Bad habits that could be affecting your mental health

It's not just the incidents in our daily lives that can have a negative effect on our mental health, but our own routine and thought processes too.

We might not think that our sleeping pattern or our exercise routine can have a direct effect on our state of mind, but the truth is, they can have just as much of an impact as outside factors can.

If you're feeling more anxious or down than usual, could one of these habits be part of the problem?

1. You're avoiding physical exercise
If you're feeling stressed, heading home and skipping the gym can seem like the best option. But that exercise session could in fact be a great help. Regular workouts can actually ease symptoms of anxiety and can help you to develop better mental health. Try to fit more exercise into your day – even a brisk walk on your lunch break is a great way to clear your head.

2. You're drinking a lot of alcohol
After a bad day, we often crave that glass of wine or G&T to take the edge off. But alcohol is a natural depressant and can actually make your mood worse. Drinking late at night also means your sleep pattern will be disturbed and you won't wake up refreshed and ready for the day.

3. You're not getting enough sleep
Getting the right amount of shut-eye is SO important for maintaining good mental health. If you're lacking in sleep, even simple situations can seem harder to cope with. Often anxiety and stress can affect how much sleep we get, so give yourself a fighting chance by winding down around 30 minutes before bedtime with calm music, no laptop or phone and a cosy environment.

4. You're over-thinking things
Focusing on the same subject and thinking the same thoughts over and over can make us feel instantly stressed, sending our heart and breathing rates shooting up. When you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, try physically calming yourself down using deep breathing techniques. Get a change of scenery for a few minutes – even going into the next room or making a cup of tea can help.

5. You're holding onto anger
When we're annoyed or frustrated, sometimes it feels like the best solution is to avoid confrontation to avoid further negativtiy. But bottling up your feelings will only lead to them bubbling up in you further down the line. Try to communicate your feelings calmly or even just write them down to help you sort through them. You'll find this is more helpful than holding onto a grudge.