3 Healthy Habits that Might be Wrecking Your Mental Health

If you follow any fitspo account for long enough, you’re going to get the same message: More is better. Want to get stronger? More hours in the gym. Want to get leaner? More clean eating. While all of this is true and valid, it does beg the question: At what cost to our mental health? In a society that constantly critiques body image, it is hard not to feel like you’re at the center of a spinning merry-go-round. Try to slow down or get off? You’re getting thrown for a ride.

The underlying question is simple:

If your fitness is causing your mental health to unravel, is it really worth it?

Here’s a few ways your fitness routine could be sabotaging your health.

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Overcommitting to workouts

Let’s face it. When your body is telling you no, it might be a good idea to listen to it. Many times, excessive amounts of exercise can have an adverse effect on your health and well-being. If you’re questioning if you need to skip a workout in favor of recovery, here are some signs to look for:

Elevated resting heart rate

Of the first signs and symptoms to look for in overtraining is an elevated heart rate of 5 or more beats per minute. The more intense the exercise, the greater cardiovascular strain that is placed on the heart.

Fatigue

If you’re feeling more tired than normal, this could also be a sign that you’re body needs a rest. Even though you may gain a short-term energy boost from a workout, the end result will be doing more damage than good.

Insomnia

Even though you may be feeling fatigue, you may find it difficult to sleep at night, leading to insomnia or restless sleep. This is due to disruption in normal sleep patterns, causing further fatigue.

Read more: On Why Sleep is So Important | What We Use For a Great Night’s Sleep

Delayed recovery time & weakened immune system

Even though many athletes seek the soreness that comes after a hard workout, constant muscle soreness overloads the body and is a sure sign to take a break. Chronic muscle soreness, as well as prolonged inflammation, may lead to a weakened immune system. For many, this may mean more frequent colds, but chronic inflammation has also been linked to diabetes and heart disease.

Fat gain

If you’re a frequent gym-goer, it’s likely because you’re attempting to shift your body composition to include less fat. However, increased exercise load can have the opposite effect. When in periods of prolonged stress, such as overtraining, the body responds by elevating levels of cortisol. This “fight-or-flight” stimulation leads to increased storage of adipose (fat) tissue. To counter, your body inhibits steroid-like hormones, which, normally would help to build muscle in the body. So, even though you may notice the scale is dropping, losing muscle mass means that your body is less efficient at burning calories and fat.

Read more: You Are More Than A Number On The Scale

Trying every fad diet

Your body needs calories and quality food to perform well in the gym. Unfortunately, many fad diets rest on the foundation of caloric depletion and food restrictions. There is no one-size-fits-all diet. The best diet will always be the one that you can stick to. It’s important to focus on high quality foods, nutrient-dense natural products, and consuming an appropriate amount of calories for your body. Being on a continual loop of dieting only leads to unhealthy issues with food restriction.

Read more: How I Changed My Relationship with Food | Set Yourself Up For Nutritional Success 

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Setting that early morning alarm

They say that the early bird gets the worm. But does the tired bird get the worm? We already discussed the importance of sleep when it comes to the effect that it plays in our physical well-being. But did you know that lack of sleep can play just as large of a role in your mental health? According to Harvard Health, 65-80% of adults who report suffering from depression also suffer from sleep disturbances. Not only that, but those patients who reported continuing insomnia and sleep problems reported relapses of depression later on.

Sleep problems can worsen anxiety disorders as well. In the same Harvard Health article, one study suggested that sleep problems affected more than 50% of adults with generalized anxiety disorders. Sleep disturbances can also play a role for those with ADHD and bipolar disorders.

So the next time that you think that you need to get up early for a workout, check in with your body first.

Read more: How To Effectively Manage Stress And Anxiety | Why We Overcommit & 5 Ways To Stop

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3 Healthy Habits That Might be Wrecking Your Mental Health