Understanding how to find balance in life is one of the most important things you can learn to do. Why? 

Well, when you’re living a balanced life, you’re more motivated and energetic. This, in turn, means that you’re going to live a happier and more fulfilling life. 

On the other hand, if you’re constantly engaging in habits that drain your energy, you’ll constantly be in a loop of misery. Your high level of stress is going to make you unfulfilled and unhappy. And worrying about this will only lead to a higher level of stress. 

Unfortunately for a lot of people, these eight habits are the major things holding them down. 


1. Stressing over things you can’t control 

We feel happy when we know that we are making progress in life. 

Think back to the moment when you had a project that was progressing smoothly, how did you feel? Great, right? You felt a rush of dopamine in your brain, and that’s how we get motivated to get things done in life. 

However, when you keep stressing over things you can’t control, the opposite happens. You begin to feel pain which will translate as stress in your brain. 

As clinical psychologist Randi Gunther, Ph.D., explained, when we are distressed about something, our body is being triggered to either face the problem or get away from it. 

Hence, when you keep taking yourself back to things you don’t want to confront, you’re causing yourself stress and also draining your energy in the process. 

Learn to consciously look at the things that you worry about. If it’s something you can control, do something about it. If you can’t control it, let it go. This may be easier said than done, but what better alternative do we have? 


Related: 8 Daily Habits That Harm Your Brain, According to Science


2. Keeping emotional vampires around you 

There are a lot of studies about how good relationships are good for our health. We know having the right people in our lives helps us live longer. 

But what about having the wrong people? 

As humans, the opinions of those who are close to us mean a lot to us. This is why some people carry different attachment issues and traumas from childhood to adulthood. 

When you surround yourself with people who pull you down, that’s the surest way to drain yourself emotionally. As studies have also confirmed, people who hang around negative people end up leaving negative lives themselves, and it’s no wonder why. 

Just like good relationships add to you, bad relationships take from you. 

Hence, the onus is on you to seek out those people who are going to fill you up. 

If you pay attention, the signs of toxic relationships are not hard to spot. Sometimes you feel physically and emotionally drained when you hang around some people. That’s a red flag. 

3. Making your mind a horror cinema 

As the Roman stoic, Lucius Annaeus Seneca said centuries ago, “We suffer more from our imagination than from reality.”

One of the most powerful things about the human mind is our sense of imagination. With it, we can picture an amazing vision and genuinely feel compelled in the present to bring it to pass. This is a miracle that only the human species can pull off. 

But as with many other great things, this one also came with a downside — we are also able to imagine horrific things and feel their impact in the present. According to research, people who repeatedly watch horrific news about attacks are likely to also develop trauma-related symptoms. 

When you constantly put yourself in a bad moment in your life through your mind, you’re draining your energy. 

Some people do this differently: They just imagine the worst things happening even before they happen. 

One way of solving this is to deliberately think positive thoughts. As Randi Gunther advised in Psychology Today, 

“Planning for the future or looking forward to something that expands your happiness or avoids current stress can actually create more energy.”

4. Worrying too much about what people think of you 

As many studies have now confirmed, constant use of social media is linked to a higher rate of depression. And one of the major reasons for this is that it intensifies our competition for attention and validation. 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be liked. But if you want to be liked by one million people, then you’re in for a mentally draining adventure. 

Here’s the thing:  

Humans are erratic. Often, what people think of you has nothing to do with you. For instance, I’m more likely to give you a positive opinion – or a like on Facebook – when I’m in a good mood. 

Hence, people’s opinions are wrong markers of self-evaluation. It will only make you oscillate between ecstasy and depression, and this is mentally draining. 

Learn to use an internal metric of self-evaluation. Find time to understand yourself and truly appreciate what makes you unique. Learn skills and carry responsibilities that will toughen you and give you a more genuine and lasting sense of self. 


Read: 3 Simple Habits That Make You Sleep Better According to Experts


5. An insatiable need for more 

There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious. But in your ambition, you should be able to celebrate little wins. This is what makes hard work meaningful. 

When you get to the point where one achievement is just a call to raise the bar higher without seeing how much you’ve achieved, that’s an unhealthy place to be. 

As studies show, being able to pause and be grateful for even the little things is one major habit that happy people possess. 

6. Shallow multitasking 

Imagine the following scenario: 

You decided yesterday that you’ll be writing by 8:00 am today. And once it was 8 o’clock, you went over to your desk. But as you were about to put on your computer, a text came in from your friend. 

“Ahh, it’s just one text,” you think to yourself. But immediately after you reply to that text, you got a notification from Facebook that five of your friends just liked your post. 

Out of curiosity, you quickly decide to go over to Facebook to check (and also see how many likes your post has). 

Before you know it, 8:47 am. 

Now you feel mentally unsettled. You spend a few minutes sitting still and getting yourself together. You’re looking at a blank white screen, your mind divided between your intro and Facebook, wishing you never replied to that first text. 

This happens to us all the time, and you’ll agree with me that it’s cognitively draining. 

The best remedy to this is Carl Newport’s advice in his book, Deep Work. As Carl advised, 

“Less mental clutter means more mental resources available for deep thinking.”

7. Comparing yourself to others

Another reason why social media is so dangerous to our mental health is that it increases our tendency to compare ourselves to others. And this need to compare can be deadly. 

There’s a whole Wikipedia page about celebrities who committed suicide, and most of them resulted from problems regarding social media and their public image. 

Here’s the thing: 

When you compare yourself to others, you’re playing a game that you can never win. Why? 

No one put’s their real lives on social media. All we see are highlight reels. You don’t see their character. And your comparisons will always be biased. 

For instance, the billionaire celebrity you want to be like could be a lousy drunk father who is despised by all his children. But you are a good father. Can you then say that such a celebrity has it better than you? 

The point here is that you can never know enough about someone to compare yourself to them. You are doing the best you can in your shoes. Just focus on living your life the best way you can. 

8. Procrastination 

“Every time you think about it, you will feel a rush of guilt, conflict, and embarrassment,” wrote  Randi Gunther in Psychology Today. “That spinning without accomplishment is a huge drain.”

When we put things off, we don’t get our minds off them. We are going to keep coming back to it in our heads. And every time we get a notification from our minds that there’s still something we are running away from, stress piles up in our brains. 

One way to stop procrastination is to stop making vague plans. Sometimes we put things off because we have a lot to do, but no plans to get them done. 

When you have a system in place to help you get things done, it’s easier to get past that initial dread of getting started. 


Final words 

These eight habits resonate with almost everyone. And one thing they all have in common is that they mess with us mentally. 

We often feel it when we are stepping out of line. We get the symptoms through stress, tiredness, unexplained frustrations, etc. But like a device on autopilot, we let this intense, unhealthy energy drain us. 

What if you can be more conscious of these habits? Learn to take a step back whenever you feel drained emotionally and mentally, and examine what might be causing it.  


Related: Four Things You Can Give Up Today Live A Stress-Free Life 


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