Correct them now to improve your life.
Your alarm goes off at 6 AM sharp, and you reluctantly climb out of bed to get ready for work. At least it’s Friday. Unfortunately, you aren’t even excited for the upcoming weekend, because although your day has just begun, you already feel awful.
For weeks now, you’ve been forced to work late into the night, munching on snack foods and sipping energy drinks just to stay awake and entertained. You feel consistently awful, and you know that you can’t go on like this.
As hard as it might be to admit, you’ve got to make some changes, and fast. A number of unhealthy habits have become part of your daily routine, and they are leading you down a path of constant stress and exhaustion.
Unfortunately, this is a feeling we all can relate to at times. Whenever college finals week rolled around, I found myself in the exact situation I just described. I didn’t sleep enough, I ate poorly, and I made a number of other mistakes that did more harm than good.
Luckily, we all have the power to correct some of these habits, and change our lives for the better. Thus, here are five unhealthy habits that will make you feel consistently awful, and some simple tips to correct them and feel your best.
1. Sleeping Like This
If you are neglecting sleep every night, many aspects of your life are going to take a serious hit, and your overall health will be negatively impacted in a number of ways.
In fact, Harvard Medical states that:
“In the short term, a lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.”
Therefore, even a few nights of poor sleep will start to impact how you feel overall.
The Fix: Set a goal for how many hours you want to sleep each night. Go to bed a little earlier every evening, and focus on getting a little more sleep than you did the previous night. By taking this gradual approach, you’ll be less likely to stay up for hours tossing and turning, and you’ll still eventually reach your sleep goal.
2. Working or Stressing Too Much
Everyone has stress in their life. And while some stress is inevitable, it’s also very easy to add extra unnecessary stress to your life.
I did this with my school work in college. I was so fixated on getting perfect grades that I overstressed about every single assignment and test. This led to overworking myself by studying way more than I needed to just to try and ensure I didn’t miss a single question.
In reality, adding unnecessary stress to your life will only hurt you in the long run. According to The American Heart Association:
“Long-term activation of your body’s stress response system, along with prolonged exposure to cortisol and other stress hormones, may put you at risk for health troubles like: digestive problems, anxiety, headaches, depression, sleep problems, weight gain, memory and concentration issues, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.”
The Fix: Don’t stress the small stuff. Try not to overwork yourself. This is easier said than done, but I like to remind myself that whatever I’m stressing about isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things. Taking a moment to acknowledge the people and things in your life that truly matter can help you shift your perspective and stress less about the small stuff.
3. Eating in the Following Way
If you rely mostly on fast food and packaged snacks as your source of fuel each day, you’re never going to feel your best, and you won’t be able to reach your full potential.
Every time I get into the habit of grabbing for convenience foods that are heavily processed, I notice that I’m more tired and less motivated to get my work done. This also leads to decreased productivity.
Harvard Health describes some of the other negative impacts of these foods:
“An ultra-processed food that contains an unevenly high ratio of calories to nutrients may be considered unhealthy. For example, research supports an association between a high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.”
The Fix: By consistently nourishing your body with healthy ingredients, you’ll have more energy, be in a better mood, and feel more motivated to tackle your daily to-do list. If you need to, prepare some easy meals and snacks on the weekend, like a one pan quinoa dish or a simple pasta recipe to set yourself up for a successful week ahead.
4. This Form of Self Sabotage
With the rapid rise of social media, the comparison trap has become a huge issue. You might see photos on your feed of people traveling the world, running 8 miles daily, or working their dream job.
You start thinking negatively about yourself, and you begin to compare your life to someone else’s. However, doing so will only be detrimental for you in the long run.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt
The Fix: Recognize that what you see on social media is a highlight reel of someone’s life. No one’s life is perfect, and comparing your life to a superficial, seemingly flawless online version will only leave you feeling bad about yourself. I suggest unfollowing anyone who makes you feel this way. Only consume content of those who add positive value to your life.
5. Staying Sedentary
This is one of the worst habits for your mental and physical health. Luckily, it’s a pretty easy fix.
When I was commuting back and forth to college last year, I started to become much more sedentary. I spent hours on the road driving, and it took a toll on me. It was boring and monotonous, and it zapped a lot of my energy.
I was also regularly getting up at 4 or 5 am to work on my online shop, so the combination of the commute and lack of sleep made it easy to put moving my body on the back burner.
Unfortunately, doing so will not only make you feel awful, but it can also have severe impacts on your health. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine:
“A large review of studies published in 2015 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that even after adjusting for physical activity, sitting for long periods was associated with worse health outcomes including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer. Sedentary behavior can also increase your risk of dying, either from heart disease or other medical problems.”
Luckily, even if you don’t enjoy structured exercise, you can still move your body and break free of the sedentary lifestyle.
The Fix: Find a form of exercise you enjoy so that you’ll actually stick with it. I love to run, so I make the effort to do it daily. If you don’t like running, you could try swimming, yoga, dance, etc. If you don’t like structured exercise, take a stroll outside. Just get your body moving in any way you can.
The habits we form have an immense impact on how we live our lives. The longer we engage in them, the harder they are to break.
When I got into a routine of sleeping about six hours a night, it became increasingly difficult for me to sleep any longer. Eventually, I said enough is enough, I made a plan, and got back to sleeping a more optimal seven to eight hours. I feel so much better as a result.
If you have also fallen into some unhealthy habits, it’s not too late to change them. Doing so will help you live a healthier, happier life.