier said than done – especially if you are a chronic people-pleaser!
Is it hard for you to decline an offer, turn people down, or say “No” even if it adds a lot of stress to your life?
Do you constantly inconvenience yourself to meet other people’s needs?
Do you feel the need to explain yourself to other people – even when it is completely unnecessary?
Does the thought of disappointing someone make you feel worried?
There is nothing wrong with being a kind, considerate, and deeply thoughtful person! But if saying “No” to someone makes you feel extremely uncomfortable, something needs to change!
Being a people-pleaser is EXHAUSTING – not to mention that it makes you the victim of everyone else’s wishes! This severe lack of confidence will make you doubt your self-worth like nothing else.
Here is what I noticed made a big difference in my life. Standing up for myself was contagious!
The first time I said “No” to someone, declined to do someone else’s work, stuck up for myself when rudely treated, and didn’t cave to the pressure of someone else’s opinion was absolutely amazing!
My advice would be to start small. Start saying, “No I am unable to do that. But I hope you find someone else soon.”
You can still be polite and decline to assist/appease someone. Over time, you will probably get a lot better at simply saying “No” because you don’t need to explain yourself.
It’s a beautiful feeling and makes you feel so much more in-control of your life.
3.) Needing to Be “Skinny”
Even though this stigma is slowly changing, our society still paints SKINNY as the picture of health and beauty.
This may be attainable when you are younger, but life changes people!
We get older, our body changes, we have babies, our metabolism slows down, and our priorities shift.
For some people “staying slender and small” is easy because their body type makes this easily possible. For others, this might mean unhealthy restrictive dieting, excess exercise, and self loathing.
I ate healthy and exercised. I did everything right! And yet as I entered my late twenties, my boobs grew larger, my hips got larger, and my clothes stopped fitting. (The same thing happened to my Mom. Genetics!)
I was still healthy, but I no longer fit into a Size 2-4. For several years I chased the smaller clothing sizes and did everything I could to stay “skinny”.
But my quality of life went down and so did my self-image. It was really hard for me to look in the mirror because I felt so unhappy with my “new body”. Something had to change!
Finally, I donated all my “too tight” clothing from college and went out and bought clothes that actually fit my body type.
My body had changed and that was OK. I was still healthy and active, but I was no longer 21!
Eating healthy and exercising is important. But I had to realize that I was comparing myself to “Hollywood Red Carpet Bodies” instead of the one God gave me!
Embracing the body I was created with was one of the most empowering and freeing steps I every made.
4.) Staying Up Too Late
Remember the days when you could easily survive on 4-5 hours of sleep and still be energized during the day?
These days are probably behind you! If you think that you can maintain this lifestyle your whole life, you are actually doing your body a great disservice.
Lack of sleep causes chronic fatigue, stress, dark eye circles, and weight gain (to name a few).
Our bodies thrive on routine and structure! If you are able to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, absolutely do it!
I go to bed at 10:30 every single night and get at least 8 hours of sleep. (Every few years, this sleep schedule is interrupted with a new baby. That’s OK!)
Take this 2-week challenge! Change up your evening schedule and make it a priority to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Anything less should be considered a short-term necessity. Go to bed at the same time every night and try to get 8 hours of sleep. See how your body responds to the extra rest and consistent sleep schedule. You will feel more rested and your body will be able to regenerate itself!
5.) Letting Toxic People Overstep Boundaries
(This one goes hand-in-hand with #2, but it was worth it’s own section!)
Is there someone in your circle of family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, etc. who takes a negative toll on your mental health? Do they fill your life with drama, anxiety, manipulation, hurtful comments, comparison, and toxic gossip?
It’s time to set some boundaries! (Read the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. It’s a game-changer!)
- Some people I quietly distanced myself from. I remain cordial, but we are no longer close.
- I had some difficult, two-way conversations with a few people I really cared about. All relationships (with the exception of one) grew closer as a result. You can’t win them all!
- And a few people, I had to go “No Contact” with. Their effect on my life was so hurtful that they could no longer have a place there. When someone (including myself) refuses to see destructive behavior, guilt-tripping, and manipulation – those relationships have to go.
This may sound harsh, but it was something I had to do in my life to improve my mental health and overall happiness.
Sometimes, boundaries can be set without anyone noticing. (Like a distant friend you don’t want on social media.)
Sometimes, you need to have a conversation with someone and address past hurt or hurtful behavior. Difficult conversations can be done with kindness, love, and a desire for restoration.
But when someone refuses to accept any wrongdoing and defend their destructive behavior, that relationship probably isn’t one you want to keep in your life.
Learning to set boundaries and ensure that they are respected is a healthy, empowering thing to do.
It doesn’t make you the “bad guy”. It makes you someone who can stand up for what is right and has a healthy sense of self!
Related Articles: 7 Types Of Toxic People That Will Ruin Your Life
6.) Being Negative All The Time
Being a chronic complainer is so easy!
Have you ever noticed that being negative over something can bond you with someone else?
“Ugh, hate this weather today!”
“Did you read about XYZ in the news? Just awful. Makes you question everything.”
“Mondays again! I hate Monday so much. It’s the worst!”
It’s such an annoying habit that makes you a miserable person to be around! I was being a “Negative Nancy” all the time – for no reason!
I had to start actively thinking about the words that came out of my mouth. If they were negative, I held them in.
I started purposefully saying positive things – about life, other people, and myself.
Getting off social media and not looking at the news every day really helped too!
Choosing to be a positive person (regardless of life circumstances) encourages other people and lifts your own spirits. Positivity is contagious.
Making it a part of your every-day life can help you be more grateful, contented, and happy person.
Related Article: 9 Surprising Signs You’re a Negative Person
7.) My Crazy Stressful Job
Yep, I quit the job that was stressing me out more than anything else.
I couldn’t sleep at night. I dreaded going to work. My body’s immune system started weakening (I got sick all the time). My anxiety went through the roof. I cried at home – a lot.
So one day, with the encouragement from my family and friends, I quit my job!
I went out and found another job that was more fulfilling. Sure, I took a pay cut at first, but I was able to build myself up again and have a career I loved!
Sometimes, taking big, scary steps like this can be the best thing you ever do.
I did, and it changed my life!
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Is there some bad habits that you have allowed into your life that are taking a toll on your mental health?
Work towards getting them out of your life!
You’ve got a tough journey ahead of you, but it will benefit your mental health so very much.
Take little steps. It will get easier as you stay consistent and intentional with your goals.
I wish you the best!