Could you be harming your mental health without even realizing it? Identifying some mental health pitfalls can be the first step towards improving your mental health. Here are 7 things that harm your mental health.
1. Being stuck in the past
We sometimes find ourselves dwelling over what we should have done in a certain situation, to the point where it becomes tiring. Rumination is the psychological replay of stressful situations over and over. These responses to negative emotions are associated with higher depressive symptoms over time, and are predictive of future depressive episodes (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2000).
2. Living with a “fixed” mindset
People who believe that their qualities are fixed and unchangeable have a fixed mindset. For example, this could be a child who believes he will never succeed in math because “he wasn’t born a genius”. A person with a fixed mindset may feel unmotivated to learn because he believes that he is not “cut out” for it, when this is actually far from the truth. In contrast, a person with a growth mindset embraces challenges, learns from failures, and persists throughout setbacks (Dweck, 2008).
3. Excessively seeking reassurance
If you constantly find yourself asking the question, “am I doing it right?” in countless occasions, it’s time to end this habit! Excessive
reassurance-seeking is involved in the development of depressive symptoms, showing its potential role as a vulnerability factor for depression (Joiner & Metalsky, 2001).
4. Feeling no support during difficult times
Tackling life’s biggest challenges alone is a difficult feat, especially for females. Indeed, women who were exposed to life events with no social support had higher rates of depression than men with no support (Dalgard et al., 2006).
5. Forgetting to take mental health days
Everyone always seems very busy, leaving no time for themselves and their mental health. From who entrepreneurs work long hours without breaks to students who study until dawn, it can be distressing! Working for extended periods of time with no breaks can lead to burnout, which is a state of complete exhaustion. Burnout was a significant predictor of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and gastrointestinal issues under the age of 45 (Salvagioni et al., 2007).
6. Setting unrealistic expectations of others
When you hold yourself and others to unattainable ideals, you’re likely setting yourself up for disappointment. Marital therapy couples who held unrealistic beliefs for each other were negatively associated with overall marital satisfaction, showing that ultra-high expectations can harm relationships (Epstein & Eidelson, 1981). Therefore, consider assessing the expectations you hold for others!
7. Not sleeping enough
Do you find yourself only sleeping for six hours a day? For adolescents, six hours is far below the ~eight-hour sleep recommendation, resulting in sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation was associated with depressive indices in medical trainees (Al-Abri, 2015) and an increase in anxiety scores (Sagaspe, 2006).
In sum, you’ve read about 7 things that harm your mental health. Note down the things you may be doing that harm your mental health, and begin finding solutions to these issues to improve your mental health. On a related note, read about specific ways to manage negative emotions here.
Al-Abri, M. A. (2015). Sleep Deprivation and Depression: A bi-directional association. Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, 15(1), e4.
Dalgard, O. S., Dowrick, C., Lehtinen, V., Vazquez-Barquero, J. L., Casey, P., Wilkinson, G., … & ODIN group. (2006). Negative life events, social support and gender difference in depression. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 41(6), 444-451.
Dweck, C. S. (2008). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House Digital, Inc..
Epstein, N., & Eidelson, R. J. (1981). Unrealistic beliefs of clinical couples: Their relationship to expectations, goals and satisfaction. American Journal of Family Therapy, 9(4), 13-22.
Joiner Jr, T. E., & Metalsky, G. I. (2001). Excessive reassurance seeking: Delineating a risk factor involved in the development of depressive symptoms. Psychological Science, 12(5), 371-378.
Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2000). The role of rumination in depressive disorders and mixed anxiety/depressive symptoms. Journal of abnormal psychology, 109(3), 504.
Sagaspe, P., Sanchez-Ortuno, M., Charles, A., Taillard, J., Valtat, C., Bioulac, B., & Philip, P. (2006). Effects of sleep deprivation on Color-Word, Emotional, and Specific Stroop interference and on self-reported anxiety. Brain and cognition, 60(1), 76-87.
Salvagioni, D. A. J., Melanda, F. N., Mesas, A. E., González, A. D., Gabani, F. L., & de Andrade, S. M. (2017). Physical, psychological and occupational consequences of job burnout: A systematic review of prospective studies. PloS one. z