6 Bad Habits You Should Stop to Help Your Health

woman at computer negative thoughts

We are by nature creatures of habit. In fact, most times I doubt we even consider our habits—we just do them without thinking. This is great if our habits are positive and make us more productive people. But what about those subconscious practices that drive our loved ones crazy—or worse, could even hurt our health? Consider these six bad habits that may actually be more detrimental to your health than you realize! Are you guilty? There’s always time to change. 

Bad Habit #1: Negative Attitude & Self-Talk

It turns out that happy people are more likely to have happy bodies. According to Dr. Laura Kubzansky, professor of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “emotional vitality—characterized by enthusiasm, hopefulness, engagement in life, and the ability to face life’s stresses with emotional balance—is associated with a substantially reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.” So figure out what brings you joy in life and start focusing more on that now to reduce your risk of debilitating disease in the future. Positive vibes help!

In addition to being outwardly positive, having positive self-talk is also really important to reaching your health goals, particularly when it comes to weight loss. What you say to yourself matters! It can help propel you or derail you. We may overeat as a result of guilt from negative self-talk or as a way of numbing emotions. Negative self-talk also creates stress, which metabolically makes weight loss that much more difficult for the body. That’s no good. So be good to yourself! 

Bad Habit #2: Over-Scheduling

Unfortunately, certain cultures fuel a busy lifestyle. While it may feel extremely productive at times, those of us who have a habit of over-scheduling can be left feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. The constant rushing from one thing to the next often creates unnecessary stress and impacts the safety of ourselves and others. How do we overcome the habit of over-booking? And how do you make time for what’s really important—including healthy habits? Take a closer look and re-evaluate your choices.  

This need to pack it all in may have actually come from habits we established as kids. It’s been shown that over-scheduling kids can have a negative impact on their eating habits, sleeping habits, and relationships with friends and family members, according to Deb Lonzer, MD, chair of Community Pediatrics for Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital. When it comes to your daily or weekly schedule, it’s good to have a plan. We want you to intentionally schedule time for being active, meal prepping, and doing things that relieve stress. But be mindful of over-booking your time with lower-priority activities that inhibit you from doing these sorts of healthy habits long-term.

Bad Habit #3: Procrastination

Are you prone to putting things off? You may want to rethink your habits, says psychological scientist Fuschia Sirois of Bishop’s University in Quebec, as “trait procrastination—that is, a tendency to delay important tasks despite the negative consequences—was significantly associated with having hypertension or cardiovascular disease.” Many other ailments, such as headaches, digestive issues, colds and flus, and insomnia may also be the result of stress from delaying the inevitable. In many cases, relationships are also impacted both personally and professionally by close or unmet deadlines. Leaving things to the last minute likely create frustration or even anger in our friends, family, or coworkers, who are fed up with our ways. So do yourself and those you love a huge favor by being more proactive rather than reactive.

Bad Habit #4: Always Prioritizing Others

Some of us put the needs of others above our own. There’s nothing wrong with this—in fact, it’s a trait to be admired. However, the downside is that those who do this have a tendency to take on the stress and anxiety of other peoples’ problems in an effort to help and care for them. If you relate to this, it’s time to make practicing self care a habit. Identify what you need, when you need it, and how to prioritize these needs. You will be able to better care for others when you’ve taken time to care for yourself.

Bad Habit #5: Binge-ing TV

We are all victims to autoplay, and thus end up spending many sedentary—albeit joyful—hours with our couch. I am by no means demonizing Netflix, Hulu, and other entertainment platforms. They’re great. But we must strike a balance between adequate physical activity and binge-ing the entire season of [insert your show here]. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. If you’re not sure how to fit in working out on the reg, here are 7 things to rebuild fitness habits to get you started. And to prevent withdrawal symptoms, don’t forget that running on the treadmill or spinning on a stationary bike are great times to catch up on your shows! 

Bad Habit #6: Not Preparing Your Own Food

When you’re short on time, a household of one, or traveling for work, it can be easy to get out of the habit of cooking at home. I am definitely guilty of this. The problem with eating out frequently is it not only weighs on your weight, but your financial stability as well. I think we can all admit that we likely eat larger portions of higher-calorie foods when consuming meals away from home. The industry is against us. With this simple 14-day healthy meal plan or our healthy recipes and advice, you can get back in the habit of eating healthy and hopefully save a few bucks too! 

In the end, there’s no question: Breaking bad habits and creating new healthy ones can be challenging. But the obvious pay-offs for your health and lifestyle make it worth it! You can do this.

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Carly Sippel is a registered yoga teacher, certified life coach, and nutrition nut. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Dietetics from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She turns her passion into practice, promoting healthy bodies in both her personal and professional life.