Do low moods seem to descend out of the blue? And you tell yourself it’s just ‘one of those things’? Mild depression can actually be the result of consistent habits we convince ourselves are no big deal.
Habits that lead to low moods
What decisions are you mindlessly making that are leaving you low?
1. Always keeping busy.
Never keep up with all the things you have to do? The second you cross one thing off your list, do you add another?
Busy work can be the perfect way to avoid our feelings. But the longer we avoid them, the bigger they can grow.
We think we are avoiding sadness, but busy work just means it lasts longer. Stopping and letting ourselves feel the full weight of the emotions we are avoiding can actually mean we move past them into a better headspace.
2. Avoiding friends.
Aren’t feeling yourself, or have a lot of life stress? So you think it’s best to avoid your friends until things are better? And the more you avoid them, the more you just can’t be bothered keeping up the connection?
Avoiding social connections can actually be a warning sign of the onset of depression.
We can think that our depression makes us lonely, but a five-year study showed the reverse. It’s our loneliness that makes us depressed, and it worsens with every year of perceived self-isolation.
3. Giving up your hobbies.
Don’t have time, what with the new job? Or new relationship? Telling yourself you’ll get back to your beloved hobby another time, in the future?
It’s a well-intentioned but bad tactic.
Mental wellbeing requires consistent commitment to doing things that fill us up. If you are lucky enough to have a hobby that makes you feel good, that weekly hit of happiness might mean more than you realise to your bigger wellbeing picture, bringing you energy and equilibrium.
An Australian study looked at people whose hobby was either doing art or engaging in art done by others. They found that those who committed at least 100 hours or more a year to the arts scored at least two points higher on a 14 item wellbeing scale.
4. A nightly glass of wine.
photo by: Jozsef Hocza
Is it just one glass, sometimes two? Convinced you aren’t an alcoholic?
Alcohol is a depressant. And it disrupts sleep. Just one or two glasses a night can mean that over time, we start to experience exhaustion and low moods.
And depression and alcohol abuse disorder are so interlinked that a review of research studies on the subject found that the presence of one doubles your chance of having the other.
5. Using your computer before bed.
Just checking your emails before bed, that’s all? And then maybe a bit of Instagram. That turns into fifteen minutes of funny video watching?
Screen time really does have an impact on sleep. And low sleep has an impact on our moods. Being tired at work leads to bad decisions, and being tired around loved ones leads to snapping when we don’t mean to. And before we know it our life isn’t going so well.
6. Staying in your job.
Don’t hate your job, just find it boring? But tell yourself it pays the bills and you shouldn’t be so picky?
A British poll found the average UK worker spends 3,507 days of their life at work. It’s certainly a lot of time to do something you don’t really like.
Note if your time outside the job is spent with habits of distraction like drinking, staying out late, and casual dating. If you are in a cycle of work misery followed by distraction to compensate, it’s time to question if it’s time to break the cycle and seek careers counselling.
7. Making people happy.
Is making others happy is something you worry about? Are you known as a people pleaser? And do you make others happy often at your own expense?
It might be time to learn about codependency and boundary setting.
8. Keeping secrets.
Just one secret? And you think it’s better not to tell your partner, because you don’t want to stress them out?
The problem is that secret is stressing you out. Even if you don’t think about it often, if you in any way judge yourself for it, or feel guilty about it, then it’s taking up mental and emotional energy.
And if you know you are being dishonest with a partner, then deep down you won’t trust yourself. Which will affect your ability to trust them, and indirectly affect your relationship. Which can all make you more vulnerable to other stressors and to falling into low moods.
9. Not finding the time to exercise and eat well.
Life is too busy? Does having kids or a new business mean your physical health is simply not a priority?
Your body is the one thing you can count on to be there every step of your life (in fact it’s unescapable). And it’s now proven that physical health is directly related to mental wellbeing.
10. Thinking you don’t need help in life or for low moods.
Do everything yourself? See asking for help as a sign of weakness?
Ask any entrepreneur how they got ahead and in amongst the list will be delegating. Time and energy are not finite resources. Trying to be a superhero is exhausting.
And we all also at some point or another need emotional help. We need to ask a friend or family member to be there for us when we have experienced a loss or life change.
Or we need to gather up our courage and seek unbiased, professional help in the form of a counsellor or psychotherapist. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of courage and forward thinking and a way to avoid burnout.
Time to kick low moods to the curb? Our team of therapists in central London are some of the most highly rated in the UK. Or try our booking platform that connects you with registered therapists across the UK.
Have a question about low moods? Or want to share your own tip for staying mentally healthy? Use the comment box below.