Hey Psych2Goers! Have you been struggling lately? Do you find yourself not only physically exhausted, but also emotionally burnt-out before bedtime? There can be quite few reasons for this. Especially if it refers to your mental health. There’s certainly a lot to keep track of inside of your brain. Sometimes, almost too much.
Think of your emotional and psychological wellbeing like a garden. It needs regulated nurturing in order to properly grow. Sometimes we forget to water those plants. The more we forget, the harder it is for our garden to grow. We can pick up bad habits and negative routines that initially feel harmless on the surface, but over time can fester and rot on the inside.
What are ‘5 Things You Didn’t Know Affect Your Mental Health?’
Disclaimer: This post is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional if you are struggling.
#1: Consistent Negative Self-Talk
Do you think of yourself as a positive person? Do you try your very best to encourage a friend when they’re feeling down? By comparison, it’s likely that you may not be as kind to yourself. Does this sound familiar? Are you laughing right now, because you know this to be true?
There’s the age-old adage that “you are your own worst critic”. We tend to be the toughest on ourselves and far more forgiving of others. Negative self-talk is easier to accept than you might think. It can come from many different sources. Perhaps you’re spending too much time alone. Or maybe it’s the opposite. You could be hanging around too many negative people. Either way, the bad thoughts can be overwhelmingly constant.
Negative self-talk can sometimes be so casual in your daily life, that you may not even realize you’re doing it in the first place. Does this get pointed out to you by others? The more you do it, the more harmful your thoughts can become. It may be really hard sometimes to find something you like about yourself, but try. I know it’s hard, but chances are there’s at least one or two things you can think of. Two positive things can eventually become three. Three can become four, and so on.
#2: Lack of Exercise
After the last two years that we’ve all had being stuck inside, you may want to get out there again and exercise. If going outside still feels scary, that’s okay too. Physical exercise has been proven to help with controlling weight, and can assist against health conditions and diseases. Physical exercise has also proven to help with your mental health. It can boost your self-esteem. Do you feel happier when you’re exercising? That’s likely due to your brain releasing chemicals into your body called “endorphins”.
To help remember the word, try picturing a pod of happy dancing dolphins, and that might also release more endorphins just by thinking about the word itself. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, which is similar to the feeling of morphine. Another term for this is known as “jogger’s high”. If you’re not exercising, it’s very likely that you’re not receiving enough endorphins into your body. We could all use more happy, dancing dolphins in our brains, right?
3: Unfulfilling Job
It’s definitely a great feeling when you have a steady income, especially if you’re financially stable. Having money, or the lack thereof, can oftentimes be a big stressor in our lives. Having money coming into your bank account on a consistent basis can definitely lower your anxiety. Especially when the bills are paid and the rent is covered. It’s important for you to have food on the table and a place to sleep.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the physiological need for food and shelter is at the very base of the triangle. The second level above that, is safety and security, which is what a job will ideally give you. But it’s also important that you feel fulfilled by the work that you do.
If you find yourself dreading going into work every single day, where you’re miserable for eight hours straight, you may feel like a new job is in order. It’s important that we’re able to take care of ourselves, but it’s also important that we get fulfilment from the work we do. You may not be in a position to look for a new job right now, and that’s okay too. Just remember that if you feel stuck in your current situation, it won’t have to be like that forever.
#4: Over or Under-Sleeping
We all love to sleep. It’s a great feeling when we get into our comfy pyjamas and crawl under the covers. Especially at the end of a long day. Do you prefer the warm or cold side of the pillow? According to SleepFoundation.org, adults should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. Sometimes people need more. Sometimes they need less. If you’re an early-bird that loves catching worms, then oversleeping may be tough for you. Sleeping in later than usual may make you feel unproductive, especially when all the worms are gone.
If you tend to under-sleep, your entire body usually feels it. When your body doesn’t feel so great, your mind may not feel a hundred percent either. You may struggle to get even the simplest of tasks accomplished because you’re so fatigued. It’s important to get the right number of hours in Dreamland, so we can take on the next day in full force.
If your body feels a hundred percent from being well-rested, your mind will likely follow.
#5: Your Living Space
Are you often checking your phone for new places to rent? Are you finding yourself overwhelmed by the high cost of living, compared to the low-end of minimum wage? You may be thankful for the roof over your head and the bed to sleep in. Everything else in your life may not be up to your personal par. You may feel like your apartment is too small. Wishing it were more spacious. Or you may not have as nice a couch, or as big a TV as your neighbour’s next door.
Your living space is the place you normally go back to at the end of the day. It should feel like a place of warmth and comfort. A sanctuary, of sorts. It’s perfectly normal to put your dirty dishes in the sink. If you’re not happy with where you live, this can affect your mood. The first couple of dishes can quickly become a few. The few can become many. To the point they reach the heights of a porcelain Mt. Kilimanjaro. The fruit flies will certainly thank you, before your roommates ever do.
If you’re not happy with your home, the messes will pile up. Your mental health can also be viewed the same way. If you don’t keep those dirty dishes clean and properly put away in your mind, the sink that is your brain can become overcrowded. Those pesky mental fruit flies will swarm all over the place. You’d probably much rather picture dancing dolphins in your head instead of fruit flies anyway.
Maintaining your mental health is a full-time job. If only you got paid for it, right? It’s important to keep track of how you’re feeling throughout your days and your weeks. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by the chaos of life. Don’t feel bad if you feel overwhelmed. It happens to the best of us. School, a job, student loans and bills, etc… are just a few of the things you’re possibly dealing with and/or struggling to handle on a daily basis.
It’s important to do all of these things for sure, but it’s also equally important to check in with yourself. Are you taking care of your own needs? It’s great when a friend checks in with you, but it’s okay for you to check in with yourself as well. Just remember that making sure you’re doing okay is equally as important as asking someone else how they’re feeling.
If you do need help, please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional.
The studies and references used herein are listed in the description below.
The Toxic Effects of Negative Self Talk by Elizabeth Scott, PhD (February 25th, 2020) https://www.verywellmind.com/negative-self-talk-and-how-it-affects-us-4161304
Exercise and Depression by Debra Fulghum Bruce, PhD (February 18th, 2020) https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs by Kendra Cherry (February 14th, 2022) https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-4136760
How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? by Eric Suni (April 13th, 2022) https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need