We all have our habits – some are good, some not so good. We read that it takes a certain amount of time to form a habit or break a habit. However, it seems like a good habit takes forever to form and can fall to the wayside very quickly. It also seems like a bad habit can be formed almost instantly and breaking it can take forever.
However long it takes to form good habits and break bad ones, we generally know which ones we need to have and which ones we need to break. Sometimes we need a little reminder of what those are and what to do. With that in mind, here are 10 bad habits you should definitely target to eliminate.
This one should be obvious. It’s also one of the toughest to break. One word should prompt you to ditch smoking – death. There’s almost no other thing that is so closely linked to early and preventable death as smoking. The obvious effect is cancer. Smoking can also lead to heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Beyond the diseases, it also causes premature skin aging (i.e. wrinkles), yellowing of teeth, and bad breath. It also endangers the health of others, as second-hand smoke can cause some of the same illnesses in non-smokers.
9. Excessive drinking
This one is also fairly obvious, but many aren’t aware of how bad excessive drinking really can be. Heavy drinking is defined as more than 8 drinks per week for women and 15 per week for men. Binge drinking is defined as consuming more than four (women) or five (men) drinks within 2 hours. Heart and liver disease, brain and pancreas problems, and cancer can result from heavy drinking or binge drinking. Poor motor function as a result of being intoxicated puts you at greater risk of injury. If you are a heavy drinker that can’t seem to stop completely, try reducing the number of glasses you drink each time, followed by the number of times you drink a week.
8. Eating junk food
That fast food joint you love so much? Pretty much everything on the menu is junk food, even the things they tell you (or at least seem to be) healthy. And that diet soda you are drinking to be healthier? Sorry, it’s just as bad for you as regular soda, since carbonated water is hard on the body just like sugar is. Most fruit juices are high in sugar as well. Fried foods are high in cholesterol, which is a leading cause of heart disease. Fast food and many packaged snacks are very high in sodium, which also contributes to heart disease, stroke, and a host of other diseases.
7. Too much TV
While having a favorite show or two is perfectly acceptable, consuming hours of TV every day can have bad effects on your life. It’s doubtful you will learn anything you can use to improve your day-to-day life, when you could be using that time to engage in activities that educate or nurture you. It also will accelerate the problems that come from sitting too long, similar to sitting in one position all day at work. The body needs to be put in motion frequently to help with blood circulation and avoiding soreness from inactivity.
6. Being late / Procrastinating
Being late is a terrible habit. It is rude because it wastes other people’s time and says their priorities are less important than yours. It also leaves you rushed, disorganized and constantly apologizing. Putting things off until the last minute is equally bad. You find yourself exhausted, sleep-deprived, and feeling like you have no control because you are always reacting instead of being proactive. Make your priority lists early, and plan to arrive to every appointment 10 minutes early, armed with that priority list to work on in case someone else is late because they haven’t learned the lesson that you have learned.
5. Stress eating
We talked about junk food earlier, but this is about eating in response to emotions – when you’re unhappy, stressed, disappointed, anxious, or even happy. Eating in this manner is not about being hungry – your stomach being empty – but about dealing with emotions. Stress eating can lead to weight gain, since it is rarely celery and carrots that get consumed during a stress-induced meal. Explore more healthy ways to manage stress and don’t get caught in this trap.
4. Nail biting
This is another habit that often is associated with high levels of stress. It can cause dental and stomach problems in addition to the damage it does to the nails themselves. Not only that, many people find it gross and thus is socially unacceptable. Just like with stress eating, search for more healthy methods of coping with stress, such as a brisk walk or listening to soothing music.
3. Hanging out with naysayers
The last 3 items on this list aren’t necessarily a danger to your body, but more of a danger to your mental and emotional well-being. Most people are their own worst critics, so the last thing they need is someone who brings negativity to their ideas. “I’m just playing devil’s advocate,” they say as they object to every single idea you have. Constructive feedback is the kind where someone points out a flaw or weakness, but also offers a possible solution. That’s the kind of feedback you need, and that’s what you will get if you spend time with like-minded people that want you to succeed.
2. Bad relationships
Are you one of those people that always seems to attract the bad ones? Are you always getting involved with people who are unappreciative or don’t treat you like you should be treated? If so, that’s unfortunate, but you don’t have to accept it. If you find yourself in a bad relationship, go ahead and get yourself out of it. Don’t settle for someone that doesn’t treat you well and meet your needs.
1. Focusing on negatives
When bad things happen, you can keep yourself focused on what is wrong and complain, or you can focus on what you can control and change. Focusing on the negative doesn’t empower you or inspire you to be better. Channel your energy to what you can control and what will make the situation better going forward.
There are all kinds of things out there that can be formed as a habit. The things that will do damage often come the easiest, have the greatest temptations and can form the strongest holds. We must work as hard as we can to push through and eliminate the bad habits before they cause damage. Do your best to avoid or break these bad habits so you can live a full, enjoyable life.