I went through a phase in my late 20s where I felt guilty about the way I was living – I knew it wasn’t healthy.
So I decided to make some changes, and surprisingly, it’s the small things that make the biggest difference.
If you’ve found yourself reading this, chances are you too want to form better lifestyle habits…well, you’re in the right place!
As well as sharing research into some of these bad habits, I’ve also added some personal tips that have helped me.
Let’s dive in – If you’re serious about a healthy lifestyle say goodbye to these 8 habits:
1) Eating junk food
Let’s start with the most obvious habit to give up – junk food.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to tell you you’re never allowed to eat a burger again…or stuff your face with pasta, chips, and chocolate.
You can enjoy the junk food you currently eat, just on a much smaller frequency.
Health freaks might tell you otherwise, but I believe everything in moderation is best.
Not to mention, it’s easier to stick to than going cold turkey.
So, if you eat out five days a week, why not reduce it to once or twice? If you love sweets and cakes, make them your treat at the end of the week rather than something you eat daily.
I absolutely love mozzarella dippers. You know, the frozen ones you can buy in most supermarkets. I can destroy 10-15 of them in one sitting easily.
But I also know it’s highly processed, so although I always keep a bag in the freezer, I now limit how many I have and how often I eat them.
Making just this small change to your diet will put you on track for a healthier lifestyle.
2) Lack of physical activity
If you work sitting down like me, chances are your back hurts too.
Even if you have an active job, you still need to ensure you’re getting enough physical activity daily.
I actually read a very interesting article the other day that said just 20 minutes of exercise (i.e., fast walking or jogging) can offset the damage from sitting all day to work.
But it also pointed out the dangers of being sedentary, some of which include:
- Vein-related problems
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
To change this bad habit, you don’t need to join a gym. All you need to do is move more and importantly, stretch!
Make sure you get up at least once an hour to walk around, stretch your muscles, and get your blood circulating.
And while you’re at it, remember that just 20 minutes a day can improve your physical health. Whether you choose to dance in your living room or get out for a run, it doesn’t matter what you do so long as you get your heart pumping.
3) Bad sleep routine
Do you suffer from a lack of sleep? Interrupted sleep?
Honestly, some of the bad habits above and below are probably contributing to that.
But what if I told you that bad sleep doesn’t just make you cranky…it can actually cause things like:
- Poor focus and concentration
- Memory issues
- Risk of diabetes
- Risk of heart disease
- Low sex drive
The list goes on but I think you get the message.
So, if you’re serious about adopting a healthy lifestyle, stop staying up late to scroll on your phone. Stop existing off four hours of sleep every night.
Instead, set a routine and stick to it. Even if it’s tough for the first few nights. Aim for 8 hours.
Sleep in a dark, cool room and avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol for at least a few hours before bedtime.
I personally find that playing brown noise (a smoother version of white noise) on my phone helps drown outside noises so I sleep deeper). Here’s the link to the one I listen to.
4) Smoking and alcohol
For obvious reasons, smoking and alcohol should be avoided. Again, my stance is everything in moderation.
Having the odd glass of wine with a meal isn’t the end of the world, but binge drinking or drinking heavily often is terrible for your body.
It also doesn’t help you sleep, contrary to popular belief, so if you suffer from the above point, check your drinking habits.
And smoking, as we all know, ages you, makes it hard to breathe just going upstairs and can cause numerous cancers.
Now, as someone who has been a smoker on and off for the best part of 10 years, I know how tough it can be to cut out a habit like this.
Generally, I find that you need to replace it with something else.
I.e, every time you feel like smoking, do something to distract yourself. And if your friends pressure you to drink on the weekends, get new friends.
Just kidding, but you should put boundaries in place and be firm about sticking to them.
Your future body will thank you for it!
5) Ignoring stress levels
This next one is something most of us are guilty of doing – not addressing our stress levels.
And hey, life throws a lot at us, especially with rising costs of living, wars, unaffordable housing, and so on.
But rather than live in this state and be surprised when you suffer from burnout, do something before it gets to that point.
- Deep breathing
Can immensely help you manage everyday stressors.
But ultimately, I believe in cutting out stress at the source.
For example, if you’re constantly stressed because of your relationship, maybe it’s worth considering whether it’s right for you or not.
The same goes for work, living conditions, family and friends.
We don’t have to live in a constant state of stress if we’re proactive about finding solutions and other ways of living.
6) Neglecting mental health
Following on from the previous point, stress can severely affect your mental health, as well as other things such as anxiety, social media overload, and childhood trauma/family issues (to name just a few).
The truth is, there’s no point exercising and looking after your body if you’re not going to give your mind the attention and healing it needs.
Recently, with the very confronting coverage of the devastation happening in Gaza, I’ve found myself feeling depressed, upset, and overwhelmed.
Social media can be very confronting, especially when you open someone’s story only to see real images of dying people.
So, I decided to take a break from it. For my mind.
I have a few friends who have done the same, and we’re all feeling better within ourselves for it.
Other people I know are getting help from professionals for their childhood traumas or anxiety, and what a difference it makes.
The moral of this story is to be kind to your mind, and everything else will fall into place.
7) Not drinking enough water
I’m the first to put my hands up and say I don’t drink enough water. It’s not for lack of trying though, but my latest blood tests showed I was mildly dehydrated.
And this can cause a whole host of issues, such as:
- Frequent, consistent headaches
- Decreased focus and concentration
- Frequent dizziness and lightheadedness
- Persistent fatigue and weakness
- Muscle cramps
As the doctor explained, drinking water isn’t enough, we need to eat foods that are high in liquid content, like strawberries, broccoli, melon, and celery.
It can also help to buy one of those funky bottles that encourages you to keep drinking whilst also helping you keep count of how much you’ve had.
8) Drinking too much caffeine
Are you a big lover of coffee? Coke?
I am too, so I feel you on this one.
Again, going back to my motto, everything in moderation. One cup of coffee in the morning won’t kill you, but six a day will do you harm.
The same goes for coke – the odd can here or there is nothing to lose sleep over, but if you’re drinking it on a daily basis, you’re living far from a healthy lifestyle.
I got to the point of craving a Coke every evening with dinner. I spent the best part of a year giving in to the addiction, before realizing just how bad it had become.
So, I slowly weaned myself off. I started by having just half a can and saving the other half for the next day.
Then I stopped buying it altogether and now I enjoy it on the odd occasion I eat out or at someone else’s house.
I’m proud to say I’m a month clean from having it in the house and hoping to continue!
I hope the tips I’ve shared in this article prove useful – changing your lifestyle won’t happen overnight, but with determination and focus, you can live healthier and happier.