Bad habits aren’t just excusable quirks.
If action isn’t taken, they can get out of hand, negatively affecting day-to-day life.
And we often get so caught up, that we only realize it when the damage has already been done.
But with a bit of mindfulness, you can change things.
Once you do make the shift, expect your mental health to improve exponentially–something that will open a ton of doors for you in the process.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the hidden (yet not-so-subtle) habits that are draining your mental energy.
When you start identifying these habits, you’ll be in a prime position to correct them.
Let’s get to it!
1) Non-stop scrolling
I think given the state of things, we’re all a bit susceptible to social media addiction.
Mindlessly scrolling through TikTok or Twitter (or are we calling it ‘X’ now?) is bound to make one feel unproductive, jealous, annoyed, disenchanted, or all of the above.
The amount of vapid, borderline dystopian content being uploaded on a daily basis is staggering.
Sure, social media is fine in moderation–but it’s so easy to be sucked in and get caught up in all the fake news, the unintelligible, choreographed Tiktok interviews, everyone anonymously cursing each other in the comment section, the showing off and clout chasing, among many, many other things.
Just the other morning, I found myself thoughtlessly scrolling through Instagram reels for at least an hour and a half.
When I realized it and put my phone down, I felt numb–almost as if I was in a catatonic state.
I also felt bad that I had wasted the morning so hypnotized by uninspiring reels and photos rather than using that time to be productive.
Not an ideal start to the day.
Social media is a top-tier distraction, and if you’re prone to procrastination it can exacerbate your issues a thousandfold.
I’ve since taken concrete steps to moderate my screen time.
2) Serial procrastinating
Since we’re on the topic, procrastination is another habit that needs to swiftly be tossed in the bin.
Sometimes, laziness can gnaw away at you until it completely overwhelms your being.
Whether consciously or not, this takes a toll on your mental energy.
Believe me, the guilt and stress of putting off a task is a real thing.
As I did, you’ll likely feel regret for not doing something you needed to and letting a key opportunity pass you by–or worse, you let others down by giving in to procrastination.
You alone are capable of fixing things.
So start getting in gear, put the phone or remote control down, and get to work.
Once you get into the swing of things, you’ll realize how genuinely liberating that feeling is.
Take it from gazillionaire Jeff Bezos: “Procrastination is the mother of stress, and by ensuring that you don’t procrastinate on the things that you can address in your life, you can remove stress easily.”
3) Being disorganized
Here’s the thing: A chaotic and disorganized environment tends to make your headspace feel cluttered.
This is something I can personally attest to–when my apartment, workplace, or even my car is cluttered, I feel my stress, irritation, and overall tension levels shoot up.
No, this isn’t me just being an obsessive neat freak.
It’s science, a tidy space means clarity and improved mental health.
So if you want to maximize daily productivity and minimize existing anxieties, I would suggest starting to clean up your surroundings.
The great thing is you don’t need to be wealthy or highly skilled to accomplish a sense of order.
With just a bit of will, anyone is capable of clearing up a cluttered space.
The difference will be night and day.
So take this as a cue to get off your butt and start walking towards the broom closet.
4) Not setting (digital) boundaries
Even if you do enjoy the hustle, your work shouldn’t define you as an individual.
Whether we admit it or not, work equates to stress.
There’s a time and place for stress and, in ideal circumstances, it shouldn’t be after work hours.
The stimulation from work tasks can keep your brain in a perpetually heightened state, which unchecked, often leads to burnout.
So give yourself a daily limit–set boundaries by turning off notifications for emails, apps, texts, etc.; or simply make it clear to colleagues that after work hours, you for the most part won’t be reachable (unless it’s urgent.)
This, in turn, makes room for priceless activities like relaxation, “me time”, and self-care rituals.
Unless you’re superhuman, attempting to effectively juggle many tasks at the same time is an exercise rooted in idealism and naivete.
What’s worse is, despite whatever vigor and motivation you may hold, multitasking often means most of your tasks won’t be accomplished as competently as they would have, say, if they were each the sole focus.
In other words, the job might end up being a little half-assed–which can cause further avoidable stress and mental exhaustion.
I used to work multiple freelance jobs, all the while having a pretty turbulent personal life.
In the beginning, I truly felt I could take on all these things at a high level.
Although I saw things as an achievable challenge, the reality was that the quality of my output was suffering considerably.
Thankfully, my boss called me out on it.
I regrouped and decided to take on less work (I dropped a side gig) so I could have a more streamlined set of tasks.
My production improved significantly.
6) Ruminating obsessively
To the anxiety-ridden readers on here, I feel you.
Endless ruminating can be incredibly stressful… and for the most part, completely unnecessary.
I know it’s tough but you have to actively accept your situation: you may have made mistakes in the past, neither do you know what the future holds.
Embrace the uncertainty.
This constant obsessing and replaying of events that happened in the past, whether five days or fifteen years ago, is unsustainable.
I know firsthand that ruminating about intrusive thoughts can be completely debilitating and mentally draining–it can also result in some really unhealthy habits like self-medication.
Instead, start cultivating mindfulness, a practice that promotes living in the moment, taking control of your headspace, and focusing on growth.
Don’t forget what Grandmaster Oogway from those hilarious Kung-Fu Panda movies wisely proclaimed: “Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, but Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”
7) Ignoring physical health
The links between regular exercise and its boundless physical and mental benefits are well documented.
Personally, after a 45-minute sesh at the gym, my head becomes clear and my perspective more grounded.
But it doesn’t end there, staying fit means things like eating right (sorry, the Popeye’s binges have to go) and staying hydrated.
We all have our weak moments; whenever I give in and gorge myself with chicken nuggets or a bag of Cooler Ranch Doritos, or maybe even that frozen pizza from Costco, I feel bloated, hyperacidity (yes, I’m over 30), and a little off mentally and emotionally.
The old cliche is mostly true: “You are what you eat.”
So start nourishing your body with a proper diet, exercise, and regular hydration–you’ll feel a palpable difference in your mental energy almost immediately.
The great thing about regaining your mental energy is that it is a pursuit that, for the most part, is in your hands.
You don’t have to rely on external factors like money, validation, a fancy car, or relationships to improve.
Sure all of the latter things are nice and can help you, but the more fundamental changes will mostly be dependent on you and how badly you want it.
So stop making excuses and start moving.
With the right mindset, I have no doubt in my mind, you’ll get to where you want to be in no time. Go get ’em, tiger!