We’re all guilty of bad habits. Well, most of us are anyway. Some, however, are worse for us than others and should be stopped at once. Below is a list of 5 such habits:
1. Checking my phone after waking up
I have no idea how I became so deeply entrenched in this habit, but I do know that it’s not a good one. If the small sample of people I’ve asked is representative of the general population of young people (statistically not ideal, I know), then you probably do this too. I wake up, roll over, grab my phone, and start scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. The effect is that I stay in bed longer, give myself more time to stress about what I need to do that day without actually setting about doing it and agonize about the state of affairs in the world (which, as each day passes, becomes more dire and grim) when reading the news online. Knowing what my friends have been up to or about the latest news is important, but perhaps not the first thing when I wake up.
2. Drinking when I get home for the day
Those of us over 21 probably are well aware of this habit. It’s been a long day, you’re tired, you want to unwind; luckily, because you’re 21+, you’ve bought yourself a lovely collection of beers, wines and liquors to aid in your relaxation. So, you shrug off your backpack, pop open a beer, and sit down in front of the TV or a video game or book. Of course, after having one, there doesn’t seem to be a good reason not to have a second. And after the second, well, why not a third? Depending on your level of tolerance or dependence, there can be quite a few more after that.
When you’re young with hangovers that are minimal and tolerable—especially if you’re clever enough to still be able to study and work well even while somewhat buzzed—this is quite an easy habit to get into. It should, however, be stopped. It’s likely many alcoholics started out that way, and I can’t imagine it’s doing you any favors healthwise either. This one I have effectively cut out, thankfully; you should too.
3. Worrying about things I can control
“Wait, is that a typo?” you ask yourself. “Isn’t the conventional wisdom that one ought not to worry about what they can’t control?” Well, yes, that is the conventional wisdom, but no, my phrase was not a typo. Something I am guilty of, and I know for certain many other people are because I hear them complain about it all the time, is worrying excessively over things that they very well could go and change if they wanted to. For instance, I might worry about looking for a job, or getting more involved on campus, or that I’m not working out enough. Of course, all of these are things that I could easily improve if I so desired and just put myself to it.
In these situations, worry is simply misapplied. Care or concern regarding such controllable things is warranted, but fretting mentally about them without doing anything is just a hindrance to health.
4. Thinking, “I’ll take it easy only when X”
This is an extremely pervasive habit. It’s almost just how you’re supposed to think when you’re in college. Many of us feel as though we can only justifiably relax, take it easy, and have fun (in a general sense, not just on a weekend) once we’re gainfully employed and happily married or something like that. Obviously, this varies from person to person—hence the “X”.
It’s probably true that having those things would make it easier to relax, but that doesn’t mean that before you’ve succeeded at your goal you shouldn’t let yourself be happy. This thought process is a terrible habit for two reasons. One, it’s simply unhappy and detrimental to mental well-being to disallow yourself pleasure until you’ve satisfied some set of conditions in the future. Two, it’s probably making it harder to achieve that set of conditions because constant stress is actually very counterproductive.
5. Making excuses
More specifically, I mean making excuses about why today is not a good day to be more mindful or making excuses about why I cannot focus on my well-being until after such-and-such exam is done, etc. One of the odd things about the preceding list of habits is that they are so difficult to shake. But if I know they are bad, why should they be hard to eliminate? There is probably some complicated psychological, evolutionary, and behavioral-ecological reason for this. What results, however, is that I am in the habit of making excuses about why I this is not a good time to break one of my bad habits. This meta-habit, as it were, is one that should be done away with before the rest. The tendency to make mental health—or health in general—not a priority in the day’s to-dos is certainly a bad habit that should be broken immediately.
I am working to better myself on these fronts; I hope this list has clarified some areas on which you might do the same!