Our emotional well-being is more important now than ever it seems. With the majority of people quarantined up in their homes, things can get a little… depressing. I mean there’s only so much Netflix and Zoom calls you can take before you feel like screaming out your window.
The worst part is, your favorite TV show only has so many seasons streaming. And eventually, (gulp), there will be no, more, episodes, left.
Yes, I know. Pretty dramatic. But what else is there to do all cooped up inside?
The answer may be different for everyone. Take up a hobby, learn a new instrument, color book your way to sanity again. Whatever it is that keeps you going physically, you need to take care of your emotional health as well. So, it’s best not to pick up any bad habits that affect you emotionally during quarantine.
Here are eight habits that destroy your emotional well-being. (Good for both pandemic and pre-pandemic uses.)
1. Suppressing Your Emotions, Especially Anger
While it may seem convenient at the time to go ahead and ignore that sadness or anger inside you, – I mean according to you, you have work to do! – But suppressing your emotions can actually do more harm than good in the long run.
Just because you consciously suppress your emotions, does not mean they go away. Instead, they build up. You should instead express emotions such as sadness, anger, or anxiety to someone you trust. Just imagine what could happen if you don’t allow yourself to release an emotion like anger, and instead let it build up?
“[Anger has] been linked to obesity, low self-esteem, migraines, drug and alcohol addiction, depression, sexual performance problems, increased heart attack risk, lower-quality relationships, higher probability of abusing others emotionally or physically or both … higher blood pressure and stroke,” says Dr. Schinnerer, an anger management coach who was a consultant on the Pixar movie “Inside Out”, an animated film about emotions.
Anger can also lead to insomnia, anxiety, self-esteem issues, and mental or brain fog to name a few.
This is just anger. There are physical and mental problems that can arise from any suppression of emotion it seems. Because if these emotions build up, they will eventually rise to the surface, and likely explode out of you like a volcano!
Just, uh… givin’ you a visual image.
So, what are we supposed to do about all these feelings?
Well, Schinnerer suggests one way to break this cycle, and that begins with mindfulness: “One way to do this, he says, is by becoming more aware of when you’re angry in the present moment, then looking at the emotion in a nonjudgmental and curious way. So instead of beating yourself up, acknowledge how you’re feeling and think about ways to cope.”
So, take a break if you’re feeling anger in a toxic situation, and leave the room. Pretend your favorite pizza dish has just arrived, and you need to ‘pause’ your game. That is, the treacherous game of anger. Level 5: Volcano Eruptions of Fury
Hey, I’m givin’ ya visuals here.
Remove yourself from the situation that’s making you angry, find a place or person you’re comfortable with, and feel the emotions, express them. Do this in a way that doesn’t let you overthink the situation to the point of exhaustion. You’re expressing and letting go.
Let go of any anger, grudges, or anxiety after expressing them. With sadness, express them as well, and try to focus on the things that you value in your life. It can be a good idea to talk with a counselor or therapist if you feel these unwanted emotions persist and are piling up.
Remember, this is just anger. But you can do this with all your emotions. Feel them in the moment, or express them in a calm way. Then let the emotions flow out of you. Like an ocean breeze, in the midsummer air…
Visuals! (I find it helps release them in a… cathartic and healthy way.)
2. Letting the Stress Get to You, and Letting it Pile Up
Similar to suppressing your emotions, stress can find a way to get to you. Now, it is best to express your anxiety instead of suppressing, but what if these stress levels are at an all-time high?
Letting your stress get out of control, by not expressing it or over analyzing situations, can be an unhealthy habit. When stressed, your brain releases a hormone called cortisol. When this hormone is produced in large amounts it can prevent the brain from functioning as it should.
It’s best to take a mental health break when needed if your anxiety becomes overwhelming. With all this time indoors, a few minutes of meditation or doing another activity that calms you when you find yourself overthinking and overwhelmed, may be a good idea. And of course, if you find the stress to be too much, talking with someone and letting these feelings out in a healthy way can help.
3. Not Sleeping Enough
Now, lots of people have poor sleeping habits. Does that make it healthy? No.
Not getting your eight hours of sleep every day has been shown to make things worse for mental health.
What makes things worse is 60 to 90 percent of patients with depression also have insomnia, according to The Sleep Health Foundation. So people whose emotional well-being may already be suffering are possibly causing further health problems by not being able to get their full rest.
Not only do you get grumpy and groggy from not getting enough sleep, but it can also not be good for your emotional well-being in the long run.
4. Bad Posture
According to a study in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, upright posture can have a positive affect and reduce fatigue.
Everyone who doesn’t sleep eight hours a night? Stand up straight!
The preliminary study’s conclusions suggested that: “adopting an upright posture may increase positive affect, reduce fatigue, and decrease self-focus in people with mild-to-moderate depression.”
The study is pretty fascinating. You can read directly from the journal here.
5. Not Exercising
Exercise is not only important for our physical health, but for our emotional well-being as well. During quarantine, you may find yourself not exercising as much as before. This can become a habit.
Regular exercise releases endorphins which make us happy naturally. According to an article from MayoClinic, exercise can release “feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids) and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being.”
So get out of the house and out to the gym- oh. …never mind.
Get out of your bed! And onto your treadmill! …That is, if you own a treadmill.
Ya know what? A walk should suffice.
6. Negative Thoughts, and Feeling You’ve ‘Failed’, Constantly
Now we’ve talked about suppressing emotions, but what if the negative ones plague your mind, constantly. If you find yourself thinking you’re are a failure, or that you don’t measure up to something, or that you won’t achieve your dreams, or you weren’t who you thought you’d be- Stop it! That’s unhealthy and you know it!
Now, better said than done, right? If these thoughts become habit, you may find yourself not setting any goals at all, as in fear of not achieving them when you do try. Or you won’t even be measured up to something at all because you never left the house to buy measuring tape.
It’s time to reel yourself out from your own negative thoughts and take a look at the positive ones you are neglecting. You aren’t a failure.
At least… not constantly? Seriously! Nobody can be a failure constantly. So stop thinking about it all the time!
7. Being on Social Media. All. The Time.
As much as you like mindlessly scrolling and pressing the heart button on your friends’ social media posts, posting selfies and photos of your food (Stop it! You’re making me hungry), and posting relatable memes all day- Well… that one is pretty fun.
But! As much as you like spending your undue time on social media, it isn’t always great for your mental health.
I mean, think about it. You’re often hunched over and cramped, staring at a little screen.
Straight posture everyone! Straight posture!
Not only that, but people often find themselves comparing themselves to photo shopped influencers with unrealistic lives. Plus, too much of one thing can tend to be bad, and unproductive in this case.
8. Not Being True to Yourself
Have you ever said ‘yes’ to something, simply because you were peer pressured? Or perhaps you felt that’s what others wanted from you?
Stop it! You are wonderful. So, stop doing things that aren’t true to who you are.
Phew. Gotta take it easy, I know. It’s just, you’re so god dang wonderful.
Everyone is unique. Everyone is different. So why do you tend to compare yourself to others? Or try to please them so much if it’s not pleasing you.
It’s best to ask yourself if you are living your life for yourself, or for others. Following simply what others tell you to do, in a way that is an attempt to change who you are, is likely to leave you suppressing the real you deep inside. And we all know what suppression can do for our mental health.
Taking care of your emotional well-being means taking care of yourself. And if you hide who you are to please others, who are you instead? Why not please yourself in a balanced way? If not, you may be trying to be someone else for the sake of others. And consequentially, suppressing your true values and self in the process.
Who are you? Where are you hiding?
It’s time to create some good habits and say yes to getting your emotional well-being on track.
We can start with sitting up tall and sharing this article. Maybe giving it a big thumbs up?
After that, maybe lay off the social media, will you?
Say yes!-Say yes!-Say yes!
-Well, I mean… only if you want to.
Written by Michal Mitchell
- Wilkes C; Kydd R; Sagar M; Broadbent E. “Upright Posture Improves Affect and Fatigue in People with Depressive Symptoms.” Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27494342/.
- “Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 27 Sept. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495.
- Ton, Sarah. “8 Bad Habits That Interfere With Your Mental Health.” Thrive Global, 10 Jan. 2020, thriveglobal.com/stories/8-bad-habits-that-interfere-with-your-mental-health/.
- “The Ten Worst Habits for Your Mental Health.” CareersinPsychology.org, careersinpsychology.org/ten-worst-habits-mental-health/.
- O. Schroeder, Michael. “The Physical and Mental Toll of Being Angry All the Time.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 26 Oct. 2017, health.usnews.com/wellness/mind/articles/2017-10-26/the-physical-and-mental-toll-of-being-angry-all-the-time.