Monday 7 June 2021

These 6 Common Habits Are Destroying Your Life - Turn things around before it’s too late.


Every nation, people and culture has certain tendencies

that they tend to share. It might be foods that most people enjoy or sports that everyone follows. There are also habits that people in society tend to share with others from their culture. Sometimes those habits are healthy ones such as a tendency to bike to work rather than drive or a cultural preference for vegetables or outdoor activity. Other times, those habits are unhealthy, and the consequences of them plague the entire society. When that happens, people may not even realize that they are practicing terribly unhealthy habits because everyone around them is engaged in similar activity. Just because something is common, popular or accepted, however, does not mean that it is a good idea. Regardless of how many people share a habit, it can still be extremely unhealthy and one that you need to break. Smoking, after all, was once overwhelmingly common. That did not stop it from giving people lung cancer and destroying their bodies. The same sort of situation continues to exist today with popular habits that do serious damage to people. Here are six common habits that are destroying your life, and how to break them.

Burning the Midnight Oil

The myth that sleep is for the weak might be the most damaging falsehood ever invented. Frighteningly, a decent chunk of the world believes it to be true. The idea certainly has a stranglehold on the West. Westerners, as a general rule, are sleep deprived, and Americans rank near or at the top when it comes to sleep deprivation. Children as young as 10 years old brag about how little sleep they get at night. 

Sleeping is associated with laziness, so many people burn the midnight oil in order to look like they have a strong work ethic. Others stay up late in order to have at least a couple hours to do what they enjoy rather than what they have to do to pay the bills. Regardless of the reasons, shorting your sleep is a disaster for you mental and physical health. Instead of staying up late, work hard while you are in the office and make it a point to go to bed at a reasonable time. If you have to bring work home, set a hard deadline for yourself for when you need to be finished. This will help you get to sleep on time and motivate you to work harder up until that hard stopping point. 

Constant Coffee

Given that the West is chronically sleep deprived, it should come as no surprise that the West runs on coffee. People drink coffee in the morning in order to make it to work without crashing their cars. They have another cup of coffee in the afternoon in order to beat the 3:00 p.m. slump. Then, many people drink yet another cup of coffee after dinner. It is so common that most restaurants will ask you if you want a cup of coffee when you are done with your meal. 

Even if the afternoon and evening coffees are decaf, drinking coffee all day is still a terrible idea. Even decaf coffee has some caffeine in it, and that limited amount is still enough to keep you from sleeping well at night. In addition, coffee leaves you dehydrated and quickly causes people to form a caffeine addiction. Then, when you want to kick the coffee habit or cut back, you find you cannot.

Swap out your afternoon and evening coffee for a cup of caffeine free herbal tea. Flavors such as peppermint and citrus will give you an artificial energy boost not unlike coffee, but they do not contain caffeine.

Sitting All Day

Sitting has been called the new smoking. It is certainly as common, pervasive and accepted as smoking once was in America. Sitting is also nearly as damaging to your health as those cigarettes. With the rise of office jobs, most people spend all day sitting in a chair at a computer. The long hours spent in an unnatural position, chairs do not exist in the natural world, wreak havoc on your body. Your hip-flexors shorten, your body begins to store fat around your organs instead of under your skin, your circulatory system suffers and the very shape of your spine changes. All of this is made even worse by the fact that most people’s leisure activities involve sitting as well. The sitting epidemic has become so bad that there are numerous cases of people’s muscles getting so little use that they simply stop functioning. People who suffer from this end up losing the ability to use some of the largest muscles in their body. Their response to this is, of course, to simply spend more time sitting.

Stop spending all your time in a chair. Get up and walk around every hour or so. If you are at home, walk around the neighborhood. If you are at work, walk down the hall to get a drink at the water fountain or stand and stretch at your desk. Make it a point to use your muscles before you, very literally, lose them. 

Endless Electronics

People today have become almost surgically attached to their phones, tablets, computers, smart-watches and other myriad of electronic devices. While this is an advantage when you need to look up a random piece of information quickly or get lost in an unfamiliar city, constantly being surrounded by electronic devices and connected to the world has done terrible damage to society. People have forgotten how to have face to face conversations. Spouses go on dates together only to spend the entire time staring at their phones and never say a word to each other. Social media has revived the lynch mob and a form of vigilante justice. Vengeful exes and angry coworkers, after all, can ruin a person’s life with one carefully worded lie on Twitter.

Being constantly plugged in to your electronics means that you are missing out on the world around you. Your interpersonal relationships suffer. Your job is usually negatively impacted. You lose sleep, suffer neck and eye strain, develop internet or smartphone addiction and essentially waft your way aimlessly through life. Do not let yourself waste your life staring blankly at a tiny screen. Make it a point to keep the phone stowed away during meals or time with friends, and detox from electronic devices when you can.

Living on Autopilot

It is very easy to simply live your life on autopilot, especially if you are a creature of habit. Falling into this trap, however, means that life will slowly pass you by without really any input from you. Rather than creating the life that you want to live, life will just happen to you along the way. You may find yourself feeling out of control or stuck in a rut. This is because you are not living your life with any sort of purpose. You are simply drifting along, accepting events as they come rather than taking control of your future. 

It is not always easy to get out of the habit of living on autopilot, and the solutions will vary from person to person. One thing that is always helpful, however, is to revisit or rediscover your passions. What really makes you feel alive? What matters most to you? Focus on those things and find ways to incorporate them into your life.

Not Setting Goals

When you do not set goals, it is easy to start living on autopilot. Goals are what keep you moving forward and focused. They give you motivation and help you make sure that you are making good use of the time that you have on Earth. Lacking goals leaves you moving through life aimlessly and can leave you floundering when something goes wrong. If you do not have a goal you are working toward, it can be hard to put together a backup plan when you lose your job or get sick.

If you are setting goals but they seem to be doing nothing for you, you might need to pick better goals. Your goals should be things that matter to you personally, not things that everyone else tells you are important. They should also be reasonable and have a specific deadline. Without an end date, a goal is nothing but a dream.

Bad habits are, unfortunately, very common in society. Some of those bad habits are slowly going out of style, so more and more people are trying to break those habits. Other habits continue to remain acceptable, so people continue to practice them. Popularity, however, is no reason to allow bad habits to destroy your life. Break your bad habits and take back control of your life. Who knows, you might even be the trendsetter that reminds society that some of the things it has accepted as normal are actually extremely unhealthy.

Stephanie Hertzenberg is a writer and editor at Beliefnet. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary where she majored in Religious Studies and minored in Creative Writing. She maintains an avid interest in health, history and science.

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