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10 habits to prevent mental disorders

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The prevalence of mental disorders has experienced a significant increase in recent decades, due to The reasons that could explain this epidemiological rebound are the subject of numerous investigations.

Depression and anxiety disorders, especially, are becoming more common. In fact, a high percentage of people who consult with their family doctor suffer from some of these psychopathologies.

It is therefore important to learn strategies through which to reduce the probability of suffering from mental health problems. In this article you will find Various habits to prevent psychological disorders, simple and accessible to all people.

  • Related article: "The 16 most common mental disorders"

Ten habits to prevent mental disorders

The ten habits to prevent mental disorders that we present below are based on current scientific knowledge. Sometimes they refer to organic bases (such as physical exercise and/or sleep), while in other cases they affect cognitive or behavioral correlates associated with both the onset and maintenance of these health problems emotional.

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1. Be compassionate with yourself and recognize your imperfection

It is dramatically common that, when judging ourselves, we adopt a posture of enormous rigidity and self-criticism. This way, We tend to impose a whole series of obligations on our lives that really are not obligations., unnecessarily taking the risk of feeling unhappy and frustrated. Many times, in those moments of emotional pain, we can address words so cruel that we would not even dedicate them to our worst enemies.

And it all starts from forcing ourselves to live on the narrow margins of an unattainable perfection, trying satisfy impossible expectations that progressively erode emotional resources and condemn us to discomfort psychological. It is therefore essential to adopt a comprehensive attitude that recognizes the option to err in total naturalness, without succumbing to catastrophic thoughts when they may occur ("if I don't do this perfectly I'm worthless", for example). example).

2. Cultivate your hobbies

The abandonment of moments of enjoyment is common among those who enter the dark path of depression. While sadness is a necessary and useful emotion, it can sometimes precipitate the additive loss of activities that in the past provided happiness, so that the quality of our daily life is impoverished and we enter a prison whose bars are forged of monotony.

The emotional inertia in which we sink when we find ourselves in such a state does not make things easier, so We must be aware that our first attempts to overcome it will seem like impositions that contravene what our body demands of us.. As if they do not arise naturally or oppose an imperative that is beyond our control. And every major life change implies a prior adaptation process, which requires effort and persistence, even when we know well that it will bring us positive things.

3. Maintain healthy relationships with others

Social support is considered one of the keys to mediate between stress and its impact on psychological health, especially when it is emotional (having people to talk to about our intimate concerns or having someone that gives us affection), far above that which only covers our material and immediate needs (providing us with resources economic). Feeling that we are loved and appreciated 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 ties that bind us to them. Giving thanks, asking for forgiveness and opening up to others is also important; Well, a wonderful network of human beings may not be of real help to us if we lack the skills to communicate adequately with it. That is, social support requires a proactive and open attitude to give and receive.

4. Do new things every day

Inertia and routine are two elements that erode our ability to be happy. In fact, they shorten lifespan in a certain sense: it has been shown that those who live without providing variety to their daily lives end up receiving its existence as shorter than it really was, since the brain ignores repetitive moments as it considers them of little relevance staff. For the latter, living with emotion is basic.

Dare from time to time to break your most firmly established habits: walk through unusual streets, change your haircut, dress differently or undertake something that makes you curious. In any case, make your daily life a space in which wonder 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. Practice regular physical exercise

Physical exercise has been proven to be healthy not only for the body, but also for the mind. Daily activity activates the body at times when it may be falling into a sedentary lifestyle that often coexists with depression or anxiety. anxiety, generating a series of endocrine changes that manifest themselves in the form of benefits for emotional health and in a reinforcement of our self-image.

Physical exercise enhances the production of endorphins at a central level, which reduce the sensation of physical and emotional pain, and provide us with pleasurable sensations. Studies on this issue show that people who practice aerobic sports regularly show reduced levels of depression and report feeling substantially less stressed, regardless of the objective demands of their job or the rest of their responsibilities everyday.

  • You may be interested: "The 10 psychological benefits of practicing physical exercise"

6. Be genuine with your emotions

Efforts to hide emotions, or the refusal to feel them fully, are associated with an exacerbation of their intensity and greater difficulty in regulating them. There is ample evidence that the professions that generate the most pronounced psychological discomfort are those that force us to act in a different way than how we feel deep inside (keeping a smile on our face despite having had a bad day, for example). example).

The first step is to interpret the emotions we may feel as useful tools to understand the world around us, others and ourselves; embracing them as an indivisible part of the experience. By doing so we will be able to approach them with much more security, keeping the necessary distance to distinguish their nuances and listen to what they are trying to communicate. Escaping from what we feel is like trying to escape from a room without doors or windows, but even more distressing.

7. Find a purpose

Viktor Frankl said that any circumstance in life, no matter how difficult it may be, would become bearable when given personal meaning. He added that the absence of purpose was responsible for generating deep discomfort (or noogenic depression), which would be perceived as a painful void in the fabric of existence. For all this, his logotherapy sought for individuals to discover their fundamental goal, their life plan or their ultimate goal.

Finding a purpose, something worth living for, strengthens the motivation to continue our efforts in situations of failure or frustration.

8. Surround yourself with nature

Human beings usually feel happy when they mix with nature. Despite this, this effect is not appreciated by the simple fact of being close to animals or plants, but rather requires the ability to feel integrated as another part of the environment. Today it is known that children who grow up in places that stimulate this connection, developing a feeling of fraternal union with the rest of the living beings that inhabit the earth, improves the ability to feel empathy towards others.

Walks through undeveloped areas are pleasant for most people. If we do it by taking advantage of sunlight, we will improve the central production (pineal gland) of melatonin during the night, a hormone related to positive emotions and more restful sleep (as it helps regulate circadian rhythms).

9. Sleep regularly

Sleep is one of the physiological functions that are most quickly compromised among those who suffer from psychological problems. Insomnia is a common element to both depressive and anxious symptoms, so they can be present in both cases. Thus, we know that sleeping poorly increases the risk of suffering from mental health problems, while these The latter also harm the quality of sleep, producing a cycle that can be difficult go out.

Sleeping adequately is important, and to do so we must adopt a set of healthy habits: avoid physical exercise three hours before going to bed, look for a dark and quiet environment, take short naps (45 minutes maximum), eat frugally, wear comfortable clothes, refuse to drink alcohol or coffee at home. the last hours of the day, find a comfortable temperature, set regular times to go to bed or wake up and use the bedroom only to sleep and have sex.

  • You may be interested: "10 basic principles for good sleep hygiene"

10. Learn to make decisions and be assertive

One of the reasons why people often experience discomfort in their lives is due to their difficulty making decisions, or using proactive strategies when faced with unsolvable problems. Identify the problem, define it in operational terms, extract plausible alternatives, evaluate the quality of the options available to us and act accordingly; They constitute a basic process to successfully address demanding situations. There are specific programs for this, such as Nezu and D'Zurilla's decision-making training.

On the other hand, learning to communicate assertively is also a habit that can protect us from develop emotional problems, particularly those that arise from conflict interpersonal. Through assertiveness we express what we need while safeguarding the rights of others, without engaging in excessively hostile or passive behavior. Assertiveness is, therefore, a search for balance in the relationships we have with other people.

Bibliographic references:

  • Layard, R. (2005). Happiness: Lessons from a New Science. Foreign Affairs, 86(6), 26 - 27.
  • Shang, E. (2019). The keys to happiness: Associations between personal values ​​regarding core life domains and happiness in South Korea. PLoS One, 14(1), e0209821.
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