12 Worst Mental Health Habits: Critical Upgrades For a Better Life

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In our busy lives, it’s super easy to fall into habits that mess with our mental health. We don’t even realize it most of the time. From being glued to our phones to not taking care of our bodies, these habits can really drag us down. But guess what? The good news is, it’s never too late to turn things around and start feeling better.

In this post, I’m going to share the 12 of the worst mental health habits we tend to have and share some simple, effective tips to change them. Let’s get started on making some positive changes together!

My Personal Story with the Effects of Bad Mental Health Habits

When I look back at my lowest points mentally, the one thing that always stood out was my chaotic daily habits. I had no real routine and was just going with the flow. I’d wake up and grab my phone first thing, and the same thing happened at night. I wanted to get a good night’s sleep, but I had no boundaries with my phone. Most nights, I’d stay up way too late, scrolling through all the negativity online. It made me feel out of control, anxious, and downright depressed.

I wasn’t paying attention to my diet or making time for exercise either. My life felt like it was falling apart, but I didn’t realize that changing my habits could make such a big difference. The turning point came when I understood that I couldn’t change everything overnight. Instead, I started breaking things down into tiny, manageable habit shifts.

Once I got honest about my lifestyle and what needed to change, I realized how much power I had over my mental health. It’s amazing what small, consistent changes can do for your well-being.

That experience taught me the importance of being mindful about our daily habits. In this post, I’ll dive into the worst habits that can seriously mess with our mental health. By identifying these common pitfalls and learning practical, easy-to-implement alternatives, you’ll gain the tools to start making positive changes today. Stick with me, and I’ll give you some tips on how to swap out those harmful habits for healthier ones, ultimately leading to a happier, more balanced life.

1. Sitting All Day

We’ve all heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking,” and for good reason. Sitting for long periods can lead to various health issues, including poor circulation, weight gain, and decreased mental well-being. Our bodies are designed to move, so it’s crucial to break up those long hours of sitting.

Shifting the Habit: Incorporate movement into your day by setting a timer to remind yourself to stand up and stretch every hour. Consider using a standing desk or taking short walking breaks. Simple activities like stretching, taking the stairs, or walking around the block can make a big difference. Your body and mind will thank you. I like to take three 10-minute walks per day after each meal. Not only does this boost productivity and creativity in my work during the day, but I’m getting a lot more movement in. Moving after meals can help boost metabolism too. When you walk after eating, it helps stimulate digestion and can increase your metabolic rate, which means your body burns more calories. This activity helps in regulating blood sugar levels, improves circulation, and can aid in overall digestion, making it a simple yet effective habit for better metabolic health. So, a brief walk after meals isn’t just good for your body and mind; it’s also a great way to enhance your metabolism.

2. Not Getting Enough Fresh Air and Sunlight

Spending too much time indoors can lead to a lack of exposure to natural light and fresh air, both of which are essential for our mental health. Sunlight boosts serotonin levels, which can improve mood and focus, while fresh air invigorates our senses and helps clear our minds. Additionally, getting sunlight on your eyes and skin early in the morning and late in the day helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which is crucial for good sleep patterns. This natural light exposure signals to your body when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to wind down, promoting better sleep quality and overall well-being.

Shifting the Habit: Make it a priority to spend time outside every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Take a walk during your lunch break, sit outside with your morning coffee, or spend time in your garden. In the mornings, try to get at least 10-15 minutes of sunlight exposure to help set your circadian rhythm for the day. In the evening, a short walk around sunset can help signal to your body that it’s time to start winding down. Open your windows to let in fresh air and natural light. These small changes can significantly impact your mood, mental clarity, and sleep quality.

3. Dehydration

Dehydration can have a significant impact on mood, energy levels, and cognitive function. While mainstream recommendations often emphasize the importance of drinking plenty of water throughout the day, following a pro-metabolic lifestyle involves a different approach to hydration. Having moved away from mainstream advice, I’ve learned that drinking excessive amounts of water, such as over 100 ounces a day, can be counterproductive to overall health. Instead, focusing on the quality of hydration and incorporating nutrient-rich beverages has been key to improving my well-being.

During the hot summer months, it’s especially important to consider drinks that balance electrolytes. Electrolytes play a crucial role in regulating hydration levels and maintaining proper bodily function. Coconut water or homemade electrolyte drinks, containing fresh citrus juice, honey, and a pinch of salt, can replenish lost electrolytes and keep you refreshed and hydrated in the heat. Or if you need something quick for on the go, I can’t recommend Drink LMNT enough. I especially love their new sparkling drinks. These beverages help replace electrolytes lost through sweat.

Shifting the Habit: Rather than solely relying on water, consider carrying a variety of hydrating beverages with you throughout the day. Infusing water with fruits or herbs can make it more enjoyable and flavorful. While it’s still essential to stay hydrated, aim for a balanced intake of fluids that includes options like orange juice, coffee, high quality dairy, and electrolyte-balancing drinks. Remember, your brain relies on hydration to function optimally, so find a balance that works for you and keeps those water levels up!

If you’re curious about what the heck a pro-metabolic lifestyle is, go here and learn from one of the best, my trainer and friend, Tyler Woodward.

4. Grabbing Your Phone First Thing in the Morning

Reaching for your phone as soon as you wake up can have significant effects on your mental health, productivity, and overall well-being. Starting your day by immediately diving into the digital world can set a stressful tone for the entire day ahead. Scrolling through social media, checking emails, and reading the news in the morning can overload your mind with information, causing anxiety, overwhelm, and a constant sense of being connected to the outside world.

Research has shown that excessive smartphone use, particularly in the morning, can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm and negatively impact your sleep quality. Screens emit blue light, which suppresses melatonin production and disrupts sleep-wake cycles, resulting in poorer sleep. This lack of quality sleep can further exacerbate feelings of fatigue, irritability, and decreased cognitive function throughout the day.

Plus, constantly checking your phone for notifications and updates can create a cycle of distraction and procrastination, making it harder to focus on important tasks and goals. The constant influx of information and stimuli can overwhelm your brain, leading to decreased productivity, increased stress levels, and a decreased sense of satisfaction with your daily accomplishments.

Shifting the Habit: To break free from the habit of grabbing your phone first thing in the morning, consider creating a morning routine that doesn’t involve digital devices. Spend the first few minutes of your day engaging in activities that promote relaxation, mindfulness, and self-care. This could include stretching, practicing gratitude, journaling, or simply enjoying a quiet cup of coffee or tea. Use an old-fashioned alarm clock instead of your phone to wake up, and resist the urge to check your phone until after you’ve taken some time for yourself. Starting your day with calmness, intention, and mindfulness can set a positive tone for the rest of the day, promoting greater mental clarity, productivity, and overall well-being. If you feel overwhelm when it comes to figuruing out a new, healthy morning routine in a way that feels easy, then check out this journal from Habit Nest. It’s a gentle process to help you figure out a routine that works for you.

5. Not Regularly Moving Your Body/Exercising

Regular physical activity is essential for both physical and mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce stress. On the other hand, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to feelings of lethargy and depression. I’ll be saying a lot more about this topic in future posts. It’s everything when it comes to mental health and overall health. Incorporating it into my daily life wasn’t easy at first, but it saved my life in many ways.

Shifting the Habit: Find an exercise routine that you enjoy and can stick to. It doesn’t have to be intense—activities like walking, yoga, dancing, or swimming can all be beneficial. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Make it social by joining a class or inviting a friend to join you. The key is to start small, find something you love, so it doesn’t feel like a chore.

tropical river location with boats and colorful umbrellas with quote text that reads "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new." - Socrates manifesteveryday.com

6. Junk Food/Energy Drinks/Alcohol

What we consume can significantly impact our mental health. Junk food, energy drinks, and alcohol can lead to mood swings, fatigue, and poor cognitive function, and sleep. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help support good mental health.

Shifting the Habit: Focus on incorporating more nutritious foods into your diet. Plan your meals and snacks to include a variety of healthy options. Limit your intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol. Instead, reach for water, herbal teas, and fresh, whole foods. Treat yourself to healthy, delicious recipes and savor the flavors of nourishing meals.

7. Inconsistent Sleep Schedule

A lack of routine in your sleep schedule can disrupt your body’s natural rhythms, leading to poor sleep quality and a host of mental health issues. Consistent, quality sleep is vital for emotional regulation, cognitive function, and overall well-being.

Shifting the Habit: Establish a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Create a relaxing bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. Limit screen time before bed and create a comfortable sleep environment. I made the rule to not be on my phone an hour prior to bed and my phone is no longer allowed in my bedroom. The temptation is just too great and I’m sleeping so much better not having it close to me. Prioritizing sleep can lead to improved mood, energy levels, and mental clarity. And if you want to design a sleep routine and go through a gentle process to find what works for you, try this journal.

8. Living in a Mess

A cluttered, disorganized living space can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety. Our environment has a significant impact on our mental state, so maintaining a tidy, organized home can help promote a sense of calm and well-being. I always say that a messy house equals an overwhelmed, confused mind.

Shifting the Habit: Set aside time each day to tidy up and declutter your space. Focus on one area at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Incorporate organization into your daily routine by putting things away immediately after use. Consider adopting a minimalist approach to reduce clutter and create a more serene environment. A clean, organized space can help clear your mind and improve your mood. And if you need help getting started and not feeling overwhelmed, Habit Nest has an awesome journal for that too!

9. Too Much Screen Time/Addiction to Electronics

I know we’ve already hit on this topic in this post, but it’s that important. In my business, I speak to so many people who struggle with focus, low mood, and just feeling generally anxious. My first question is always, how much are you on your phone? Spending too much time on electronic devices can lead to digital overload, eye strain, and disrupted sleep patterns. It can also contribute to feelings of isolation and anxiety, especially when consumed by social media and news.

Shifting the Habit: Set boundaries for your screen time by scheduling regular breaks and limiting non-essential use. Designate screen-free times, such as during meals or an hour before bed. Engage in offline activities that bring you joy, like reading, crafting, or spending time outdoors. Being mindful of your screen time can help improve your mental health and overall well-being. Here’s another great journal that can help you shift to new healthier habits and get your screen time under control once and for all.

10. Complaining/Gossiping

Constantly complaining or engaging in gossip can have significant negative effects on both your mental health and your relationships. When you focus on the negatives and engage in a cycle of complaining, it perpetuates a mindset of dissatisfaction and negativity, which can ultimately impact your overall well-being. Additionally, gossiping about others not only damages their reputation but also reflects poorly on your character and integrity. Remember, if someone is willing to gossip with you, they’re likely to gossip about you as well.

Shifting the Habit: Instead of getting caught up in complaining or gossiping, practice gratitude by focusing on the positives in your life. Keeping a gratitude journal can be a powerful tool for shifting your perspective and cultivating a mindset of appreciation. Take a few moments each day to write down things you’re thankful for, whether it’s a beautiful sunset, a kind gesture from a friend, or a small achievement at work. When you catch yourself slipping into a complaint or gossip, pause and try to reframe your thoughts. Rather than dwelling on the negative, challenge yourself to find something positive to focus on. Surround yourself with positive influences and seek out activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, helping to cultivate a more positive and uplifting environment in your life.

11. Not Having Any Hobbies

Engaging in hobbies and activities you enjoy is essential for maintaining good mental health. Without hobbies, you may find yourself feeling bored, unfulfilled, and disconnected.

Shifting the Habit: Explore different hobbies and find something that excites you. It could be anything from painting and gardening to cooking and playing a musical instrument. Make time for your hobbies regularly and consider joining a group or class to meet like-minded people. Having hobbies can provide a sense of purpose and joy, boosting your mental well-being. My favorite hobby is hiking and backpacking. It’s done so many good things for my mental health. Check out my hiking website, TransformationHiking.com to learn more.

12. Not Following a Routine

A lack of routine can lead to feelings of chaos and unpredictability, which can be stressful and overwhelming. Establishing a daily routine can provide structure and a sense of control, helping to reduce anxiety and improve overall mental health.

Shifting the Habit: Create a daily routine that includes time for self-care, work, physical activity, and relaxation. Write down your schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Be flexible and adjust as needed, but maintain a general structure to your day. Having a routine can help you feel more organized and in control, leading to improved mental health and well-being.

A scene in Bosa Italy with colorful houses, river and boats with quote text that reads "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." - C.S. Lewis manifesteveryday.com

Quick Tips for Shifting Habits

Shifting habits doesn’t have to feel like torture—in fact, it can be downright empowering! Here are some actionable tips to help you upgrade your mental health habits and make lasting changes:

  1. Start Small: Break your goals down into manageable steps and celebrate your progress along the way.
  2. Find Accountability: Share your goals with positive people in your life who can offer support and encouragement.
  3. Practice Self-Compassion: Be gentle with yourself and remember that change takes time.
  4. Stay Consistent: Make your new habits a priority and incorporate them into your daily routine.
  5. Reward Yourself: Celebrate your successes and treat yourself to something special as a reward for your hard work.

Even More Reading on This Topic:

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What’s the main benefit of changing these mental health habits?

By changing these mental health habits, you can significantly improve your overall well-being and quality of life. Incorporating healthier habits can lead to increased energy levels, improved mood, better sleep quality, and enhanced cognitive function. You’ll feel more balanced, focused, and resilient, better equipped to navigate life’s challenges with confidence and positivity.

2. How can I make these habit shifts feel less overwhelming?

Making habit shifts can feel daunting, but breaking them down into smaller, manageable steps can make the process much more achievable. Start by focusing on ONE habit at a time, gradually incorporating healthier alternatives into your daily routine. Do one habit until it feels easy and you don't even have to think about it before adding new habits. Celebrate your progress along the way, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you experience setbacks. Remember that change takes time, and each small step forward is a victory worth celebrating.

3. What if I struggle to stick to these new habits?

Sticking to new habits can be challenging, but finding accountability and support can make a world of difference. Share your goals with supportive friends or family members who can cheer you on and hold you accountable. Consider joining a community or finding a mentor who can offer guidance and encouragement along the way. And most importantly, be kind to yourself. If you slip up, don’t let it derail your progress. Instead, acknowledge the setback, learn from it, and recommit to your goals with renewed determination. With patience, perseverance, and a positive mindset, you can successfully make lasting changes to your mental health habits and create a happier, healthier life.

Final Thoughts:

By recognizing and addressing harmful mental health habits, you can make critical upgrades for a better, more fulfilling life. Remember, it’s never too late to start making positive changes, and every small step counts towards improving your mental well-being. Take care of yourself and prioritize your mental health—you deserve it!

Now Over to You: Which of these habits do you find the most challenging to change? Comment below and let’s support each other on our journey to better mental health. I’d love to hear from you!

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12 Worst Mental Health Habits: Critical Upgrades For a Better Life
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