6 Harmful Health Habits and How to Change Them
Nurture healthy habits for a longer, healthier, and happier life.
Living a long, healthy life is an ideal that most of us strive to reach in one way or another. We only get one life on this beautiful earth, so we need to take care of our health and build healthy habits so it lasts as long as possible. You can’t always control every aspect of your health, but when you’re as healthy as you can be, you’re more likely to feel happier and live longer and you’ll be able to do more.
You’ll have tons of opportunities to fill your life with memories of stunning views, amazing adventures, and all the unique people you met along the way. Whether you travel the world or stay in your hometown doesn’t matter; all that matters is that you live the healthiest, happiest life you can!
Part of living the healthiest life possible is paying attention to your daily habits. When practiced every day, even small habits can have a big impact on your health, so it’s important to make sure you’re nurturing habits that will, in turn, nurture your mental and physical health. Sometimes, however, daily habits that hurt our health seem insignificant or have become so ingrained in us that we don’t realize they aren’t healthy.
To help you get started making the changes you need to live a full, healthier life, we’ve included 6 harmful health habits that you might be practicing right now and how you can change them.
1. Sitting Hunched at a Desk All Day
Several health issues result from spending your day hunched at your desk. Sitting all day in and of itself can cause weight gain and increase your risk of certain health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, blood clots, and worsening mental health. Hunching in your seat all day is even worse since it can also cause neck, back, and shoulder pain. If you have a desk job, however, what can you do about this? Thankfully, you can do more about it than you might think!
One easy step is to simply invest in an ergonomic chair that gives your back the support it needs to improve your posture and eliminate a lot of your pain. You should also try to get moving every 30 minutes or so. Make a point to pace when you’re on the phone, take a five-minute walk around the office, or invest in an adjustable desk that allows you to work sitting or standing. Even just a few minutes of moving, walking, and stretching interspersed throughout your day will reduce your pain and help you stay healthier in the long run.
2. Falling Asleep Before Taking Care of Your Teeth
After a long day, it can be tempting to fall into bed and go to sleep without taking care of your teeth. It’s important for your oral and overall health that you stick to a good oral hygiene routine. When you’re not cleaning your teeth regularly, bacteria can quickly begin forming a film on your teeth called plaque. In as little as 24 hours, plaque can mineralize and harden into tartar, which still contains bacteria and can’t be removed during your regular, at-home oral hygiene routine. Bacteria can also make their way underneath your gumline and into your bloodstream, so a great oral hygiene routine is vital for lowering your risk of developing health issues like heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
The good news is sticking to a good routine is simple. All you need to do is brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, floss at least once a day, and use mouthwash every day. It only takes a few minutes every day, so it’s incredibly easy to plan around. Scheduling a checkup at your Wayland dental office is also an important part of keeping your teeth and gums healthy. You only need to visit once every six months, and scheduling in advance will help you integrate your visit into a busy schedule. Despite its small impact on your day, a great oral hygiene routine like this has a lasting impact on your oral and overall health. It’s beyond worth it to build the habit into your everyday routine.
3. Keeping a Snack in Front of You
Snacking constantly throughout the day can affect your weight and, through that, your overall health as well as your oral health. When you’re snacking throughout the day, it’s not just you who has access to food constantly; the bacteria in your mouth do too. You should allow time between snacks to let the acidity level of your mouth recover.
This doesn’t mean you can’t snack at all, but it does mean it’s wise to plan your snacks in advance. Instead of keeping an open bag of chips or a can of nuts on your desk to munch on throughout the day, bring a prepackaged snack or two you take out at a specific time. This makes it easier to portion control and maintain a healthy weight while giving your mouth the time it needs to recover between meals, lowering your risk of developing cavities and/or gum disease.
4. Forgetting Breakfast
There’s an old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That saying has some merit, as studies show that eating breakfast helps keep you healthy! When you start your day off with a healthy breakfast, you get a good boost of energy, but it’s also good for your metabolism and food cravings in general. You’ll be less hungry later in the day, making you less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks and leading to better-portioned meals spread throughout the day. When you skip breakfast, though, your metabolism can slow and you’ll consume most of your calories later in the day, making it harder to burn them off.
Because of this, eating a healthy breakfast gets your day off to a good start and is a small, easy way to help manage your weight and lower your risk of heart disease. Try setting your alarm a few minutes earlier to fit breakfast in, or you can even prepare a healthy breakfast the night before if you know you’ll be tight on time. Breakfast is an important meal, but it doesn’t have to take you a long time to eat or prepare, just do your best to make sure you’re eating it!
5. Staying Up Too Late
If you’re regularly staying up late and getting up early, you’re likely not getting enough sleep. This doesn’t just leave you feeling tired and grumpy; it can have a very real impact on your mental and physical health. In contrast, getting enough sleep works wonders for your health! It can reduce depression and anxiety, improve concentration, strengthen your immune system, and help you maintain a healthy weight. It also helps prevent health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. After all, sleep is how your body rests and recovers from the day, so you need plenty of it! Generally, adults need somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.
Setting a regular bedtime for yourself helps you fall asleep faster and easier and ensures you’re getting enough sleep consistently. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, there are many methods you can try to get the rest you need. A few tips include cutting back on caffeine, especially during the later part of the day, practicing yoga or meditation before bed, reading, or investing in a good pillow or mattress that will keep you comfortable throughout the night. When it comes down to it, sleep is a basic need for everyone. You might be surprised by how amazing you’ll feel when you start getting enough of it every night!
6. Pushing Through Stress
Stress isn’t always a bad emotion. In its ideal, short-lived form, it can keep our minds active and encourage us to do things we need or want to do. When stress becomes constant, however, it’s a very real issue for our mental and physical health, especially if we try to simply push through it. Long-term, sustained stress levels can lead to increased anxiety and depression, stomach issues, muscle tension, frequent headaches, weight gain, insomnia, heart disease, and more. Addressing and managing your stress is an important part of living a long, healthy, and happy life.
Thankfully, there are a lot of stress management options you can try. This means it might take a little trial and error to find the right method for you, but we know there’s something out there! Great ways to reduce your stress include cutting back on a few responsibilities, implementing yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises into your daily routine, letting yourself have fun with friends or family regularly, and setting aside time for relaxing hobbies like reading, journaling, or painting every day.
It’s more than okay to set aside time to decompress and relax; in fact, it’s necessary! Trust us, everyone needs this time, even the people you consider to be calm and steady. Plus, the results simply speak for themselves. When you set aside time to manage your stress levels, you’ll feel healthier and happier than ever, and you’ll probably live longer.
Implement new habits to feel like your best self.
With a few healthy habits, taking care of your mental and physical health and safeguarding it for the future won’t seem so hard. It can even become second nature! If you’d like to get started by taking care of your oral health with preventive dentistry or if you’re experiencing problems like tooth pain, feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sexton at any time.