We all want to be healthy, but finding the time and the focus that we need to care for ourselves is difficult. We’d like to eat well and go for a job, but we’re so busy — and we run into those same sorts of problems when it comes to our mental health. It’s all too easy to put off thinking about the state of our mental health for another day: We have to finish that big project for work, rush through our commute, or simply navigate life in a stressful place like New York City.
But we need to resist the temptation to just keep pressing forward without taking stock of ourselves and our mental health. We need to hit the pause button and look at ourselves and our lifestyles to see whether we could be doing better at caring for our minds. Here are a few ways to tell if your lifestyle is hurting your mental health.
Give yourself a mental health checkup
Take a moment to consider your state of mind. Are you stressed? Anxious? Depressed? How do you feel when you wake up in the morning, and how do you feel when you go to bed at night? What is your state of mind at work, and how do you behave during the day?
You don’t have to estimate here. You can take a look at mental health quizzes online which can give you insight into your own status. If you’re showing signs of stress, strain, anxiety, sadness, and other rough emotions and emotional responses, it may be time to take a closer look at your lifestyle.
What’s causing the way that you are feeling?
Our lifestyles are built around habit. A huge portion of the “decisions” that we make each day aren’t really decisions at all, but rather reflexive and instinctive reactions. That’s why it’s so easy for unhealthy lifestyles to sneak up on us: One day, we just wake up and find everything wrong.
What might be wrong? Well, your diet, for one. Your mental and physical health are closely connected, and a poor diet (including poor nutrition, excessive calories and fat, and other bad stuff) can affect your mood and, over time, your mental health more generally. Similarly, your unhealthy lifestyle may include a lack of exercise. Exercise is great for your mental health, so try to reprogram your habits to make exercise a regular part of your routine.
What does your work-life balance look like? All work and no play doesn’t just make your life dull, but it can drive you to burnout which can make work seem overwhelming and difficult. It’s better for your mental health to maintain a certain distance between your work and your personal life, and to protect the latter from being overwhelmed by the former. Make time to partake in other activities, and protect your private spaces from take-home tasks and after-hours emails. Take vacations, too: They’ll make you more productive (and healthier).
Your home can be messing with your mind, too. From the interior spaces in your house (and your office) to the world around you, your environment matters. Big cities like New York, for instance, tend to have higher stress levels than other parts of the country.
This doesn’t mean that you have to move, say experts in NYC therapy. It just means that you should be proactive about your mental health and visit a mental health care professional. In fact, seeking professional help is the most important thing you can do to make your lifestyle more mental health-friendly. With the right professional in your corner, you can reclaim the happy and healthy life that you want and deserve.