I see a few major habits in my clients that hurt their mental health more than help them.
Spending too much time on social media: Social media not only seems to suck up time faster than you notice but it also is built to so that people compare themselves to others. These comparisons are rarely favorable and people walk away with not feeling positive about themselves. As one adolescent girl told me, “No one ever posts pictures of their face mid-menstrual break-out or of their bombed test grade.” People feel pressured to keep up with friends, stay in touch and maintain an image that they’ve created. This creates more stress in their lives which interrupts their ability to reflect on themselves, what they think and create a sturdy sense of self.
Eating fast food on the run instead of preparing healthy meals and sitting down to eat them: We are so much of what we eat and we eat non-nutrutious food quickly, we’re not providing our brains or bodies with the appropriate fuel needed to think and function well. Sharing a meal is not only good for our physiology but it also provides an opportunity to connect with people face-to-face and talk about our lives. During a sit down meal, our bodies slow down and properly digest our food so we can absorbe the nutrients and simultaneously take a much-needed break from the chaos of our lives.
Having arguments via texting or emailing: You can’t take an emotional weather report via electronic communication. If you say something difficult or sensitive this way, there’s no way for you see how your words affected the other person or perceive whatever feelings are brewing inside them. It’s easier to disengage and avoid accountability for your words and actions. People need to learn and practice interactional skills not only for healthy personal relationships but also for work and life situations where they have to deal with others.