Five Bad Habits That Are Slowly Hurting Your Health

While everyone partakes in bad habits, occasionally, some bad habits are worse than others, and may even be deteriorating your health.

However, these bad habits are not impossible to break, and may be done in moderation without causing ill health effects. In fact, various bad habits may be hurting your health without you knowing. To avoid the negative health effects your bad habits may be causing, you must be aware of the dangers of them.

From eating to going outside, activities meant to keep you healthy and happy can quickly become dangerous. The following sections explain the five most common bad habits you may be guilty of performing, and their side effects. Additionally, the sections detail how you can turn the bad habits into better habits, with simple tips and recommendations.

Snacking

Snacking can be a great way to stave off hunger between meals, but careless snacking can contribute to hazardous consequences, including weight gain and the loss of essential nutrients. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), your bad eating habits can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Snacking on foods with high amounts of sodium, sugar and processed meats is not recommended, but you can continue snacking if you snack smarter. Instead of choosing a dense chocolate bar, or even a muffin, as a mid-afternoon treat, consider trying foods with whole grain, protein or fiber. Other healthy snacking suggestions include:

  • Reusing breakfast foods. Toast, jelly and granola make fantastic snacks throughout the day, despite their use as traditional “breakfast” foods. Since snacks are meant to give you an energy boost, be sure to give yourself a variety of options.
  • Trying nuts or combination snack-packs. Nuts are filled with great nutrients and calories, and make ideal snacks for on-the-go eating. Combining nuts with lighter foods, like apples or grapes, can make you feel full longer.
  • Packing your snacks the day before to ensure you are not tempted to eat junk food. Also, you should avoid multitasking while you snack. Watching TV and web-browsing can distract you from tracking what – and how much – you are eating, so try to snack with fewer distractions, when possible.

Sitting for Long Periods

Studies have revealed that sitting is associated with obesity, some types of cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Although research is still being conducted, sitting for long periods has been shown to slow the metabolism, causing you to be less effective at breaking down fat and regulating your blood pressure. Extended sitting at a desk, in a vehicle or in front of a screen can increase the risk of death due to cardiovascular issues, simply because the body is not receiving enough physical stimulation.

Because of the increasing reliance on technology and the demands at some jobs, many adults may sit for more than six hours per day. While sitting is an inevitable part of your daily routine, you should take regular breaks from sitting and make efforts to move. Below are some suggestions you can employ to reduce the health effects caused by sitting:

  • Stand or walk every 30 minutes while you are sitting
  • Move or stand whenever you can, including when watching television or performing household chores
  • Consider converting your workspace to a counter or a standing desk to limit sitting during work hours.

Tanning

Contrary to popular belief, any skin tan, whether natural or artificial, that causes your skin pigment to darken, is dangerous. While many adults tan in preparation for the hot, summer months, tanning does not protect skin from getting sunburnt or sustaining other sun damage. In fact, the darkening of your skin caused by tanning is a direct response to UV radiation from the sun or a tanning bed, which means that you have already suffered some skin damage. Therefore, you are encouraged to wear sunscreen when traveling outside in sunny weather, and to avoid tanning frequently.

Most often, getting tan or sunburned is an unfortunate accident that occurs after a pleasant day in the sun, but it does not have to be. Remember to apply and reapply sunscreen at least every two hours while you are outside to avoid burning. However, if you cannot give up your tan, there are safe ways for you to enjoy a decent tan. For example, self-tanning lotions rarely cause skin irritation, and are created for countless skin-tones to give you a realistic tan.

Note: You can burn during any season, so apply sunscreen whenever you plan to be outside for a long period.

Excessive Stressing

Unlike the previous bad habits, stressing is a habit most adults want to stop. While stress is expected and natural in small amounts, excessive amounts of stress can be hazardous to your health. For example, chronic stress can cause or worsen health issues such as depression, physical pain, sleep problems and digestive disturbances. Unhealthy stress has been proven to suppress your immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses, and rapidly increase the aging process. Additionally, constant stress can increase your risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke. Therefore, managing your stress is vital. Helpful tips you can use to control your stress-levels include:

  • Finding a strong support network. Talking to friends and family about the stress in your life can alleviate the impact of stress.
  • Discovering a coping mechanism that works for you. Engaging in cooking, reading, writing, listening to music or other activities that you enjoy can help you manage your stress levels.
  • Resting when you can. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate stress, so be sure to get adequate sleep and take breaks from stressful tasks.

If you suffer from constant worrying for any reason, consider addressing some aspects of your life that may be contributing to your stress, including your thoughts and personal relationships. By reducing the amount of stress you experience, you can live a more productive and fulfilling life.

Skipping Meals

Whether you skip meals because you are too busy to eat or because you are trying to lose weight, skipping meals can have serious health effects. When you skip a meal, your blood sugar decreases, and your brain is unable to function properly. You may feel irritable, tired or stressed after skipping a meal without even realizing that skipping a meal had caused it. Not only does skipping meals affect your ability to function, but it can also lead to the development of some eating disorders. Getting into the habit of skipping meals can be life-threatening, so try using these tips to eat regularly:

  • Eat foods high in protein and fiber to keep you full longer if you need to miss a meal
  • Prepare meals in advance to encourage yourself to eat
  • Set an alarm for mealtimes to ensure you remember to eat
  • Make meals more entertaining by scheduling lunch or dinner dates with friends or family

Related Article: Eating Disorders

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