5 Bad Health Habits and How to Break Them

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No matter how healthy we try to be, we all fall victim to bad habits from time to time. And unfortunately, whether it’s biting your nails, or having poor posture, these bad health habits can have serious long-term effects on your body that go beyond just the daily symptoms of raw fingers or an achy back, for example. And as we all know, the stressful lifestyle many of us lead as college students doesn’t exactly do much to help us get better. Here is a look at some common bad health habits, and what you can do to break the cycle!

Bad Habit: Picking At Your Skin Why you do it: You feel the need to try and get rid of any imperfections. And even if you know you shouldn’t do it, when you’re stressed, it’s that much harder to resist. And stress can cause your skin to act up more in the first place… whaddyah know?
Why it’s bad: Picking at your skin can lead to scarring, and just makes the area more inflamed and red. Though picking may seem like the right thing to do, most likely you just end up making your face look worse. Quick fix: Start using an acne cleanser to help clear up your skin, which will make you less inclined to pick at it. If your skin begins to clear up, there won’t be anything to pick at, and you’ll be encouraged to keep your skin looking great! However, if you do have a blemish, treat it, don’t pick it! Use a spot treatment or tea tree oil (both available at drugstores), which will help dry up the spot. Every time you have the urge to pick, choose another behavior to substitute with: doodle in your notebook, or get a glass of water.

Bad Habit: Blasting Your Music Though Headphones Why you do it: You feel the need to have your own personal dance party with your headphones; you have noisy roommates; you’re in the middle of an intense workout; Rihanna is just that good. Why it’s bad: Listening to music too loud can eventually lead to hearing damage, says Claremont physician Curtis Foster. You may not realize it now, but over time exposure to loud noise will cause hearing loss, something you will definitely regret once you get older! Quick fix: Turn down the volume! Ever notice how concerts seem loud at first, but eventually you get used to the noise? Your ears can easily adjust to different volumes. Try listening to your music a little lower—your ears will eventually adjust to the softer sound and you will find that you don’t necessarily miss the blaring tunes. Another option is to try noise-cancelling headphones if you’re dealing with distracting background noise; that way, you wont feel the need to block it out by turning up your music so loud.

Bad Habit: Having Poor Posture Why you do it: So many hours at your desk in front of your laptop or in uncomfortable lecture hall seats don’t exactly make you want to sit up straight. Why it’s bad: Poor posture can lead to muscle and joint problems, causing back problems and increasing your risk of injury. Poor posture also increases your chances of developing arthritis later on in life. Quick fix: Be aware of your posture and begin to practice the proper techniques for good posture. According to the American Chiropractic Association, poor posture can be corrected, however it may take a while since your muscles have become so used to your poor positions. Try changing the setup of your desk so that your computer or laptop is higher up and more level with your eyes. That way you won’t be so inclined to hunch over when you type. You can also practice sitting up straight doing the following: place your feet flat on the floor, slightly arch your back, bring your shoulders up and back and raise your neck so that you are looking ahead.

Bad Habit: Not Wearing SPF Why you do it: You want your skin to have that “healthy-looking glow”. Or, you don’t have time. Why it’s bad: Not wearing sunscreen can have terrible long-term effects that are not very pretty. Worshipping the sun can increase your chance of developing melanoma, one of deadliest types of skin cancer. Staying out in the sun without proper protection also increases your chances of getting wrinkles and age spots, making your skin look older. So much for that healthy-looking glow. Quick fix: Start wearing sunscreen! According to the American Skin Society, even dark-skinned people can get burned and develop skin cancer, so don’t think you’re immune just because you don’t get sunburns. You should wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher at all times and continue to re-apply if you are out in the sun for several hours. Feel like you don’t have time to add another product to your morning routine? Try using makeup with SPF, such as bareMinerals foundation, which already has SPF 15 in its formula. This foundation gives you coverage and saves you time during your morning routine. You can buy bareMinerals at major beauty stores like Sephora, or online at www.bareminerals.com.

Bad Habit: Not Removing Your Makeup At Night Why you do it: You’re tired after a late night of studying or partying, and all you want to do is crash in your bed! Why it’s bad: According to doctors, not removing makeup at night can clog your pores, leading to acne, blackheads and other skin-related problems. Makeup can work wonders during the day, but leaving it on through the night can do just the opposite—just think of all of those chemicals seeping into your pores at night—they need a chance to breathe! As for eye makeup, leaving shadows and mascara on could lead to eye irritation or infections—yikes. Then you definitely won’t be able to wear makeup, during the day or night. Quick fix: Start making makeup removal a part of your nightly routine. You wouldn’t skip going to the bathroom or brushing your teeth, would you? Removing your makeup is no different. All major makeup brands and drugstore brands have makeup removal cleansers, giving you lots to choose from. Removing your makeup will leave your skin feeling clean and fresh, and it usually takes less than a minute to do. After a while, it will just become second nature. Sources: Jennifer Mares, Health Education Outreach Coordinator, Claremont University Consortium. Curtis Foster, MD. Claremont Colleges Student Health Services American Skin Society American Chiropractic Association


About The Author

Mallory Smith is a senior Sociology major at Scripps College, located in sunny Claremont, CA. Born in Denver, Colorado, Mallory spent her time growing up between England, China and The United States. As a result, she loves to travel and explore new places and cultures. In Claremont Mallory is editor of the Life and Style section of The Student Life Newspaper. She also writes for Beyond the Elms, Scripps College’s Career Planning and Resources blog, where she is writing about her soon-to-be journey into the real world. In her free time Mallory enjoys going to art galleries in downtown Los Angeles, hiking, going to the beach and scuba diving whenever she gets the chance.