These Habits Might Be Sabotaging Your Mood
Published on May 10, 2021
Last updated October 28, 2021
Clean Plates Team
If you’ve ever tried to just be more optimistic or see the glass half-full, you know that controlling your mood is far from simple. That’s because our mood is controlled by an array of factors. Some of these factors are more obvious and under our control, and other are more subtle and difficult to harness. In other words, just trying to be happier isn’t going to cut it. But that doesn’t mean you should just succumb to your bad mood! Here are four bad habits that might to sabotaging your mood — and what to do instead.
1. You end every day with a glass or wine.
Pouring yourself a glass of wine after a long day of work is so ingrained in our culture, you may not think twice before you reach for the bottle. But alcohol affects your serotonin levels, which are heavily implicated in regulating mood. According to Cleveland Clinic, alcohol also depletes folic acid, a type of B vitamin that when depleted, may “cause feelings of depression and anxiety,” they wrote. Still other studies have shown that heavy drinkers are less likely to turn to positive coping strategies when dealing with anxiety and depression.
What to do: Take a night (or two) off. Even if you’re not a heavy drinker, alcohol still has the potential to affect your mood. A Psychosomatics study showed that even very moderate alcohol intake — less than one ounce per day — can negatively impact the pharmacological treatment of depression. Start small, by taking a night off from drinking. Need a treat? Try one of these calming beverages instead.
2. You take pictures of everything.
Thanks to smartphones, it’s easy to spend the best moments of your life taking pictures of the best moments of your life. When you’re snapping photos, you’re not truly living in the moment. As Diedra L. Clay, PsyD, chair and associate professor of counseling and health psychology Bastyr University, told Health: “The lens is a veil in front of your eyes and we don’t realize it’s there.”
Not only are you not living it the moment, taking photos can actually make it harder to remember the good times, according to a study published in Psychological Science. Study participants took a museum tour during which they were instructed to take photos of some objects and simply observe others. The results? Participants found it more difficult to remember the objects they had photographed than the ones they didn’t.
What to do: Make time for smartphone-free time. When you sit down to eat dinner, turn your phone off or put it in another room. Take a walk — and leave your smartphone behind. Want to take it to the next level? Take a break — a day, a week, or longer — from posting on social media.
3. You binge-watch your favorite TV shows.
Hours on the couch watching Breaking Bad might seem like a relaxing way to spend a Sunday. The reality is, you’ll likely feel worse at the end of it. Research has established a strong link between watching two or more episodes a show in one sitting and increased levels of depression and loneliness.
What to do: Pick up a book! Reading can help you feel more connected to others, particularly when what you’re reading is literary fiction. A 2013 study, published in Science, made major headlines when it found that reading literary fiction improve measures of social perception and empathy, which are extremely important for nurturing healthy relationships.
4. You aren’t exercising.
We’ve all heard the line that working out produces endorphins, and endorphins make us happy. But is exercise really that great of an antidepressant? According to science, yes.
What to do: The good news is that you don’t need to become a bodybuilder or marathon runner to get the positive benefits. In fact, a study on 33,908 adults published in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that even one hour of exercise a week can help prevent depression. Participants who didn’t exercise were 44% more likely to become depressed than those who exercised at least 1 or 2 hours a week.