The Impact Certain Bad Habits Have on Your Emotional Health
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach | Life Strategies Coaching
Good habits can help us thrive and live our lives with greater ease and comfort. On the other hand, bad habits can take away from our ability to live our best lives.
The thing about habits is that we are often unaware of them because they have been formed over a long period of time. They become so much a part of our lives that we don't question them, much less think about their impact on our happiness.
The truth is that habits help us adapt to day-to-day life. They can make us feel good, even safe. But they can also make us feel bad about ourselves and our lives.
The thing is that habits are not created equally. There are good habits. And there are bad habits. Good habits develop us, lift us. They nurture us, strengthen us, and keep us healthy and happy. Bad habits, on the other hand, gradually work against us. The bottom line is that bad habits don’t move us forward or work for our betterment.
Bad physical habits include drinking too much alcohol, living a sedentary lifestyle, or engaging in unhealthy eating habits.
But not all habits are physical.
Habits can also be psychological in nature. They are not necessarily visible. I am speaking of mental and emotional habits.
Bad mental and emotional habits have the ability to damage and potentially even ruin our lives. We need to be aware of these habits and firmly resolve to replace them with better ones.
It’s time to watch out for these particular bad habits that can harm your emotional and mental health. The ones I am about to point out are just a few:
Negative self-talk can all too easily become a habit. Furthermore, its continued practice can cripple you emotionally. It will most certainly lessen your ability to enjoy your life by casting a shadow of darkness on everything you see.
Whenever you fail at something, the habit of engaging in negative self-talk can kick in automatically. It is sad but true that no one else would say to you what you say to yourself. We have the ability to be really cruel to ourselves in our self-talk.
Negativity also attracts more negativity.
Likewise, it repels positivity. The more negative you are in your self-talk, the more proof you will see how the world is dangerous. This kind of negative self-talk can stunt your ability to enjoy your life.
Negative self-talk is powerful. Unfortunately, it is also unhealthy, unhelpful, and very limiting. Do not allow useless negative thoughts to pervade your mind for more than a passing moment. Remember that there is always greater power in positivity than negativity.
Overthinking causes excessive worry and a lot of unnecessary anxiety. Overthinking can lead to more problems than solutions. Often, overthinking creates fear that leads to sleeplessness. It's hard to rest when you imagine worst-case scenarios at every turn.
Instead, rest your mind and go to sleep. Helpful ways to overcome overthinking include meditation and prayer. Exercise such as yoga or tai chi can also help. Writing in a journal, creating art, or talking to a confidant can also bring comfort.
Coping through Substance Use and Abuse
A lot of people deal with their challenges through substance use and abuse. It can be a form of distraction. But harmful substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and drugs only momentarily ease the problem.
They have the potential to create more significant challenges in the future.
Smoking is a habit that may help deal with the feelings of immediate pressure and stress. But the addictive substance in nicotine will keep you addicted and hooked indefinitely. I know this from first-hand knowledge. I was a smoker for fifteen years, and quitting was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
Similarly, alcohol and drugs can be very addictive. Their use can alter and affect the physiological functioning of the brain. While using these substances may provide temporary relief from stress, it is not a constructive solution. Substance abuse can exacerbate problems. And they can create more significant future challenges involving your emotional and psychological health.
Lack of Exercise
A lack of exercise can harm your physical health. The body is connected to the mind. As a result, the lack of exercise can affect you mentally, emotionally, and psychologically, too.
Have you ever noticed how exercise puts you in a better mood?
That is because the endorphins and serotonin hormones that are released by movement lift your spirit.
Physical activity is not only life-changing, but it can also lift your mood instantly.
Lack of exercise is not just a bad habit that affects physical health. It can dramatically impact the brain, impacting your emotional and psychological wellbeing, too.
It has been said in varying forms that "Hanging onto resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die of poisoning." The harm of holding onto grudges and resentment is done to oneself, not to the person you perceive to have harmed you.
Like all negative emotions, resentment is heavy. Harboring a grudge can also harm your emotional health. Let everything that’s beyond your power and control go. Live in the present. Learn to forgive and let go! The weight of these negative emotions will never serve you or your well-being.
These are just a few of the bad habits that we often engage in that has a negative effect on our emotional health and well-being. There are others. I encourage you to think about the habits you may indulge in that keep you from feeling happy and free.
You only have this one life to live.
If 2020 has taught us nothing else, it has shown us all that we don't have any guarantee as to how long we have to live it. So, why would you choose to live one day of it feeling miserable when your feelings result from your choice of thoughts?
Take stock of your current habits. Really be honest with yourself about your daily practices that may have become habits. Discard those that no longer serve you. Embrace or develop new habits that will lead to a happier, more carefree life.
It's your choice. So, why not choose good habits over bad ones and engage in positive activities that can enhance your life experience now and into the future?
Until next time.