The prevalence of mental disorders has increased significantly over the past decades, so the reasons that could explain this epidemiological rise are the subject of numerous investigations.
Depression and anxiety disorders, in particular, are on the rise. In fact, a high percentage of people who see their GP suffer from one of these psychopathologies.
This is why it is important to learn strategies to reduce the likelihood of suffering from mental health problems. In this article you will find various habits to prevent psychological disorders, Simple and accessible to all.
Ten Habits to Prevent Mental Disorders
The ten habits for preventing mental disorders that we present below are based on current scientific knowledge. Sometimes they refer to organic bases (such as exercise and / or sleep), while in other cases they affect the cognitive or behavioral correlates associated with both the onset and maintenance of these problems. emotional health.
1. Be compassionate with yourself and recognize your imperfections.
It is dramatically common that, in judging ourselves, we adopt a position of enormous rigidity and self-criticism. This way, we tend to impose on our lives a whole series of obligations that do not, Take the unnecessary risk of feeling miserable and frustrated. Many times in these moments of emotional pain, we can utter such cruel words that we would not even dedicate them to the worst of our enemies.
And it’s all part of forcing ourselves to live within the narrow margins of unattainable perfection, trying to meet impossible expectations that gradually erode emotional resources and condemn us to psychological distress. It is therefore essential to adopt a global attitude that recognizes the option of making mistakes quite naturally, without giving in to catastrophic thoughts when they may arise – (“if I don’t do this perfectly, I’m worth nothing”, for example. ).
2. Cultivate your hobbies
Letting go of moments of enjoyment is common among those who dive down the dark path of depression. While sadness is a necessary and useful emotion, it can sometimes precipitate the summative loss of activities that in the past brought happiness, so that the quality of our daily life is impoverished and we enter a prison whose bars are forged out of monotony.
The emotional inertia we experience when we find ourselves in such a state does not make things easier, so we must be aware that our first attempts to overcome them will seem like impositions contrary to what our body asks of us.. As if they don’t arise naturally or oppose an imperative that is beyond our control. And it is that every great change in life involves a process of prior adaptation, which involves effort and perseverance, even when we know that it will bring us positive things.
3. Maintain healthy relationships with others
Social support is seen as one of the keys to intervening between stress and its impact on psychological health, Especially when it’s emotional (having people to talk to about our inner concerns or having someone to give us affection), well beyond what only covers our material and immediate needs (providing us with financial resources). The feeling of being loved and cherished has, in itself, therapeutic properties.
However, it is essential to keep in mind that social support is not measured by the number of people we have around us, but by the quality of the bonds that bind us to them. Thanking, apologizing and being open to others is also important; for a wonderful network of human beings may not be of real help to us if we do not have the skills to communicate properly with it. Simply put, social support requires a proactive and open attitude to give and take.
4. Do new things every day
Inertia and routine are two things that erode our ability to be happy. In fact, they shorten lifespan in a way: It has been shown that those who live without adding variety to their daily life end up perceiving their existence as shorter than it actually was, as the brain avoids repetitive moments considering them of little personal relevance. For them, living with emotion is fundamental.
Dare from time to time to break with your most well-established habits: Travel through unusual streets, change your hairstyle, dress differently, or take on learning experiences that will make you curious. In any case, make your daily life a space where surprise and the unexpected can arise, without this implying living an erratic and uncontrolled life. This fragile balance, as necessary as it is elusive, is forged with practice.
5. Get regular physical exercise
Exercise has been shown to be healthy not only for the body but also for the mind. Daily activity activates the body at times when it can fall into a sedentary lifestyle that often coexists with depression or anxiety, generating a series of endocrine changes that manifest in the form of emotional health benefits and in improving our self-image.
Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins at the central level, which reduces the feeling of physical and emotional pain and gives us pleasurable sensations. Studies on this issue show that people who participate in aerobic sports regularly have reduced levels of depression and feel much less stressed, regardless of the objective demands of their job or the rest of their daily responsibilities.
6. Be sincere with your emotions
Efforts to hide emotions, or the refusal to fully feel them, are associated with an exacerbation of their intensity. and greater difficulty in regulating them. There is plenty of evidence that the occupations that generate the most severe psychological distress are those that require us to act in a different way than what we experience within ourselves (keeping a smile on your face despite a bad day, for example). example).
The first step is to interpret the emotions we may feel as useful tools for understanding the world around us, others and ourselves; embracing it as an indivisible part of the experience. In doing so, we will be able to approach them in a much safer way, keeping the distance necessary to distinguish their nuances and listen to what they are trying to communicate. Escaping what we feel is like trying to escape from a room with no doors or windows, but even more painful.
7. Look for a goal
Viktor Frankl said that any circumstance in life, no matter how difficult, would be bearable by giving it personal meaning. He added that aimlessness was responsible for generating deep discomfort (or noogenic depression), which would be seen as a painful void in the fabric of existence. For all this, its logotherapy continued so that individuals discover their fundamental objective, their life project or their ultimate purpose.
Find a purpose, something worth experiencing, reinforces the motivation to continue our efforts in situations of failure or frustration.
8. Surround yourself with nature
Human beings generally feel happy when they mix with nature. However, this effect is not appreciated by just being close to animals or plants, but it requires the ability to feel integrated as one more part of the environment. Today, it is known that children who grow up in places that stimulate this connection, developing a sense of brotherly union with the rest of the living beings that inhabit the earth, improve their ability to feel empathy for others.
Walks in undeveloped areas are pleasant for most people. If we do this by taking advantage of sunlight, we will improve the central (pineal gland) production of melatonin at night, a hormone linked to positive effects and more restful sleep (as it helps regulate circadian rhythms).
9. Get regular sleep
Sleep is one of the most rapidly compromised physiological functions in people with psychological problems. Insomnia is a common part of depressive and anxiety symptoms, So that they can be present in both cases. Thus, it is known that poor sleep increases the risk of mental health problems, while these also affect the quality of sleep, leading to a cycle that can be difficult to break out of.
Good sleep is important, and for that we need to adopt a set of healthy habits: avoiding exercise three hours before going to bed, looking for a dark and calm environment, taking short naps (45 minutes maximum ), eat in moderation, wear comfortable clothes, refuse alcohol or coffee in the last hours of the day, seek a pleasant temperature, set regular bedtime or waking times, and use the bedroom just for sleeping and sleeping. ‘love.
10. Learn to make decisions and be assertive
One of the reasons that people often experience discomfort in their lives is because of their difficulty in making decisions or using proactive strategies when faced with intractable problems. Identify the problem, define it in operational terms, extract plausible alternatives, assess the quality of the options available to us and act consistently; they are a basic process for successfully dealing with difficult situations. There are specific programs for this, like the decision training of Nezu and D’Zurilla.
On the other hand, learning to communicate assertively is also a habit that can protect us from the development of emotional problems, especially those that arise from interpersonal conflicts. Through assertiveness, we express what we need while safeguarding the rights of others, without incurring overly hostile or passive behavior. Assertiveness is therefore a search for balance in the relationships we have with others.
- Layard, R. (2005). Happiness: the lessons of a new science. Afers Foreingn, 86 (6), 26-27.
- Shang, E. (2019). Keys to Happiness: Associations Between Personal Values on Fundamental Areas of Life and Happiness in South Korea PLoS One, 14 (1), e0209821.