Vices- we all have them. And there's nothing wrong with seeking comfort or wanting to escape from time to time.
But bad habits add up quickly, and if you rely on them to cope with your emotions, you risk falling into a vicious cycle of avoiding your psychological needs. Over time, this can lead to an increased risk of various health problems, both emotionally and physically.
Defining Bad Habits: Health and Wellness
What defines a bad habit? It isn't always so easy to distinguish when a certain coping strategy becomes problematic.
For example, you know smoking cigarettes is bad for you. You recognize that it's associated with poorer health and may increase the likelihood of developing lung cancer.
But what about a habit that's conventionally considered healthy? When does, for example, a standard exercise routine become more insidious? When do you need to examine your habits and their role in your overall health?
Habits are typically considered problematic when you:
compulsively rely on them to soothe difficult emotions
feel irritable or anxious when you can't engage in that habit
struggle with paying attention to other priorities or needs
continue engaging in the habit despite health problems
spend excessive time or energy engaging in the habit
At this point, habits may be more compulsive or addictive in nature. This pattern can easily lead to exacerbated anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues.
Here are some well-known bad habits worth reflecting on in your life:
Spending Too Much Time on Social Media
Are you guilty of nonstop scrolling? You're certainly not alone. Research shows that, on average, we spend about 2.5 hours a day online. This number tends to be much higher among teenagers and young adults.
Social media isn't inherently bad. There's no doubt that these platforms provide an excellent medium for staying in touch with friends, reading the news, and finding humorous videos.
But social media becomes far more nefarious when you start considering how it may affect your stress level. For example, do you struggle with comparing your life to other people when you go online? Even if you know that filters and selective editing create the illusion of a flawless image, do you feel bad about yourself after scrolling?
Social media often coincides with poor self-esteem, depression, and low impulse control. If your screen time makes you feel anxious, consider cutting down on your use or detoxing from your habit altogether.
Suppressing Your Emotions
How often do you hold back from saying what you really feel?
If you're like many people, you probably struggle to identify and express your emotions. And even though we all cycle through various emotions throughout the day, our own fears and internal messages often prevent us from coping with them appropriately.
Suppressing your emotions doesn't just affect your mental health. They can have a significant impact on your physical well-being, causing digestive issues, body tension, high blood pressure, and dysregulated blood sugar levels. These effects can lead to serious health problems.
The next time you're holding back how you feel, pause. Consider what's happening within your body. Meditate for a moment if you need to get in touch with how you feel. Then, think about how you can either release or express that emotion appropriately.
You don't want to be the person shouting at the cashier because they won't accept your expired coupon, but you also don't want to be biting your tongue all the time. It is critical to find a happy medium with your feelings. Remember that emotions are not problematic when managed appropriately.
Avoiding Setting Boundaries
Boundaries- you know you need to set them, but do you? Or do you secretly seethe with resentment every time you oblige to someone's request?
Good habits require paying attention to your needs. Spend some time reflecting on how you interact with family members and friends. Remember that no is a complete sentence.
You may have to get used to sitting with some feelings of discomfort or guilt after setting a boundary. This is normal. People may resist your change, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't overlook the health benefits of asserting your needs. It's a bad habit to cater to everyone else before you pay attention to yourself!
Not Getting Enough Sleep
There is extensive research showing a clear relationship between poor sleep and compromised health. Sleep deprivation may exacerbate high blood pressure, compromised energy levels, memory loss, and poor mental health outcomes. You are also more prone to suffer from sadness and anxiety if you are sleep-deprived, which can lead to more health problems.
Set a firm sleep plan to follow, especially on weekends, to prevent slipping into this habit. Creating a sleep routine can ensure you get adequate sleep and keep your body on track so you can get the most out of your rest. Aim to go to bed at the same time each night.
Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep to feel rested. However, you may need to experiment with what works for you.
Eating Too Much Of The Wrong Things
Fast food. Too much red meat. Excessive soda or diet soda. High levels of saturated fat. Junk food binges.
You are what you eat, and if you consistently choose foods with unhealthy ingredients, your diet might be impacting you more than you realize. You're also at a higher risk for weight gain, which may lead to heart disease, liver damage, and a compromised immune system.
When it comes to optimizing your eating habits and embracing a healthy diet, it's okay to start slowly. Commit to changing one habit at a time.
For example, focus on choosing more whole grains. Or drinking one glass of water before each meal. If you're one of those breakfast skippers who gorges later in the day, make it a point to eat within two hours of waking up. Practice eating mindfully to check in with your body. Try to stop eating once you notice yourself getting too full.
Spending Too Much Time Inside
If you're like most people, you spend the majority of your time behind a computer screen.
Getting your daily dose of nature, on the other hand, is critical to maintaining good mental health. Breathing in the fresh air and feeling the sun on your skin are beneficial to your mental health. Staying indoors can keep you in the dark for long periods of time- especially if you are exposed to high amounts of blue light.
Getting out of the house can help you feel better and sleep better. You may also be experiencing depression symptoms as a result of a vitamin D deficiency caused by spending too much time indoors. Going outside will assist you in combating this as well as improving your general health.
A bad habit that's often praised is working compulsively. In high-functioning circles, people tend to admire those who grind and grind and grind.
But this lifestyle can wreak havoc on your mental health. Overworking makes it hard to get enough sleep and quality time with loved ones. It often causes people to push their passions to the side.
Moreover, if the nature of your work is stressful, you're setting yourself up for the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health risks. In addition, you may use mood-altering substances to cope with your stress, thus increasing the potential for drug or alcohol abuse.
We're all guilty of putting off unwanted tasks. You know you should put the laundry away, but you just want to watch one more show. You know you should study for your test, but you really need a nap.
Procrastinating is a manifestation of anxiety. But it's a bad habit that often fuels even more anxiety and can trigger a shame cycle.
Consider the impact of procrastinating on your daily routine. Then, consider how you can break this bad habit. Maybe it means rewarding yourself more frequently. Perhaps it entails setting limits and avoiding distractions as often as possible.
You aren't a failure because you procrastinate. We live in a world with excessive temptation, and companies spend obscene amounts of time and money focused on hooking you into their products. But you have far more autonomy over your unhealthy habits than you realize!
How do you talk to yourself every day? What do you say when you make a mistake?
If you're like many people, you're probably fairly cynical. But you may not realize that this self-loathing is actually a very big deal.
For example, let's say you're focused on losing weight. You want to feel more comfortable in your skin and have more energy. But there's a nagging voice telling you that you can't succeed.
What happens? You sabotage yourself! You don't believe in yourself, so you hit the fast food drive-thru the moment you feel stressed. You think others will make fun of you for exercising, so you don't try to change your sedentary lifestyle. In other words, you maintain homeostasis, despite your desire to break bad habits.
How We Help With Breaking Bad Habits
At Resurface Group, we provide comprehensive mental health treatment for individuals from all backgrounds. We understand that it's hard to break bad habits- but we believe that the right support, guidance, and structure can make all the difference in improving your well-being.
Contact us today to learn more!