Seven Habits That Are Actually Bad For Your Mental Health

Posted: November 17, 2022 | Author: Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 6 minutes

SUU Bell TowerThere’s so much buzz on the internet and in society about how to tackle your mental health struggles. From self-care Sundays to going for a run or simply talking it out with a friend, there are infinite ways to calm down, put yourself in a better mindset and improve your mental health. The tricky part is discerning which methods do more harm than good to your mental health. To make it a little easier, here are seven things that are not super beneficial to your mental health.

Habits That Aren’t Great for Your Mental Health

Headspace Habits

Did you know that your brain can’t tell the difference between reality and what you tell it to be true? The reality you create for yourself is the reality your brain believes. Often it’s easy to sabotage your mind by holding yourself to high expectations and unrealistic standards because that’s the reality your brain is telling you to be a part of. Some of these habits include perfectionism, guilt-tripping, holding onto regret, and a failure mindset. Think about it; if you’re too busy worrying about being perfect all the time, you won’t have any room to learn! If you’re guilt-tripping yourself and holding onto all that regret about not being perfect, that can drastically affect your mental health. If you tell yourself you’re going to fail, you will.

To get out of this headspace, practice talking kindly to yourself; maybe try some affirmations in the mirror in the morning. Remember that it’s okay not to be perfect–focus on being the best you that you can be. The best you will be is perfect enough.

Sucked into Social Media

You’ve heard it so many times before–social media can be detrimental to your mental health. What they don’t tell you is that it’s only bad if it’s used excessively. Have you ever opened up your phone to check an email only to get a notification from Twitter? Suddenly, two hours have passed, and you’ve gone down a rabbit hole for something you don’t even care about. There’s a special name for doing something like this–resourcing. According to psychology specialists, therapists, and other professionals, resourcing is doing something mundane and serotonin-inducing to get your mind off a bigger issue or conflict you’re dealing with. Scrolling endlessly through social media fits the bill as one of the most common resourcing tactics. Consider it a coping mechanism.

To combat this social media addiction, try setting a timer on your phone or activating the “Screen Time” feature to tell you when it’s time to put it away and do something else. Try writing down your thoughts–writing is processing.

And try to connect with your circle of friends on your side of the screen.

Rejecting Rest

Ignoring your body’s signals to sleep can cause a lot of damage to your mental health because you don’t have the energy to deal with mental strife. Life is hard, and not having enough energy to deal with the curveballs makes it harder. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night to replenish your energy and let your brain and body rest from the stress you undergo every day. And don’t stay up too late every night!

Try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night and more on the weekends to help replenish your energy. If you have a hard time putting down your phone and forcing yourself to get some sleep, try setting a timer and turning your phone on night mode so it isn’t as hard on your eyes. Once the timer goes off, turn your phone to “Do Not Disturb” to reduce the risk of hearing it buzz while you’re trying to catch a few zzzs.

Master of Multitasking…Maybe?

It’s physically impossible to multitask anything because the brain can only be heavily focused on one thing at a time. Trying to force it to multitask can leave you feeling frazzled and frustrated.

Instead of trying to get everything done at once, make a list organizing your “to-do’s” in order of priority. This way, you can process what takes priority and get things done as they come up.

Bursts and Burials of Emotion

It can be easy to allow emotions to rule your life. However, that outburst of anger when someone cuts in front of you in line at the Taco Bell drive-thru or bottling up all your frustration when your friend won’t stop talking about her new boyfriend to hug you after a hard day is both detrimental to your mental health.

Learn to regulate your breathing when you’re in the heat of the moment–ask yourself what is really bothering you to make you this angry about something as little as the Taco Bell drive-thru. Try to communicate with your friend that you could use her help, and be earnest. If she doesn’t listen, go to someone else who you know will listen. A lot of it is looking internally and figuring out what is at the root of the problem.

Prime Packages Before Problem-Solving

Retail therapy in small doses can be helpful and can feel like you’re treating yourself to something nice. But when Amazon becomes your go-to coping mechanism, suddenly, you find yourself scrambling to get money to pay your electric bill, your phone bill, your car payment, and other things. That mini crock-pot sitting on your counter seems to stare you down and make you feel guilty about buying something you may or may not have really needed.

Instead of spending your entire paycheck on things in the name of “self-care,” try budgeting. It can help you learn to manage your money so you can pay off the important things first and maybe leave a little something extra for you to get for yourself.

Food and Feels

Focus on giving your body the nutrition it needs to get through the day–food is fuel! Analyze your relationship with food and try to pull something from the five food groups to give your body the proper nutrients for every meal.

There have been many studies done that have linked mental health to what you eat. It can be easy to feel depressed or guilty about treating yourself to a sugary sweet now and again, but one of the biggest things that can help you fight the urge to Doordash your dinner all the time is meal prep. Take a day to pre-cook beans, chop vegetables, or slowly replace your white rice and bread with whole grain counterparts. You don’t have to completely change your diet in a day–take a few weeks to find your healthy new “feel-good-food.” Talk to a dietician for extra insight. You’ll notice a change in your mental health as it becomes more of a habit.


Your mental health is of the utmost importance because it can influence your performance in school, work, relationships, and other aspects of your life. And don’t be afraid to ask for help! Reach out to a friend, family member, or significant other when you need a hug. You can also reach out to SUU Counseling and Psychological Services on campus for professional advice or counseling or check out SUU's mental health resources for students. Learning to manage it and figure out where you can improve is the first step to self-regulation when times get tough. Find your strengths and use them!

Tags: Mental Health Student Life CAPS

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