9 Daily Habits That Secretly Harm Your Mood & Mental Health

Plus, the healthy habits to do instead.

By: Lexy Parsons

Do you often find yourself feeling stressed, irritable, or down on yourself, with little understanding as to why? You’re not alone, mood fluctuations are normal. However, experiencing prolonged negative emotions can be draining and frustrating. So, if this sounds like you, consider checking in on your daily habits. Those mindless tasks that we do without thinking — like reaching for our phone immediately upon waking or sitting for too long — can influence our mood and mental health more than we realize. But, with a little know-how, identifying them and modifying them is a simple step that can go a long way in improving your mental health and overall well-being. And we’re here to help you do just that. 

Ahead are nine daily habits that may be secretly sabotaging your mood and mental health. Plus, tips on how to transform them into mood-boosting rituals! Learn how to take back control of your mood and pave the way for a happier, healthier life!

RELATED: The 4 Secrets to a Happier Life According to an Expert

9 Habits That May Negatively Affect Mood & Mental Health

Awareness is key, especially when it comes to sifting through the cause of our emotions. Take note of these not-so-good habits. Then, look to our tips for advice on how to swap these sneaky habits with healthy habits that boost your mood and benefit your brain health. Take it one habit at a time, and keep building. Then, watch the good moods roll on in!

#1 Grabbing Your Phone First Thing in the Morning

It’s way easier to have a great day when you have a great morning. And while it’s tempting to grab your phone first thing, looking at your phone immediately upon waking can do more harm than good. First, the blue light from your electronics can disrupt your circadian rhythm and interfere with your sleep patterns, making it harder for you to fall asleep later in the day. 

Plus, checking emails or the news and scrolling through social media right after waking up can expose you to stressful or negative information right off the bat. And who wants to begin their day with anxiety, stress, or feelings of overwhelm?

The Healthy Habit Fix:

Instead, keep your phone at a distance until you carry out your morning routine! If you mindlessly grab it upon waking, consider keeping it in another room. To support your mood and mental health, try starting your morning with healthy activities like stretching, journaling, meditation, or reading. And if you’re short on time, you could simply sip your coffee outdoors or take your pup on a neighborhood stroll.

RELATED: The Best Morning Routine According to Science

#2 Spending Too Much Time on Social Media

Speaking of electronics, excess social media use is another sneaky habit that can easily take a toll on our mind and mental health. Even if we’re not using it first thing in the morning, we want to avoid too much scrolling. According to research, excess social media use is strongly correlated with an increased risk for anxiety, depression, and other negative thoughts and experiences. It can lead to a slew of negative emotions like self-comparison, jealousy, and low self-worth. 

Plus, the concept of “FOMO” is real — it can make you feel like you’re missing out on events or life milestones others are sharing. Plus, the addictive nature of social media can easily consume your time. This can result in reduced productivity and poor time management — it can even keep you from squeezing in a workout.

The Healthy Habit Fix:

Consider taking a social media detox. Sign off social media for a day (maybe even a weekend or week) to give your mental health a break. Or, at the very least, set healthy boundaries with your social media use. Set limits on screen time and be more mindful when scrolling.

RELATED: How to Set Boundaries & Why You Should 

#3 Watching The News Before Bed

We absorb a lot of negative energy daily, and it’s not just from social media. Watching the news too often can contribute to heightened levels of stress and anxiety, which is why watching it before bed can roughen up your sleep. In fact, research has shown that consuming negative news can activate the body’s stress response, triggering the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Not only does this affect your sleep and mood, but it can also affect your digestion, metabolism, and overall health

The Healthy Habit Fix:

Ideally, power down the electronics two hours before bed (if not sooner). To help support your sleep and mood, try something a little more relaxing before bed, like a warm bath and a book.

Some other stress-relieving evening ideas include:

  • Practicing yin yoga or breathing techniques 
  • Journaling or reflecting on positive aspects of your day
  • Diffusing calming essential oils, such as lavender or chamomile
  • Listening to soothing music or a guided meditation 

RELATED: Want Better Sleep? Try These 13 Life-Changing Tools

#4 Letting Your Blood Sugar Drop Too Low

If you’ve ever experienced ‘hanger,’ that unfavorable combo of hunger and irritability, you’ve likely experienced low blood sugar, aka hypoglycemia. This is often due to irregular eating habits, such as skipping meals or not consuming enough healthy snacks throughout the day. Why is this important? Without enough blood sugar, our brain is deprived of its primary energy source: glucose. This can contribute to irritability, mood swings, and even feelings of depression. 

The Healthy Habit Fix:

Eating enough nutrient-dense foods regularly throughout the day sets your blood sugar up for success. You’ll feel less stressed, irritable, and fatigued, which means more energy and improved mood. Plus, you’ll be more likely to make healthy choices and less likely to reach for not-so-healthy snacks!

Here are some blood sugar-balancing snacks:

  • Chia seed pudding with berries
  • Avocado toast topped with a hard-boiled egg
  • Cottage cheese with veggie sticks or fresh fruit 

RELATED: 6 Tips to Balance Blood Sugar Between Meals

#5 Overscheduling Yourself

When our schedule is jam-packed, and our cup is empty, it can take a toll on our mood. You may feel like you’re tending to everyone’s needs but your own, which can (understandably) lead to feelings of fatigue or resentment. Even if you’re able to sustain this lifestyle, eventually, it will lead to burnout — and that’s no way to live!

The Healthy Habit Fix:

Schedule self-care breaks into your day, so you get as much you-time as possible. Say no when necessary, set healthy boundaries, and take time to rest or seek support when needed! Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

RELATED: 14-Day Self-Care Challenge

#6 Overworking

Speaking of doing too much, we tend to work ourselves into the ground. Despite the “go-go-go” society we live in, more is not always more. We may think it makes us more productive, but research says otherwise! In fact, we’re more productive when we work less, as it leads to better work-life balance and improved self-care. In turn, we’re less stressed and more energized, which leads to increased productivity and focus. A win-win!

The Healthy Habit Fix:

Work smarter, not harder! Optimize your time by tackling high-priority tasks first, and don’t be afraid to ask for support! Delegate tasks when you can, and remember to take frequent breaks. Research shows it can reduce stress and increase productivity! You can even squeeze in a quick at-work workout!

#7 Overthinking About the Past or Future

Some find themselves in this constant limbo: obsessing over past events or preparing for future obstacles. Constantly navigating this anxiety dance can lead to some pretty poor moods, not to mention contribute to spikes in cortisol, poor sleep, and feelings of anxiety or depression.

The Healthy Habit Fix:

Stay aware of your thoughts with regular meditation, and try to focus on what you can control. Mindful practices like deep breathing can work wonders for staying in the present. 

Try this Calming the Mind meditation to get out of your head and into your body.

#8 Not Getting Enough Sunlight

Sunlight is integral to our health — in fact, it’s been shown to reduce stress, boost energy, and benefit our mood. So, naturally, when we’re cooped up all day staring at screens, our ability to stay in a good mood dwindles. Too much time inside and not enough sunlight exposure can lead to anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, and even depression in some.

The Healthy Habit Fix:

Get a daily dose of the great outdoors, even if it’s short and sweet! This could be a quick 15-minute walk, meditating or exercising in nature, or simply enjoying your morning latte outside in the sunshine. Not only can it help boost your mood, but it can also regulate your circadian rhythm and improve your sleep

RELATED: Can 10 Minutes of Sunshine Per Day Lower Stress?

#9 Remaining Sedentary

Our bodies are designed to move! When we sit for too long, it can impact both our physical and mental health. According to research, a sedentary lifestyle has been linked to mental health consequences like depression, stress, and anxiety, not to mention an increased risk for chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The Healthy Habit Fix:

Get up and boost those endorphins to promote a better mood! If you haven’t joined our community yet, sign up for free and get access to unlimited free workouts for all fitness levels and all kinds of schedules! 

Only have 10 minutes? There’s a workout for you! With a variety of free, quick workouts, there’s a workout for even the busiest days. 

Take Your Mood Seriously

There are a lot of habits that affect mood changes. But not to worry! If there’s any one hack on maintaining a positive outlook, it’s starting your morning off right. For instance, think about when you start your day rushing around, trying to get everything together in time. The rest of the day seems to be stressful, too! But, when you start off calm and relaxed, it’s way easier to keep that momentum going. So, start here, weave in the other habit tweaks you need, and do things that make you happy! Your mood will thank you.