Let’s talk about bad habits. No, not the hit song released by superstar musician Ed Sheeran. We’re talking about the little things you do every day that are slowly chipping away at your quality of life and personal well-being.
When looking for a featured image for this article — I noted that almost every photo under “bad habits” showed an individual smoking. Smoking is awful for you and a filthy habit — but there are SO many bad habits that will take a person down a rabbit hole faster than smoking will.
The bad habits listed in this piece are “light” bad habits, easily changed to better your life.
This short list doesn’t take into account drug use, sleeping too long, going everywhere late (tardiness), driving too fast, or being distracted like an idiot (my brother was hit on his bike by a cell phone driver) — allowing yourself to dislike a person based on gender, race, or any other social issue you perceive as “incorrect.” The social issues that we face at this time in history are all bad habits that we will want to work hard to erase in our lives.
Any tribal prejudice can be changed in our own lives. Things like discriminatory behaviors in the workplace or anywhere else need to be addressed in our own life because we want to change — not because society is forcing something upon us. Behaviors or attitudes toward out-groups based on in-group thought should be faced squarely in ourselves — they are bad habits, and you can change them.
Habits come in many shapes and sizes. These range from your regular morning routine to the nervous ticks that get you through the workday. Some habits are beneficial, like refilling your water bottle often to remind you to stay hydrated. Others are not so great, like biting your fingernails, chewing on your hair, or talking too fast when you’re nervous.
There are some bad habits that are relatively harmless. However, there are others that can seriously be putting you behind in the race of life. This list outlines some of the most common and detrimental habits that can snowball into significant problems — but note — most of these bad habits are an easy fix.
1. Staying Up Too Late
Sleep is an essential part of everyday life. Without proper sleep, it’s incredibly difficult to function. Just think about the last time you worked a shift after a rough night. Did you find it difficult to remain focused and motivated? Just imagine how you would feel after several consecutive nights of little sleep.
The common culprit when it comes to tiredness and fatigue is a bad nighttime routine. Without planning to, you’ll end up watching Netflix for too long or scrolling on your phone way past your bedtime. Soon your alarm will be set for only five hours, and you’ve already set yourself up for failure in the morning.
To fix this habit, you need to exhibit a little more discipline. Set a bedtime for yourself and stick to it. If you really have to, consider setting up a personal schedule that covers everything from brushing your teeth to turning off the lights. As you successfully get more sleep, you should notice an increase in energy and morale.
2. Scrolling for Too Long
Everyone is guilty of this from time to time. You may have stumbled upon this article because you’ve been scrolling on your device for too long. Technology is a wonderful addition to our lives, but it’s also dangerously addictive. A lot of time is wasted on screen time when it could be used for so many greater things.
This isn’t to say that you should cut electronics out of your life completely. Social media does provide some high-quality entertainment and helps you stay connected to friends and family. However, you should be actively looking for ways to moderate your screen time better. You can download an app or use internal features that record and limit your screen time.
Another potential solution is to try multitasking. If you want to scroll through TikTok, try doing so on a stationary bicycle. This way, you can enjoy those funny videos you love so much while simultaneously getting some beneficial exercise. You can get really creative, like setting up your favorite YouTube stream while cooking in the kitchen or leaving your phone in a different room while at the dinner table.
3. Compulsive Snacking
This bad habit became a problem for many during the peak of Covid-19. When working from home, the temptation to sneak to the kitchen to grab a snack was always lingering. Sure, this might’ve helped keep you afloat during a very uncertain time, but it may have developed into a questionable habit leading into the future.
Compulsive snacking can quickly ruin even the most well-balanced of diets. You’re adding extra, unplanned calories that can lead to weight gain or even an unbalanced blood sugar level. As your physical health deteriorates, you’ll find it more difficult to complete regular daily activities.
There’s nothing wrong with having a snack from time to time. As with most habits, you need to exhibit some self-control. Try to incorporate your snacks into your meal planning, so your nutritional habits aren’t compromised. You can also purchase healthier snacks that contain fewer sugars and fats, which can be worrisome.
4. Slouching at Your Desk
A lot of work today is done sitting at a desk at a computer. In fact, that might be where you’re sitting right now. If that’s the case, take a moment to reflect on your posture. Is your back hunched over? How is your neck positioned?
When you’re young, bad posture doesn’t seem to affect you at all. Teenagers slouch all the time, after all, with very few apparent consequences. As you get older, however, even slight deviations from proper posture can cause pain and discomfort that derail your productivity and quality of life. Crane your neck over your laptop for too long, and you’ll be feeling stiff for the rest of the week.
Try putting up a post-it note at your workspace to remind yourself to sit up straight. A conscious effort can make quite a significant difference. You can also purchase ergonomic equipment that forces you to improve your posture. Ergonomic desk chairs, for example, work best with a straight back. A monitor stand can raise your screen to eye level, so you’re no longer straining your neck while at the computer.
5. Grinding Your Teeth
Teeth grinding isn’t usually a habit that you’re aware of. Most people with a teeth-grinding problem do so at night when they’re asleep. However, just because you’re not aware of teeth grinding doesn’t mean you’re not being affected by it.
If you often wake up with a headache, this could be a sign that you’re grinding your teeth in the night. Dealing with headaches is never fun, and looking for ways to eliminate them should be a top priority. You may also be sleeping poorly due to teeth grinding, causing you to wake up without feeling well-rested.
Consider contacting your dentist to see if they can spot signs of teeth grinding and help you overcome this nighttime habit. They may help you create a night guard that will protect your teeth from grinding together at night. For an at-home solution, over-the-counter pain medication and warm compresses can help reduce inflammation and pain in the jaw.
This may just be the worst bad habit that a person can have. It can lead to the development of a lot of other bad habits. Self-sabotaging can be defined as getting in the way of your own success and development, whether intentional or otherwise.
There are many reasons why people might self-sabotage. It could be due to a lack of self-esteem or a coping mechanism to deal with past trauma. Individuals begin to think incorrectly that they don’t deserve success and happiness. They justify poor actions due to this, turning to alcohol, video game addictions, and even simple laziness to try and fill an empty void.
If you’re a chronic self-saboteur, consider contacting a therapist who can help you. They are willing to listen to your worries and concerns and walk you through helpful recovery steps. There are also resources that can be found online that can assist you in preventing a self-sabotaging habit from developing.
Ed Sheeran was right about one thing. Bad habits lead to late nights, and not in a good way. One bad habit can ruin your sleep schedule, mental health, and even your career. Keep an eye out for any poor habits that are forming so you can keep your mental and physical health on point.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Ann Perkas; Pexels; Thank you!
Student at UC Berkeley, currently working on a degree in Electrical Engineering/Computer Sciences and Business Administration. Experienced in CSX, productivity management, and chatbot implementation.