Hey, Psych2Goers! What comes to your mind when you think of things affecting your mental health? Do you think of childhood trauma? Do you think of abuse? These events have severe effects on your mental health. Several theories and research are made about these topics. But did you know small things are equally as harmful as these life-changing events? They might even be more tricky because you do not recognize them as something that would affect your mental health. For you to avoid them, here are the 6 small but harmful things that destroy your mental health.
- Bad Posture
Let’s be honest. This is the last thing in mind when you think of mental health but it might affect. According to a study from the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry (2017), a person’s terrible posture affects their mood. The experiment showed that a person with a bad posture displays a more negative mood and stress in difficult situations. Those with good posture showed improved mood, high self-esteem, and reduced fatigue in the same difficult situations. Good and upright posture also provides focus and attention even in stressful situations (Broadbent et. al, 2014). So, maybe when you start practicing a better posture, you develop better moods and eventually better mental health.
Marie Kondo said that we only need to keep things that spark joy! This trend of decluttering has increased over the years and rightfully so. According to research from the Current Psychology journal (2017), clutter is highly related to procrastination. When you are surrounded by clutter, you tend to put off cleaning, and the more you clutter the more you will find it overwhelming to clean up. This cycle leads to feelings of frustration which affects your mental health. Another study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2010) showed that clutter increases the cortisol level which induces stress. Marie Kondo’s tidying-up show is not just for entertainment, it can also improve our mental health.
- Self-deprecating Jokes
Laughter is the best medicine but when you are the joke, it is already a different conversation. Self-deprecating jokes are undervaluing or belittling oneself through humor. Research suggests that it is a sign of self-awareness and that a person is not taking themselves seriously. It can also be a sign of great well-being (University of Granada, 2018). But when you do it too often and becomes a habit, self-deprecating jokes can be detrimental to your mental health. Constant self-deprecating jokes create cognitive distortion when you start to believe in the jokes (Dozois, Martin & Rnic, 2016). You start to internalize the belittling and undervaluing. It creates a different notion of yourself affecting your self-identity. Self-deprecating jokes are also linked to depression and dysphoria. (Dozois, Martin & Rnic, 2016). A balance of how and when to do self-deprecating jokes is the key to healthy humor and mental health.
“But first let me take a selfie,” says a famous song in the 2010s pop era. The selfie has become a culture of its own that social media networks are created around it. It is fun to do. But the negative effects of this somehow benign activity are detrimental. Several studies have already shown the negative effects of selfies on body image and mental health. In a new study, this conclusion is even expanded showing that selfies even retaken and retouched for a better result still resulted in a negative self-image (Mills, 2018). They show similar body consciousness and anxiety to those who did not edit or retouch their images.
Multitasking is the modern skill most highly valued. Companies hire those who can multitask to increase productivity and revenue. Home chores also require multitasking. And to be honest, accomplishing a lot feels good. But multitasking has its negative effects on mental health. Multitasking is correlated to negative emotions and being irritable (Boston Evening Therapy, 2020). Because you might do too much, the stress makes you easily frustrated and angered. So, maybe the things we accomplish cancel out the true effects of multitasking.
- Venting or Complaining
Venting or complaining has its benefits. Being open about your emotions can help you express your mind. It’s normal to vent out because life can be hard. But when you do it too much and too often, it can have detrimental effects on your mental health. According to experts, venting is part of your body’s emotional response when something is not right. It is your body’s way to suffice your emotional need. But as emotional as it is, venting is also a cognitive matter (Suttie, 2021). Venting will help you find other perspectives about certain matters. But when you vent too much you might lose sight of another perspective that might have provided a better idea. You block cognitive soothing and you lose your trail in negative thoughts affecting your mental health. Scientists also believe that too much venting will open the way for you to be easily angered (Suttie, 2021). A good balance of speaking and listening is the balance you need to have when you vent.
These things aren’t all that bad. Some are fun and can be helpful too. But when we do them too often than we should, it will start to affect our mental health. As small as they may seem, they can have huge effects on our mental health. Try to notice these things, and improve them the next time because these small steps could lead to better mental health.
Beau, E. L. (2019, January 3). The unbearable heaviness of Clutter. The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/03/well/mind/clutter-stress-procrastination-psychology.html
Content, B. E. T. (2021, January 15). Effects of multitasking on Mental Health. Boston Evening Therapy Associates. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://bostoneveningtherapy.com/effects-of-multitasking-on-mental-health/
Ferrari, J. R., & Roster, C. A. (2017, September 18). Delaying disposing: Examining the relationship between procrastination and clutter across generations. Current Psychology, 37(2), 426–431. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-017-9679-4
Nair, S., Sagar, M., Sollers, J., Consedine, N., & Broadbent, E. (2014, September). Do slumped and upright postures affect stress responses? A randomized trial. Health Psychology, 34(6), 632–641. https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000146
Dozois, D. J., Martin, R. A. & Rnic, K., (2016, August 19). Cognitive distortions, humor styles, and Depression. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 12(3), 348–362. https://doi.org/10.5964/ejop.v12i3.1118
Saxbe, D., & Repetti, R. L. (2010, January). For better or worse? coregulation of couples’ cortisol levels and mood states. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(1), 92–103. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0016959
Suttie, J. S. (2021, June 21). Does venting your feelings actually help? Greater Good. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/does_venting_your_feelings_actually_help
University of Granada. (2018, February 8). Self-defeating humor promotes psychological well-being, study reveals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 13, 2022 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180208104225.htm
Wilkes, C., Kydd, R., Sagar, M., & Broadbent, E. (2017, March 1). Upright posture improves effect and fatigue in people with depressive symptoms. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 54, 143–149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2016.07.015