Kick your bad habits to the curb!
In January we start off determined to keep those resolutions we made in the afterglow of the holidays. But by the time February has rolled around, we often find that we’ve slipped back into some of our old, not-so-healthy ways. It’s not easy to do – changing behavior that’s ingrained in us can take a lot of effort, especially when the stresses of life make that behavior seem very appealing. Who hasn’t opted for a second slice of cake instead of a brisk walk after a particularly hard or emotionally demanding day?
The good news is it’s never too late to renew your commitment to living a healthier, happier life, and to kick your bad habits to the curb. It’s important to keep trying, because those bad habits are actually hurting you.
Here are 5 common bad habits and how to break them:
As we discussed in our article on National Hot Breakfast Month, that first meal of the day is important because, as the name suggests, breakfast breaks the overnight fasting period and replenishes your supply of glucose and other important nutrients that your body needs to keep your energy levels up through the day.1 It also kick starts your metabolism and helps you burn calories all day long.2 Even if you’re not particularly hungry first thing in the morning, try having a little mix of foods that have carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and fiber. For inspiration, check out these 18 healthy breakfast ideas from Real Simple.
Staying up too late
Sometimes we have no choice but to burn the midnight oil, but whenever possible, go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Science has shown that our bodies function using a complex biological sleep system triggered by light, and forcing an artificial schedule by going to bed too late can impact your health.4 The most restorative, deep sleep happens between 11p.m. – 3a.m., so if you go to sleep too late you’ll deprive your body of some of the benefits of this healing sleep. For more information about the importance of sleep, read our article on why you need that important slumber time.
Being socially isolated
As we age, it’s easy to live an increasingly solitary lifestyle, especially if we are retired, living alone, and not physically close to other family members. But it’s important to your health to stay socially connected as you age. Aside from just feeling good, being social may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and some cancers, and can even boost your immune system.5 For some great suggestions for staying social as you age, read our article on staying in touch.
Chances are you already know why smoking is bad for you, but in case you need a reminder, According to the American Heart Association6, smoking:
- Is the most preventable cause of death in the United States
- Is linked to about 90% of lung cancers in the United States
- Accounts for almost one third of deaths from coronary heart disease
- Increases your risk for cancer of the bladder, throat, mouth, kidneys, cervix, and pancreas
If you want to renew your commitment to quitting, check out our article on butting out for some useful resources.
According to Lifespan Fitness7:
- Physical inactivity may contribute to anxiety and depression.
- Physical inactivity has been shown to be a risk factor for certain cardiovascular diseases.
- People who engage in more physical activity are less likely to develop coronary heart disease.
- People who are more active are less likely to be overweight or obese.
- Sitting too much may cause a decrease in skeletal muscle mass.
- Physical inactivity is linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.
For some great advice on how to get more activity into your day, read our article to help you get moving.
The most important thing to remember when you’re trying to make a lifestyle change or break an established bad habit is that it is going to take some effort, so be kind to yourself if you slip up. Every day is a new opportunity to do better, so put the past behind you and start with a renewed commitment every morning. Focus on the benefits of that healthy behavior, reward yourself when you reach milestones, and celebrate every small step you take towards a healthier, happier you.
For more advice to help you kick your bad habits, including 12 practical steps to get you going in the right direction, visit Reader’s Digest.
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