2021 is in full swing, and we have a whole list of 21 habits to break this year! We also have tips for how to break them. Read on if you want to better your health and wellness this year!
21 Habits to Break
01. PROLONGED SITTING
Sitting is the new smoking. Many jobs require us to sit for extended periods, causing musculoskeletal problems, increased risk of obesity, blood clots and many other health concerns. If you’re required to sit for long periods of time, get up every hour and move around for a few minutes. Repeat this practice on long car trips also.
02. NOT CHANGING YOUR SHEETS
Changing your bed sheets regularly reduces the amount of fungi, bacteria, pollen, dust mites, pet dander, dead skin cells and even fecal matter that build up in bedding. The National Sleep Foundation states that 91% of people change their sheets every other week. If you sleep naked, have an open sore, eat in bed, sleep with pets, have allergies, go to bed without showering or sweat excessively, it would be a good idea to change sheets more frequently.
03. HOLDING IT
We often teach children to “hold it” if it’s not a convenient time for a bathroom break, but holding urine too long can weaken bladder muscles over time. Weak bladder muscles can lead to an inability to fully empty the bladder or incontinence. Holding it for long periods of time can also cause urinary tract infections due to bacteria buildup. When you gotta go, go!
04. SECOND HELPINGS
Portion size is critical for appropriate nutrient intake and weight management. Today’s portions are significantly larger than they were fifty years ago. Manage your portions and skip seconds.
05. BITING YOUR NAILS
Biting your nails causes more than just stubby nails. It can damage the skin around the nail causing greater risk of infection. Putting your hands in your mouth also increases risk of picking up other infections, including COVID-19.
06. LIMITED WATER CONSUMPTION
Drinking sufficient amounts of water is critical to health in many ways. Especially during the winter, it can be difficult to remember to drink water. Healthy hydration improves mental clarity, skin glow, lubricates joints and organs, and prevents urinary tract infections. Your body’s needs depend on your weight and activity level. The best test for understanding whether you are hydrated enough is the color of your urine, which will ideally be very light yellow to almost clear. Keep a water bottle handy as a visual reminder.
07 EXCESSIVE SCREENTIME
Many jobs require long hours in front of a computer only to be followed with hours at home watching TV or playing on a smartphone. Screen time can negatively affect our mood, interrupt natural sleep patterns, isolate us from family and friends, and strain our eyes. While screen time may be a necessary part of your day, set a daily limit for personal use and stick to it. Connect with friends and family, get outside, or find other hobbies.
08. STRESS EATING
Stress eating can lead to weight gain, tummy troubles, jaw clenching and unhealthy food choices. If stress is getting the best of you, seek alternative quick relief methods such as a walk, meditation, stretch, jumping jacks, calling a friend or a few moments of silence. These and other methods can reduce stress without the unintended side effects.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can visit nationaleatingdisorders.org for more resources, help and support or call the National Eating Disorders Association’s
09. SKIPPING YOUR ANNUAL CHECK-UP
Every person, regardless of age, is encouraged to have an annual wellness check-up with your provider. While you may feel healthy and strong, it is helpful to establish a relationship with a provider so they can understand your personal and family health history. Establishing a baseline when you are healthy also helps them identify if something is unusual for you. Preventive exams often catch problems earlier, which can make treatment options more effective. If you don’t have a provider, ask friends and family for recommendations and call your insurance to find out who is in the network.
Annual preventive exams are often covered at 100%. Consult your insurance for more details.
Smoking prevalence has decreased but the risks have not. Visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com for information on Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) and resources for quitting. There are now many options to help you quit, including talking to a quit coach, online counseling, group support, text program, email program and social media support. CALL 1-877-U-CAN-NOW to get started.
11. BLASTING MUSIC
Listening to loud sounds such as music can cause hearing loss. This happens through the damage of hair cells within the ear. Loud noises can also damage nerves within the ear. Turn the volume down now so you don’t have to turn the volume up later!
12. MINIMAL SLEEP
When life is busy, sleep often suffers. Make sleep a priority and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. When you are more rested, your body and mind are operating at optimal capacity, allowing tasks to be easier and more pleasurable. Create a healthy bedtime routine and stick to it. Your body will soon learn that you are giving it the rest it needs.
13. NOT EXERCISING
Exercise benefits our physical, emotional and mental health. Making it a top priority will help keep you accountable. Whether it’s adding in a daily walk, lifting weights, or playing a pick-up game of basketball with your buddies, make sure to get that heart pumping and the sweat dripping. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity per week plus two days of strength training.
14. SKIPPING THE SUNSCREEN
Florida has the second highest incidence rate of melanoma in the United States. Approximately
one in ten Floridians have been diagnosed with skin cancer. Ninety-one percent of high school students
do not wear sunscreen regularly when they are in the sun for an hour or more on a sunny day. Wearing sunscreen, protective clothing, and minimizing sun exposure particularly during peak midday hours are simple steps that can prevent future problems.
15. MESSY WORKPLACE
A clean and tidy workspace provides a multitude of benefits including work efficiency, enhanced employee morale, less stress, increased focus, better organization and sending a positive message to coworkers. Decluttering and deep cleaning regularly will keep your space healthy for both body and mind. Enhance your productivity and your peace with a sweep of your work area.
16. EXCESS SUGAR
The average American adult consumes approximately 77 grams of sugar per day, or three times the recommended amount for women. This adds up to 60 pounds of sugar per year! American children are even worse – their daily average is 81 grams per day, adding up to 65 pounds per year! The daily recommendation for added sugar is 9 teaspoons (36 grams) per day for men and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women. Consuming excess sugar means lots of extra calories, which can lead to weight gain. Read labels carefully and look for ways to reduce your sugar intake.
17. NOT CHANGING THE AIR FILTERS
Your home requires regular changes to the air filter. Air filters help reduce dust, pollen, mold, pet dander, smoke and other irritants in the air. Over time, these irritants can cause respiratory illness and cancer. Babies, young children, older adults, and those with asthma and allergies are particularly susceptible. Check the recommendations of your system, but most experts recommend changing filters approximately every three months, or more often if you’re doing renovations or dusty projects.
18. SLEEPING WITH YOUR CONTACTS IN
While many extended wear contacts claim to be safe for overnight wear, you may want to think twice before hitting the sheets. Sleeping in your contacts blocks oxygen from reaching the cornea, which can lead to corneal neovascularization. This inflammation could potentially lead to not being able to wear contacts anymore. Wearing contacts overnight also increases the risk of eye infection, potential for eye ulcers, vision loss, need for corneal transplant surgery, contact lens acute red eye (CLARE) and the possibility of the lenses no longer fitting well. Get up and pop out the contacts before your head hits the pillow. Your eyes will thank you!
19. DRINKING SODA
While many people believe diet soda is a good alternative, all sodas are full of chemical additives that are detrimental to our health. Regular sodas are heavily loaded with sugar while diet sodas utilize sugar substitutes. Water and tea are healthier alternatives. Add fruit, ginger, cucumbers or carbonation for some extra excitement.
20. STAYING INDOORS
Time spent in nature has proven to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. There is an evolving field called ecotherapy that seeks to better understand the relationship between outdoor time and improved mental health. Being outdoors allows us the opportunity to hit the pause button on the chaos of the everyday, see and feel beauty, and understand the connections of all living organisms. Experts recommend anywhere from 20-30 minutes a day, three days a week to regular three day weekends in the woods. The idea is to have outdoor time become a regular part of the routine for improved mental health.
Busy schedules have many people rushing through life, flitting from one activity to the next, often completing many tasks at once. All this rushing has caused us to be impatient and miss the beauty in the everyday. Rushing also often means we are distracted, causing greater risk of injury or error. Rushing wreaks havoc on mental health by making us feel like we have to keep up. Take a deep breath. Intentionally slow down. Drive the speed limit. Focus on one task at a time and be mindful while completing it. Not only will slowing down improve your level of calm (once you have accepted that it is allowed to do so), it will also help lower your heart rate and blood pressure, minimize stress eating, tummy troubles and many other physical symptoms brought on by chronic stress. Relax, let go and slow down.