Latest posts by Sarah Landrum (see all)
- How to Cut Your Unhealthy Habits - September 26, 2016
- 10 Things Holding You Back From Your True Potential – and How to Stop Them - September 12, 2016
Everyone has them — those little unhealthy habits, and yet you keep doing them anyway. Does that sound about right? When it comes right down to it, though, those little bad habits have a tendency of adding up until they become something that is either too difficult to deal with alone or something that can become truly dangerous to your health.
To help you cut those little unhealthy habits out of your life before they become a big bad habit, we’ve gathered a few tips and tricks to carry you through.
Instead of telling you just how to break your habits without any context, however, we’ve given a few examples of potential everyday unhealthy habits you may or may not be dealing with, and ways to turn them around.
Feel free to skip around and find the pieces that really speak to you — there’s good information in every section that could help you kick those habits for good.
Eating lots of junk food
It’s super easy to grab a candy bar or bag of chips from the office vending machine or corner store when you’re feeling the need for a snack. Sadly, in many cases it’s a lot easier and cheaper than buying an apple, a cheese stick or something a little healthier, so many of us have become junk food junkies.
It might seem like a strong word, but junkies is more accurate than you might think — there are some studies that have shown the human body can become addicted to sugar.
You’re not alone, though. As a country, we actually eat about 31% more packaged food than fresh food, and more than half the country thinks it’s easier to deal with the IRS than it is to learn how to eat healthy.
The biggest trick to beating a junk food habit is figuring out why you’re picking junk over fresh options. Is it the convenience? Are you too busy with work or school to cook during the week, or are you just snacking because you’re bored? Once you’ve figured out what’s pointing you toward that vending machine, you can take steps to fix it. A few ideas might include:
- Picking up quick and easy healthy snacks to take with you to work or school.
- Prep your meals for the week on your day off. That way all you have to do is grab and go!
- Find quick and easy recipes that can be cooked, start to finish, in 30 minutes or less.
It might take some getting used to, but once you get in the habit of making and eating healthier foods, you’ll find you won’t even want to go back to the junk food you used to rely on.
Biting your nails
Nail biting is one of the grossest habits you can have, but at the same time it’s also one of the hardest to break — and that’s speaking from personal experience.
In adults, nail biting is usually a sign you’re bored, anxious or stressed out.
To break a habit like this, or any other unhealthy habit that is triggered by environmental factors like stress or anxiety, you have to learn to redirect your actions. For most people, it’s as simple as 1-2-3:
- Make a plan. Write it down where you will see it as often as possible.
- Figure out your triggers and decide what you will do instead of nail biting when you encounter those triggers.
- Consciously focus on your replacement action anytime you encounter your trigger.
Keep it up for 30 days (or longer if necessary), and you will find it becomes a lot easier to say, “No, I don’t want to bite my nails anymore.”
Spending too much time online
We’re all constantly connected to each other and the Internet by way of our computers, phones, tablets and other smart devices. It may seem like it’s impossible to get away from all of those notifications, emails and apps demanding our attention, but the reality is that a lot of us don’t want to get away.
Internet addiction is becoming a more pronounced problem every year, and even if we haven’t reached the point of full-blown addiction, it’s getting harder and harder for us to disconnect, even for a little bit.
Do you have a minor panic attack if you leave your phone at home? If you’re nodding yes, then you’re in the right place.
The trick with this particular habit is to start small. Don’t lock your smart phone in a box or put a password on your computer right off the bat — that will just lead to heightened anxiety and additional problems.
Instead, start by just turning off your smart phone before bed. Get a good night’s sleep. If that’s not an option — i.e. you’re on call or have family members who might have to contact you — then turn off your email notifications and put your phone on the charger across the room or in another room.
If you go on vacation, consider disconnecting the entire time you’re away. Buy or rent a digital camera to document your trip instead of having your phone in hand all the time. Don’t answer any text messages or emails. If you have concerned family members, set a time or date to check in with them, but don’t make it a daily thing.
You’ll be surprised how much more refreshed you feel after a couple of days without that constant connection.
Hanging on to too much clutter
A cluttered house is more than just a bad habit — it can actually have a negative effect on your mental state as well. If left unattended, it becomes a cycle. You see the clutter, and it messes with your mood — but you don’t pick it up, and it becomes more cluttered. Round and round you go in a downward spiral that can lead to a little bit of clutter becoming a big problem.
De-cluttering your house can be tricky, especially if you have a habit of clinging to things for their sentimental value. To deal with this, many people utilize the KonMari method of de-cluttering. Essentially what this means is that you hold each item that you own, and if it doesn’t give you joy, you toss it or donate it to a worthy cause.
It’s not always easy and doesn’t need to be tackled all at once, but it’s worth a try if you’re worried about your clutter negatively affecting your life.
Drinking too much alcohol
This is easily one of the trickiest habits to take care of. We all enjoy a nice drink now and then, either at home or out at a bar or club with friends. It’s hard to tell when one drink becomes too many, but this can easily become a bad habit that damages your body, your relationships and even your life.
So when is drinking a habit, and when does it become a problem?
If you’re enjoying a glass of wine or a beer after work to wind down after a long day, then you’ve got yourself a habit. While not particularly dangerous, it can quickly evolve into something more.
If you find yourself spending every weekend morning hung over or blacking out when you go out to drink with friends, it might be time to reconsider your drinking habits.
If you think your habits are starting to become a problem, start by talking to a trusted friend. They may be able to see things as an outside observer that you’re unable to see yourself.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Refusing to ask for help when there’s a problem can be the catalyst which turns that habit into a full blown addiction.
Habits aren’t always a bad thing. It’s habits that make us get to the gym in the morning and show up for work on time. It’s those little unhealthy habits, however, that can add up over time and start to cause a real problem we really need to take care of. Take that first step today and move toward a healthier life, free of bad habits.