Most of us know what to do to help keep our bodies healthy. We’re aware that lifestyle choices impact on our physical health and things like smoking or over-indulging in alcohol aren’t going to do us any favours. Likewise, it’s drilled into us that junk food should be consumed in moderation and we need to keep active or we’ll soon find our clothes don’t quite fit anymore and it’s a slippery slope to elasticated waistbands…
That doesn’t mean we live by this – the world is not dominated by health-conscious people doing everything they can to live their best, healthy selves. We’re human – even when we know what’s ‘good’ for us and have the best of intentions, we choose something else. Let’s face it, sometimes binge eating Maltesers whilst watching a marathon of Netflix is ok. Isn’t it?
Lifestyle choices also impact our mental health and many of us can probably think of certain things we do, or people we have in our life that boost or bring us down. I know I can.
Sometimes it’s not clear cut – the same things and the same people can both positively and negatively impact on our well-being, depending on who we are and how we’re interacting with them. This can make it harder to create lasting positive changes. Some common practices that could fall under this category are below. Do you have any others to add?
Scrolling on our phones and flicking through social media is instant and entertaining. At its best, we’re connecting with people and keeping in touch; at its worst it’s mindless distraction and brings out FOMO and social anxiety.
Watching movies and TV series which are thrillers, horrors – full of suspense and gore. Some people love this genre and get a kick out it. Not me. All I get is nervous and edgy, checking and double checking the door (and every other possible entry point) is locked…
The News. Personally, I’m really interested in keeping up to date with world events. On the flip side, I have friends who find the news depressing. Stories about human suffering or the endless coverage of issues like Brexit either upset or make them angry.
Gossip – there’s something exciting about someone else’s scandal. But, effectively, we’re getting enjoyment out of something that is probably upsetting or embarrassing another person. If you listen to and pass it on – remember that – also, next time it might be about you!
Moaning. This is a tough one. Moaning isn’t particularly positive or productive – however, it can feel great. Venting to a friend about that person/situation that really got under our skin is therapeutic. To turn your moan into something productive – find a solution to the issue and act on it.
Negative self-talk – we all have this to some extent. That inner voice that puts you down by telling you you’re not good/popular/talented enough. The greatest critic of all. In some cases, a dose of realism is healthy, but it’s much better to balance this with a focus on your personal strengths and what you do well.
Cut it or keep it?
Obviously, we can’t (and perhaps wouldn’t want to) cut out all these things altogether – some we enjoy and get something positive from. We’re all different. But it’s good to be more conscious of what we’re actively choosing to put into our mind, just like we do with our mouth.
Everything in moderation. Just be aware of the things that influence your frame of mind and view of both yourself and others. Change your actions/what you’re letting in if it impacts on your (or someone else’s) self-esteem or well-being and aim for a healthy mental diet.
Thanks for reading!