Worst habits for mental health

Croak

Your social media habits, exerci­se routin­e, and even the way you walk may be suckin­g the joy out of your day

PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: Mental unease is usually brought on by factors beyond our control— a job loss, moving to another country or financial troubles. But the small choices you make every day may also affect your mood more than you may realise.

Your social media habits, exercise routine, and even the way you walk may be sucking the joy out of your day, without you knowing it. Luckily, these behaviours can be changed. As compiled by Daily Mail and Health magazine, discover ways you’re sabotaging your good moods.

You slouch

How we feel psychologically can have an effect on the way we walk, but the inverse is also true, finds a study published in the Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. Researchers found that when subjects were asked to walk with shoulders slouched, hunched over, and with minimum arm movements, they experienced worse moods than those who had more vigour in their steps. What’s more, participants who walked in the slouchy style thought of more negative things rather than positive. Talk about melancholy at every step.

You take a lot of pictures

Instagram queens, pay attention! Randomly snapping pictures, be it selfies or others may hamper how you remember those moments, according to a study published in Psychological Science. In the study, participants took a museum tour, observing objects and snapping shots of others as well as themselves. Afterward, they had a harder time remembering the moments they captured and it did stir some mental unrest. “The lens is a veil in front of your eyes and we don’t realise how much it affects the mental state,” says Diedra L. Clay, PsyD, chair and associate professor of the counselling and health psychology department at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington. Time to put the camera down and absorb imagery around you.

You let yourself get bullied

Bullying doesn’t end when you graduate school. Approximately 54 million workers, or 35 per cent of US employees, are targeted by a bully at some point in their careers, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute. More than 70 per cent of people have witnessed a workplace bully and have been mentally traumatised as a result, says Erin K. Leonard, PhD, a practicing psychotherapist and author of the book, Emotional Terrorism: Breaking the Chains of a Toxic Relationship. “Being attacked maliciously in the place of pride and self-esteem continuously, it can be devastating. It makes you emotionaly volatile so that it is even difficult to get up and go work.” It’s important to stand up for yourself and not allow anyone to run you down.

You don’t exercise

If you actively work out three times a week, your risk of being depressed decreases by 19 per cent, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry. After following more than 11,000 people and recording depressive symptoms and levels of physical activity at regular intervals, University College London researchers found a correlation between physical activity and depression. People who were depressed were less likely to be active, while those who were active were less likely to be depressed. In fact, for every time they were active, depression risk decreased by six per cent.

You take life too seriously

You trip on a rock in the sidewalk, and instead of shrugging it off, you cringe with embarrassment. If that sounds like you, it’s time to find some ways to laugh more. “There are many studies showing the benefits of laughter on our health and this includes mental health,” psychotherapist Leonard suggests. “Laughter is the fast medicine for anxiety and depression.” It’s miraculously healthy to seek out humour every day. Watch a funny movie, read an upbeat magazine, or spend time with friends who make you smile. You could even try volunteering with kids — they really do say the dandiest things.

You don’t actually talk to anyone

If you chiefly use texting, Facebook, and other social media to stay in touch with friends, you’re not having meaningful contact. “Facebook pages are entertainment,” Clay says. “These are not true conversations that allow us to understand people. Instead, it lessens our experiences and feelings.” Michael Mantell, PhD, a behavioural sciences coach based in San Diego, California, agrees. “Personal electronics, like smartphones have also impacted concentration, demands for immediate gratification, and expectations that the press of a button can lead to instantaneous connection,” Mantell says. We’ve learned to have virtual connections and this impacts our ability and interest in sitting in the same room with someone, and actually talking face-to-face, without feeling mentally troubled.

You multitask

We’re all guilty of this: we take lunch at our desks, scroll through twitter or browse the internet while watching TV, and text pretty much constantly. Research shows that although many people believe they’re being more productive by handling two or more things at the same time, that’s not actually the case — it just leaves the mind stressed and massively worn-out. Tackling too much at once makes us oblivious to our surroundings, leaving us unable to communicate effectively. It’s time to put down the phone, turn off the television, and pay attention to what’s going on around you. Allowing your brain to process everything that is happening to you in real time may be the best thing you can do for superior mental health.

Compiled By: Umnia Shahid

, January 22nd, 2015.

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