All of us – in one form or another – carry around bad habits. They’re sneaky, insidious things that make gradual changes to your life (usually for the worse).
Habits (bad or good) can affect you physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, professionally, and even sexually. A good habit can improve every area of your life while a bad one can tear down everything important to you.
It’s critical to know which habits need attention and/or correction.
When you think about the bad habits in your life (whatever they may be), you might have some smaller ones on the list like biting your nails, forgetting to call people back, talking too loudly, slouching, clicking your pen non-stop, or maybe saying “I’m sorry” when you haven’t done anything to apologize for (this is one of mine).
Fortunately, these are pretty easy to overcome if you really focus on one at a time. You can implement “tricks” like reminders to return calls or emails, applying disgusting tasting polish to stop nail biting, or even asking a friend to tell you if you’re talking too loud again.
These habits may be annoying to yourself or others but they don’t necessarily affect your health.
It’s the bad habits that lead to financial hardship, legal trouble, relationship struggles, or damage to your physical and mental health that need your immediate (and serious) attention.
The 9 Worst Habits for Your Health
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Substance abuse (illegal or pharmaceutical)
- Tobacco products
- Poor eating and drinking choices (fast food or soda, for example)
- Zoning out on television
- Being a hostage to social media
- Tanning (especially tanning beds)
- Irresponsible spending (gambling or shopping “therapy,” for example)
- Ignoring relationship toxicity
These are the habits that account for a massive amount of stress, sickness, and incarceration in our modern world. Just about every negative human condition can be traced back to one of these 9 seeds that grows into cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, obesity, diabetes, and mental illness such as depression and anxiety.
Coupled with sedentary lifestyles, information overload, and sleep deprivation, it’s easy to see how and why we’re so sick…and painfully sad.
Stress is linked to every major disease due to the systemic inflammation it causes. Lowering your stress (and inflammation) is an excellent “side effect” of kicking bad habits.Stress is linked to every major disease due to the systemic inflammation it causes. #stressfactorClick To Tweet
Beat Bad Habits with Science
A big problem with trying to restructure how we think and behave is that we try to do everything at once. Taking on too much, too fast, is more likely to discourage you.
Don’t set yourself up to fail. Figure out small, manageable goals that are particularly easy to stick to at first. This will make you feel amazing and give you the courage and will power to tackle something a little bit harder.
This is scientifically proven to work.
Remember, you didn’t get a bad habit overnight and it could take anywhere from three weeks (for smaller bad habits) to a year (for bigger ones). Know that going in and plan for it.
You’ll know you’ve kicked a negative mindset when you no longer have to pause and remind yourself to do (or not to do) that particularly activity.You’ll know you’ve kicked a negative mindset when you no longer remind yourself to fix something.Click To Tweet
An Example of Life Change
Let’s use soda as an example. In high school, I knew a young man who drank 5 canned sodas every day. Every single day. That’s 35 sodas a week, and 12,775 sodas every year. He was only seventeen at the time but he was overweight and his teeth were in horrible condition.
In the first month of our sophomore year, he cut back to 4 sodas a day. After winter break (four months later), he cut back to 3 sodas a day. The summer before our junior year (six months later), he was down to 2 and by graduation, he was only drinking 3 sodas per week (and only when he ate out with his friends or family).
He cut his soda consumption by 12,600 cans per year. It took him two years to kick the habit, to gain control over it. Two years to change a mindset he knew would eventually kill him.
Though many of his adult teeth couldn’t be saved, he stopped damage to the others. He lost 75 pounds. It was the only change he made to his life. He didn’t change his eating plan, he didn’t exercise, and he didn’t take vitamins.
Now, I realize that sodas aren’t considered as dangerous as an opiate or tobacco addiction – but the end physical result for both are strangely similar. Both will lead to early mortality, raging health problems, and drastically affect how you look, feel, and think.
You can apply this technique to anything in your life. Adjust it to work for you. Know that you’re not looking for a miracle…just improvement. One day at a time, one minute at a time, until you reach that place where your negative mindset no longer controls your life.
If you overspend, give yourself a slightly smaller spending limit than what you spend now. Not what you can afford (because that’s not stopping your behavior now). Once you consistently stick to it, lower the amount. When you conquer the spending habit, move on to paying off your debt. Then to saving. It’s all about changing how you think.
With alcohol, cut back your drinks by one. Just one drink less than what you usually consume. When you’ve stayed within your boundary for a few weeks, drop your goal by another drink.
This is the method my friend used and the method I’m also using for smoking. It’s also a great method for gradually lowering social media and television hours. Researchers now consider tanning (beds and laying out) an addiction (and responsible for 90% of skin cancers now) so this is another area where you can apply the step-down method.
Regarding toxic relationships, decrease the time or attention you give that person. Little by little, put that person/situation inside a fence. When you start realizing how much better you feel when you’re not around them, it’s going to be easier than you think to close the gate and seal them out of your life forever.
5 Simple Steps to Kicking Your Bad Habits for Good
- Identify your bad habit.
- Make a reasonable action plan to kick it.
- Be consistent, steady, but know there will be days you slip.
- Celebrate your milestones (no matter how small).
- Keep going. If you fail the first time…start again.
Most people can’t sustain extreme methods. It’s not that they don’t want to, it’s just hard sometimes to see around real life, daily stress, and that big elephant in the room that’s calling your name over and over.
Middle ground is okay. Slow progress is still progress. Be honest with yourself but also be kind. Being human means imperfection, moving in reverse now and again rather than forward.
That’s okay. Don’t give up.
One step at a time for as long as it takes to your first goal. Once you hit it, move the finish line. Repeat this process until you have control, until you have what you need.
Until you live the life you deserve…free of bad habits that make you mentally and physically ill.
Live your best life. It can start right now.Live your best life, it can start right now. Remove those bad habits and feel free of negativity.Click To Tweet
Shayne McClendon is an author and positivity practitioner. Shayne believes love crosses all boundaries, social castes, races, genders, and belief systems. If you are lucky enough to find soul-deep love, you should fight for it. Life-certified, reader approved.