5 Daily Habits That Are Actually Hurting Your Mental Health

two men and a woman staring at phones while waiting on a train platform

If you’re anything like me, you have a routine set in place from the moment you wake up.

Open eyes.

Check the dog…yep, still breathing.

Roll over and check on my boyfriend — yup, he’s still breathing, too.

From there, I immediately grab my phone and open each social media app to see what breaking news I’ve missed over the last, oh, six hours, and then begin my day.

Some of my routines, the morning workout, might be beneficial, but the more I work on my mental health, the more I realize that some of my daily habits could potentially be harming my well-being. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit and former business writer for the New York Times, writes that “Routines are the organizational analogue of habits,” and that starting new habits can be as difficult as breaking bad ones — but that harnessing the power of routine can have powerful effects on both productivity and our mental state.

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How Does Acquiring a New Disability Affect Mental Health?

Man on crutches

“I don’t have the life I expected to have,” says Shayla Maas, a disabled woman who was an adolescent psychiatric nurse before her Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome progressed to a point that made it difficult to work. When a series of injuries then left her transitioning to light duty and eventually forced her out of the workplace, it was a total sea change.

According to the U.S. Census, nearly 20 percent of Americans are disabled. Some have congenital disabilities they’ve lived with their whole lives. Others have faced traumatic accidents, diagnoses of chronic conditions, and other life changes — sometimes at the height of a busy career, or while pursuing dreams with tremendous physical demands. A newly-acquired disability — or the diagnosis of a previously unidentified chronic condition — represents a tremendous life change, one that can be very isolating.

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Checking in on Your Mental Health Resolutions

compass facing a lake at sunset

We are several weeks into 2018 and this is as good as time as any to check in with yourself about your mental health goals. It can be difficult to begin and maintain progress through your goals, especially this time of year, as we all try to regain our footing with our day-to-day schedules and responsibilities.

That’s why it’s incredibly important to take some time to reflect and re-group to see where you are with your mental health resolutions. Taking time to assess your progress is an invaluable part of the goal-setting process. Moving forward takes routine, evaluation, and consistent checking in.

So, how are you doing with your goals? Here are a few questions that you may want to begin by asking yourself.

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How Psychology Stigmatized Female Orgasm (and How We Got It Back)

woman's hands on bedsheets

For most of us, orgasms are, simply, awesome. Yet from the origins of modern psychology in the late nineteenth century, a combination of cultural stereotypes, pseudoscience, and plain old misogyny created an enduring notion that women’s orgasms were a problem to be solved, rather than a normal part of sexual pleasure and mental wellbeing.

From the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, many psychologists, inspired by Freudian psychoanalysis, argued that women should only achieve orgasm through vaginal penetration by a man. Any other kind of female sexual pleasure — including masturbation, queer sexuality, and any stimulation of the clitoris — was considered a sign of “masculinity,” imbalance, or even insanity.

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How Staying in a Job You Hate Affects Your Mental Health

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When it comes to your career, there is nothing worse than a job you hate, literally.

According to a University of Manchester study, having a “poor quality” job — a job you hate — is actually worse for your mental health than having no job at all. It may sound hard to believe until you’ve been there — hostile co-workers, a passive-aggressive boss, or mind-numbing assignments. Not to mention we often spend 40 or more hours a week invested in our job, and that’s a lot of time to spend in a bad situation.

For the 51% of Americans employed full-time who reported to Gallup in 2017 that they’re uninterested in their jobs and the 16% who dislike their workplace, staying at a job you hate is bad news for your mental health. Here’s why.

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How to Address Your Mental Health During Hiring Season

young woman nervous during job interview

Networking and business cards. Cover letters and resumes. Applications and interviews. It all adds up to the same thing — job hunting.

If any of these concepts, say networking or interviewing, make your hair stand on end, you’re in good company. According to a 2013 study, 92 percent of Americans fear at least one part of the job interview process, whether that’s having the jitters, showing up late for the interview, or not knowing how to answer difficult questions. This doesn’t even cover the nail-biting anxiety of waiting for a return email or phone call after you’ve sent off yet another application or completed an interview.

Combine the normal job search stress with a mental health issue, and the task may seem impossible.

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Therapy for All

smiling young asian woman in hat using text therapy

Therapy for all isn’t simply a slogan. It isn’t just a philosophy. Therapy for all is an imperative. Mental illness is a global health problem and, in the United States specifically, 1 in 5 adults suffers from mental illness in a given year. Look around you: I’d hazard a guess that one person in your direct vicinity has dealt with a mental health challenge in the past year.

In fact, a recent study by psychology researchers Aaron Reuben and Jonathan Schaefer has shown that we are more likely to experience a bout of mental illness than we are to develop diabetes, heart disease, or any kind of cancer. And yet it’s far more common (and, yes, culturally acceptable) to fear eating too much sugar and fat than it is to consider the possibility of seeking out mental health care.

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Winter Warmup: A Mental Health Playlist

winter playlist sweater coffee mittens

Listening to music can improve our mental health and reduce anxiety, according to a meta analysis of hundreds of studies. We also use songs to reflect on changes in our lives, the world, and even the seasons.

The holidays are over, we’re back to work, and winter is here. It can be a challenging season for our mental health — it’s not as easy to exercise, which is vital to our overall well being, and many of us deal with some form of seasonal affective disorder. To give you something to play and boost your mood as you settle into the season, we compiled this “Winter Warmup” playlist. Enjoy!

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Why Is Suicide Increasing in Black Children?

young black girl sad

In July 2015, published research by JAMA Pediatrics indicated the suicide rate among elementary school children (under 12 years of age) had stabilized over two decades. What they were surprised to find was that Black children were at an increased incidence of suicide whereas their White counterparts demonstrated a significant decrease in suicide incidence. While White children’s rates of suicide has stabilized, those of Black children had increased.

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