Many of the things you do every day can negatively impact your health, and most of the time, you won’t even realize you are doing them. That lack of awareness is dangerous since it makes it harder to identify and therefore resolve the problem. Luckily, many others do similar things, so they are well documented. These five common habits could be keeping you from achieving your best health.
While you aren’t exactly what you eat, your eating habits do play a big role in how you feel. What’s worse, the vast majority of Americans eat a less-than-ideal diet. Because it is so common, you probably don’t even know you are doing anything.
One of the biggest culprits is constantly relying on things like processed foods (including so-called healthy ones), fast food and eating out, which can have a significant negative effect on your health. Reading a couple of books about inflammation can be an enlightening experience on how these foods impact you.
Perhaps even worse is that many diets people turn to for weight loss and so-called healthier habits do more harm than good. Instead of relying on fad diets, stick to those that are supported by science. The DASH and Mediterranean diets are excellent examples.
Lack of Exercise
If you find yourself engaging in less than 30 minutes or so of physical activity each day, your lack of exercise is probably affecting your health. At the very least, it is leaving your cardiovascular system underworked. At worst, it contributes to joint pain, chronic illnesses, and problems maintaining a healthy weight and fitness level.
There is good news, though. It is relatively easy to get those 30 minutes of exercise each day if you break them up into smaller, more manageable chunks. A 15-minute walk in the morning along with a few five-minute workouts can have you moving more in an accessible way. You can always add more as you start to feel more energetic.
Although there is emerging evidence that some people need less, most experts recommend adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, that can be really hard to do. Between overly full schedules and rising stress and anxiety, many people just don’t get the sleep they need. If you find yourself in the majority, there are some things you can do to improve the quality and quantity of your nightly rest.
Start by making your bedroom as sleep-friendly as possible. Remove extra lights, lower the temperature, and use restful colors in your decorating. Limit screen time in the hour or so before you go to bed to reduce impacts from blue light. Finally, try to limit napping, caffeine and high-sugar drinks late in the day. They can interfere with your ability to fall asleep in the evening. Instead, get up and walk for a few minutes to push through the tired spell.
Stress does a lot more than impact your sleep patterns. It can wreak havoc with virtually every aspect of your health if left unchecked. There are as many approaches to managing stress as there are ways it affects the body. You may need to try a few before finding what works best for you. A few suggestions to get you started include:
- Practicing yoga
- Breath meditation
- Adult coloring
- Listening to music
Your body is more water than any other substance, so it should be no surprise that hydration levels affect how you feel. Yet, if you are like most adults, you probably aren’t drinking enough water each day to meet your body’s needs. Try to drink about eight glasses a day for optimal health. You’ll know you are drinking enough water if your urine is consistently clear and pale.
You have more control over your health than you probably realize, and many everyday habits could negatively affect it. Poor diet, a lack of exercise and sleep, and dehydration are some of the main culprits.