Health And Wellness

6 Subtle Triggers That Slowly Wreck Your Mental Health

Photo: Marjan Apostolovic / Shutterstock
sad man looking out window

Many of the subtle triggers that wreck mental health don't seem dangerous at first. By the time you realize you’re in a depressive episode, it’s too late to do anything.

Most items that will appear in this list I’ve discussed in previous posts, so I’m just going to touch on them here and link back to the original article.

6 Subtle Triggers That Slowly Wreck Your Mental Health

1. Social Media

As I explained in the dark side of social media, it’s very much a double-edged sword. It’s fantastic for catching up with news from your friends all over the city, country, and world. You can research tattoos, learn skills, join groups and read reviews.

However, it can also lead to you feeling anxious and depressed. Comparing your life to others and feeling it’s not as good and that you’re missing out. Please remember most people make social media their highlights reel, and no one ever has their lives as together as they make out.

RELATED: 7 Surprising Things That Make Your Depression Even Worse

If you find social media is making you feel bad, step away for a while. When you decide to return, do an audit and remove anyone or anything you’re following that makes you feel stressed, depressed, anxious, or jealous. Instead, look for people and groups that make you smile.

2. Lack Of Sleep

I recently stopped taking my new antidepressants. I explained why I was switching onto them, and I hoped they’d help. Sadly. Though, they had one major drawback…they affected my sleep very badly. I couldn’t fall asleep until 2 or 3 in the morning, and I woke up constantly.

It’s pretty damned hard to have a positive attitude and feel good about your life when you’re so tired you can barely keep your eyes open, and your body is aching.

You might cope for a few days or even a couple of weeks, but if you regularly don’t get enough sleep, you’re likely to find your mood dropping, and you may get more irritable.

Make sure you get a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night. Start to wind down at least an hour beforehand. Step away from social media, have a soothing bath, and maybe listen to some relaxing music. Try to create a nighttime routine that signals to your body and mind it’s time to rest.

3. Negative Self Talk

Not even our best friends, partner, or family, talks to us as much as we talk to ourselves. That’s why if we talk negatively, criticize ourselves and convince ourselves we can’t succeed, it can have a huge impact. We need to flip the script.

RELATED: 6 Awful Things You Should Never Say To Someone Who Is Depressed

It’s easier said than done to change the way we talk to ourselves, as we’ve likely been doing it a long time. It’s vital we learn to do it, though, to protect our mental health.

Affirmations can seem cheesy but try to remind yourself to be kind. Put up post its with things you like about yourself. Create a list and add to it daily of things you’re proud of. Try to catch yourself when you say negative things and correct yourself.

4. Staying Inside Too Much

This is twofold. Firstly, if you tend to stay inside a lot, there’s a good chance that you aren’t interacting much with other people. Following on from the last point, if you’re alone all the time, there’s no one to help counter your negative self-talk. Even if you don’t feel like it, mixing with friends and family is proven to help boost your mental health.

Secondly, a keep component of having energy and a generally good mood is sunshine which creates vitamin D. Sunshine makes most of us feel better just by being there. Vitamin D is a vitamin most of us in the UK don’t get enough of it.

Supplements can help with this, but they will give you a much bigger boost if you also get out in the sunshine and fresh air and enjoy nature for a while.

5. You Dwell On The Past

To quote one of my favorite films, Mermaids, “Death is dwelling on the past or staying in one place too long”.

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If you spend time looking into the past and wondering why your life isn’t that good now, or looking at past failures and convincing yourself that’s all you’ll get, then you’re going to feel down.

I’ve never been able to do mindfulness, but the thought is sound. Don’t be dwelling on the past or planning how things will be better in the future. Live in the now and focus on making each day as good as it can be. It will make a big difference to your mental health.

RELATED: How You Act When You're Feeling Depressed, According To Your Zodiac Sign

6. You Try To Keep Everyone Happy

This one is short. Other people’s happiness is not your responsibility. You can never make everyone happy all of the time, and your own happiness is likely to take a big hit if your try. That’s why it’s one of the very big yet very subtle triggers that wreck mental health.

Make peace with the fact that people will be unhappy sometimes and that that is ok. One of the things I loved about the Pixar movie Inside Out was Joy’s realization that Riley simply couldn’t be happy all the time. Sometimes she needed to be sad, and it was only Sadness who could take over of the controls and fix the problems Riley was going through.

Everyone needs to be sad sometimes, so just try to be there for them when they are. Don’t try to fix it. Prioritize your own happiness as much as possible so you can be there for others when they need you.

Claire McGregor is a writer focusing on body liberation and mental health. Follow her on Medium.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.