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Healthy habits like exercising and eating well can improve the quality of your life. Over time, these practices may also help you avoid disease and live longer. At the same time, unhealthy tendencies can make it more difficult to avoid medical problems and reduce stress. Learn about some of the most common unhealthy habits in adults and what you can do to replace them.
1. Forgetting to Hydrate
When you’re busy, the last thing you are probably thinking about is grabbing a glass of water. However, proper hydration is essential to everything you do. Without enough water, says the Mayo Clinic, your body can’t carry enough oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and cells. This may leave you feeling tired and sluggish at home or at work. Being hydrated also lubricates your joints, protects your organs and makes it easier for your kidneys to flush waste.
If you forget to drink water during the day, carry a reusable bottle with you. Each time you take a break or get up from your desk, refill the bottle to the top. According to Healthline, most men and women should drink half a gallon of water per day. Good old H2O is the best beverage for preventing dehydration, but there are other drinks that can help you hydrate. Sports drinks are helpful for those who plan on working out for longer periods of time, while water flavored with fruit or mint can also help to break up your usual routine. Avoid dehydrating beverages such as coffee, cola or beer. While they may quench your thirst for a moment, they will actually pull more moisture away from your body.
2. Not Getting Enough Sleep
According to the doctors at Harvard Medical School, most American adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to stay healthy. If you’re getting any less than the recommended amount, you may want to consider changing your sleep routine. The dangers of not getting enough sleep include decreased reaction time while driving and impaired memory. You may even have mood swings or have trouble staying alert during the day.
Adjust your schedule so you can spend at least seven hours in your bed each night. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, invest in things that can make your room more comfortable. Installing blackout shades and blinds or faux wood blinds on your bedroom windows will help to keep bright light and heat outside. If it’s necessary for you to sleep into the late morning hours, these window coverings will make it seem like it’s still dark outside. Other ways to create a comfortable space include investing in cozy linens, choosing quality pillows and keeping your room at a cool temperature throughout the night. If you’re still having trouble resting, talk to your doctor. They can evaluate you for any medical conditions and discuss natural supplements that can help you stay asleep at night.
3. Ignoring Your Stress Level
In today’s busy and technology-driven world, it’s common for adults to feel some type of stress. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association finds that as many as six in 10 adults feel regular stress about their career and finances. These same men and women also feel that they have a higher than average stress level—and that they could use more emotional support than they currently receive. Some people may have trouble asking for help, while others don’t know what type of resources are available to them outside their immediate family.
If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, don’t push it to the side. The risks of ignoring stress include the potential to develop mental health problems, cardiovascular issues and gastrointestinal disease. You can start by taking up a relaxing hobby like yoga or meditation. It may also help to talk to a counselor or therapist. Finally, you can try spending time in nature, playing a team sport or writing in a journal.
4. Obsessing Over Social Media
There are many benefits to social networking, including keeping up with family and bonding with others who have similar interests. However, Psychology Today says too much scrolling can lead to social isolation and self-esteem problems. It can even increase your risk of developing depression.
While you don’t need to delete your accounts, scale back the time you spend on your favorite apps. Balance your online use with real life experiences and relationships. If you start feeling anxious or negative while spending time on social media, close the app and distract yourself with something nurturing. Self-care activities like taking a warm bath, taking a walk outdoors or reading a good book can be an excellent way to shift your thinking from negative to positive.
5. Sitting Too Often
Most people spend several hours each day sitting at work, watching television and driving. These sedentary activities may be part of daily life, but they’re contributing to an unhealthy lifestyle. According to Medline Plus, too much sitting can increase your risk of developing a host of chronic health problems, such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. If you don’t balance your sedentary hours with physical activity, it’s also possible to get heart disease, high cholesterol and osteoporosis.
To stay healthy, aim to get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Activity ideas include power walking, water aerobics and tennis. If you sit for longer periods of time, get up every 30-45 minutes to move your legs and stretch. While you’ll reinvigorate your body and mind, you’ll also promote blood circulation throughout your limbs.
6. Spending Too Much Money
If you’re not careful with your budget, monthly subscription services for movies, dining or beauty products can start to add up. Do a quarterly checkup of your finances to see if there’s anything you can cut. If you haven’t used a recurring service in more than a few months, check its cancellation policy.
Other helpful financial tips include reviewing your monthly transactions for unnecessary expenditures and using a banking app to help you track your purchases. Consider using coupons or digital apps that allow you to earn cash back when you shop. Think before charging a purchase, especially if you’re incurring months of interest on a big ticket item.
7. Skipping Breakfast
Everyone’s been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet many people still don’t eat in the morning. Busy schedules and a lack of an a.m. appetite are often to blame. Some people follow diets that don’t allow them to eat before noon.
While it may take a little extra effort to have breakfast, it’s worth the time spent. Eating healthy in the morning can help you meet your weight loss goals. Skipping breakfast can contribute to more grogginess and lack of energy when you’re driving to work or getting ready. If you have enough time for a healthy and balanced breakfast at the table, make a quinoa breakfast bowl, a big helping of oatmeal or a plate of savory avocado toast. You can also consider taking something to go. Breakfast bars, trail mix and smoothies are just a few of the delicious and portable ways to enjoy something nutritious in the morning. By eating something that works for your appetite and lifestyle, you’ll have more energy to start out—and you’ll begin to notice that you feel better throughout the day.
Creating a Healthy Lifestyle
Part of creating a healthy lifestyle is knowing what to avoid. If you engage in any of the unhealthy habits above, don’t feel guilty. Instead, take steps to change your routine or way of thinking. Make small changes to start, set small goals and then work on being consistent. If you’re patient and persistent, you can replace your unhealthy habits with better ones.