No one is perfect, and that’s actually great! What an unexciting world it would be if there was never anything to worry about. But there are some habits we have that can actually be detrimental to our health. The beginning of a new year is a great time to rethink harmful habits and replace them with something healthier!
Why not start the new year with some positive changes in your life?
Bright Side offers you a list of 12 things you can consider leaving in the past to make your life better. And don’t miss the bonus at the end!
Scientists from SC State University proved that some types of candles are harmful to our health, especially candles made of paraffin wax, which is an oil product. They contain chemicals such as alkenes, alkanes, acrolein, toluene, naphthalene, formaldehyde, and these may cause allergies, asthma, and even cancer.
If you love candles and cannot live without them, choose the ones made from natural beeswax, honeycomb, or soy. They’re made of natural ingredients and they won’t cause any harm. To make them scented, add several drops of your favorite essential oils before lighting them.
2. Frequent showering
We used to think that the more we shower, the healthier we are. Surprisingly, scientists have proven that this is a myth. Showering too often can ruin your microbiome, microorganisms living on your body, which may result in problems with the immune system, digestion, and so on. The soaps, shower gels, and shampoos you use simply destroy your body’s ecosystem. Showering too often can even result in the appearance of acne.
James Hamblin from The Atlantic says that based on his own experience, the awful smell during the first few weeks after you quit showering is actually the result of a damaged microbiome. When your body adjusts, you smell much better – like a person instead of a perfume.
Yet, despite the benefits described by Hamblin, few of us are ready to completely give up showering. So limiting your showers to once a day or every other day is already a great place to start.
3. Skinny jeans
It’s true that tight jeans do make you look great. Unfortunately, they’re not as safe as you may think. Scientists warn that wearing skinny jeans can worsen some health conditions, like compartment syndrome, meralgia paresthetica (pain and numbness in thighs), and heartburn. Though the risks are low, it’s better to be safe than sorry. So don’t wear skinny jeans if you know you’re going to be moving around a lot.
4. Cell phone addiction
Cell phone addiction went so far that it’s actually causing new diseases. For example, the “text neck” syndrome is provoked by looking down at your cell phone and it is characterized by pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Common diseases, such as anxiety from receiving fewer messages or social media updates, and obesity are also on the list of negative effects.
Yet there are other dangers. A study found that pedestrians texting while crossing the road get four times more distracted, which means they ignore the traffic lights and create dangerous situations for drivers, themselves, and other pedestrians. Moreover, the blue light from the screens disrupts the production of melatonin that regulates sleep, and can even damage your central vision.
So the next time you unconsciously reach for your phone, take a second to think about whether or not you really need to check your phone right then and there.
5. Crossing your legs
Crossed legs are one of the most favorite and convenient sitting positions for women. There are many myths on the Internet about it, so it’s hard to tell what’s really harmful, and what’s not.
Yet the most dangerous consequence of sitting with your legs crossed is deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. It may lead to serious and even chronic health problems. To avoid it, move around more, exercise, and don’t wear clothes that are too tight.
6. Sedentary lifestyle
We all know that life is about movement. However, some people still choose to chill in front of the TV instead of going outside. A stu
dy showed that watching too much TV and playing games can lead to muscle stiffness, scapula displacement, and an increased risk of epileptic seizures due to fatigue and lack of sleep.
It was also found that the lack of activity can lead to fragile bones. This is because our body needs to feel its own weight in order to build strong bones, and this brings us back to the necessity of movement. So call your friends and go for a walk.
First of all, it doesn’t matter if your snacks are healthy or not. The simple fact that you often reach for them is enough to ruin your health. Hunger is not as bad for us as we’re used to believing. Moreover, it can actually be good for us, if we understand exactly what it is. Hunger is a signal our body sends us when it needs food. This means that grabbing these delicious snacks between meals is actually pleasing our cravings.
Have you ever noticed that food tastes better when you’re hungry? So why deprive yourself of such a great pleasure? Refuse snacks, listen to your body, and enjoy every bit of your favorite dish.
8. Sleeping on your side or stomach
Though sleep seems like the easiest and the most natural thing in life, it’s actually quite easy to harm your health by choosing the wrong sleeping position. Experts say that sleeping on your side and stomach is actually very bad for you.
According to this study, sleeping on your side has been linked to shoulder and neck pain. It happens because when lying on your side, your shoulder has to support most of your body weight. Sleeping on your stomach is even worse, since you turn your head to the side, which again results in neck and shoulder pain. It can even lead to a slipped disk.
9. Frequent sunbathing
Sunlight is actually UV radiation, which can be beneficial and harmful at the same time. We all know that sun helps us produce vitamin D, but an excess amount of it may cause cancerogenic mutations.
The main culprit here is UVB light, which makes some DNA parts stick together and sometimes even kills them. You can feel this while peeling off your skin after getting sunburned. Dr. Jacqueline Gerhart says this is not a one-time effect because the information can pass to new cells from damaged ones. So the more times you get sunburned, the higher the risk of cancer.
To be on the safe side, experts recommend applying sunscreen every two hours, about two tablespoons at a time, and reapplying it after swimming.
10. Sleep deprivation
Ever since we were kids, our parents have been telling us we should sleep well. It’s healthy, pleasant, and our bodies need rest. However, we still don’t realize all the dangers of sleep deprivation. It decreases concentration and dulls the sense of balance, increases the risks of heart diseases and diabetes. Some studies suggest it can even lead to breast cancer.
Yet we continue to believe that a few hours of sleep here and there is enough for us and we tend to look past the danger we’re putting ourselves in. In 2013, drowsy drivers caused 72,000 car crashes, and unofficial statistics say that about 6,000 of cases turn fatal each year.
11. Pain medication and sedatives
A headache or anxiety is obviously not something anyone wants to experience. We all search for ways to fight them and often turn to pills as soon as something hurts. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget that self-medication is dangerous, and we often buy over-the-counter drugs and take more than the recommended dosage without consulting a specialist.
However, the worst thing you can do is mix pain medication with sedatives. A study showed that it could be more addictive than illegal drugs. But that’s not the only danger, as this combination may lead to drowsiness, poor coordination, fatigue, concentration problems, muscle weakness, heart rate changes, and much more. The combination of these medications causes more overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin together.
So if your doctor prescribes medication, use exactly the recommended amount and ask before combining with other medications.
Yes, slouching is comfortable, but have you ever considered the negative effects a bad posture has on your health? It can harm your digestion, contribute to tension headaches, and can cause neck pain since the weight of your head is supported only by the muscles in the back of your neck when you slouch. Slouching can also make you appear less confident.
By the way, this study has sh
own that a good posture can do wonders for your mood, self-esteem, and your ability to cope with stress, as it can also help you reduce feelings of fear. Isn’t this an awesome list of reasons to try sitting up straight?
Bonus: Don’t lie to your doctor.
Doctors will generally do everything they can to save your life or to improve it. Unfortunately, they cannot read your thoughts. While it’s understandable that there may be things you don’t want to share with your doctor, it’s these exact things that can be crucial in diagnosis.
The next time you hesitate before telling your doctor the truth, take a deep breath and answer the questions as truthfully as you can, because, in the end, it’s your health that matters, and not your doctor’s judgment.
Which fact was the most surprising? Which other harmful habits do you know? Are you used to doing any of the things mentioned above? Share your habits with us!