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2 habits to quit for happiness

Tired of feeling low, anxious, or downright depressed? While these things often have their roots in bigger issues, you might be surprised to find that there are some common habits & actions exacerbating these feelings.

1. Living in your head

Recently, you’ve probably heard the term ‘mindfulness’ being thrown around a lot. In short, mindfulness is a type of meditation that focuses on being aware of the feelings and sensations you are experiencing in the current moment. With its origins in Buddhism, this technique is over 2000 years old and has been proven to have huge benefits for your mental health. So, why are we suddenly hearing about it so much now?

The typical modern lifestyle is relentless; people arguably have more free time than ever before in recent history, but that time is full of constant stimulation. Whether it’s watching TV, playing video games, or scrolling on social media, it is rare that our brains get a break. It is highly beneficial to have these breaks, as your brain can only process so much information before it needs rest. Never having them means that you stop connecting with your body and surroundings, and can begin ‘living in your head’. This may lead to heightened stress or anxiety, as you ruminate on thoughts or events that are far less significant or relevant than you believe them to be.

The benefits associated with mindfulness are numerous, including lessened symptoms of depression and anxiety, better working memory and focus, less emotional reactivity, and even higher satisfaction with relationships. You don’t have to sit in a candlelit room, burn incense, or chant “humm” either; mindfulness can be as simple as taking a walk without your phone, focusing on what you can feel at any given moment, or going to bed without a device in hand.

2. Comparing yourself to others

You may have heard the phrase ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ before, and research shows that this is likely the truth. When we compare ourselves to others, it can have both negative and positive effects. Comparing yourself to someone you perceive as lower, or worse-off than you has been linked with boosted self-esteem, whereas comparing to those perceived as better than you has been linked to lowered self-esteem.

This behaviour could be encouraged by social media, where people often portray their lives or careers in a highly curated, narrow way. Whether it’s the use of editing to improve one’s appearance, or sharing a finished project without the hard work and failures behind it, it’s all too easy to see our own lives as inferior by comparison. This is amplified by the fact that our posts and profiles are linked directly with statistics (i.e. likes, followers). Having these numbers allows comparisons to be easy, constant, and even subconscious.

While you don’t have to completely avoid social media, it may be wise to limit your time on it. After all, it can be a useful tool to connect with others, further your career, or share your passions with the world; just remember to compete with your own achievements and progress, not somebody else’s.

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