6 Bad Habits that are Related to Poor Mental Health

Danielle Capozza
March 15, 2024
7 minutes

Cracking your knuckles, eating junk food, procrastinating, smoking, drinking. These are all examples of bad habits. Most people have bad habits although some are worse than others. But all of them have one thing in common. They almost always are coping mechanisms for us. These bad habits are often a way for us to deal and cope with poor mental health, be it anxiety, depression or chronic stress.

Your bad habit (or habits) may have become so ingrained, that you can no longer directly relate it to your stressors. But, if you identify and then study your bad habits, and then you look at what’s contributing or causing your bad habit, you will very likely find a connection to your mental health issues. Identification is the first step when it comes to replacing your bad habits with a more positive one.

Bad Habits and Poor Mental Health

Have you ever had something stressful happen and noticed the first thing you do is crack your knuckles? Or maybe you head to the kitchen to ice cream or to pour a glass of wine? Your habits may provide temporary comfort, but they don’t make your problems go away.

In more severe cases, some people drink excessively or do illicit drugs to deal with mental health issues. For example, someone dealing with chronic anxiety may use drugs because they help them calm down. Or someone with depression may use illicit substances because they temporarily lift their mood.

Unfortunately, self-medicating does more harm than good. Drugs are a mask for the problem, can create dependency, are at times difficult to discontinue and are not a good way to improve your mental wellness resiliency. They can also make mood swings worse in the long run and they can also cause financial, legal, and relationship issues.

Bad Habits and How They Relate to Mental Health

In this section, we will look at some common bad habits and how they relate to poor mental health.


Procrastination or avoidance is commonly practiced by people who would rather not deal with a stressful situation. Unfortunately, putting something off typically makes matters worse.

For example, if you put off a repair, the issue could cause permanent damage. If you hold off on a work task, your boss will be mad, and you may even get fired.
It’s best to do things right away so you don’t have to think about them anymore.

Overuse of Social Media

Social media is a great way to connect with others but many use it as an escape. They find themselves on social media so often, they are unable to get anything else done. You may not have to eliminate social media from your life completely but try to limit yourself so you only go on for a certain amount of time each day. This will give you some time to connect and complete necessary tasks.

A Sedentary Lifestyle

Many people get into the habit of not exercising. Other than the obvious physical benefits of staying active and working out, sedentary lifestyles are linked to depression and anxiety.

When you exercise, your body produces serotonin which reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. Some say it’s more effective than antidepressants and therapy. If you’re not exercising, you are contributing to your poor mental health.

Focusing on the Negative

Negative thoughts or focusing on the negative is perhaps the biggest contributor to anxiety (excessive worry) and depression (excessive sadness). It’s not unusual for people to focus on negative things that happened. They may beat themselves up for a mistake they made. Or they may focus on actions that didn’t have the most positive outcomes.

Dwelling on negativity breeds anxiety and depression. Instead of focusing on the negative, think of the positive things you did. Use your failures as a learning moment and move on. You will find that this improved outlook will boost your general well-being.

Not Getting Enough Sleep

It’s important to have a steady sleep routine. Sleep, in its simplest form is the body's time to mentally and physically recover, recharge and get ready for the next day. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day will help you get better quality sleep. Sleep and the recovery associated with it, helps the body cope with stressors. It also improves attention, learning, and memory.

Many people stay up late because they become involved in a movie, social media, or other activities. But it’s essential to leave a window for your body to unwind. Set a reasonable sleep time and stick to it for optimal mental health.


Perfectionism may not seem like a bad habit, but it’s more detrimental than you might realize. Perfectionism causes you to set unrealistic goals. It makes you beat yourself up when you are unable to attain those goals.

It’s okay to set high standards for yourself, but make sure your goals are realistic. Don’t blame yourself for failures. Keep stress and anxiety within healthy boundaries.

Hanu Health Can Help

If you have bad habits, Hanu Health has solutions. Our mobile app helps you identify stressors and how you react to them. It recommends healthy behaviors that replace bad habits.