5 Wild Ways Your Bad Habits Affect Your Life

Bad Habit.. Who Me?

Everyone has a bad habit or two (maybe more). Maybe it’s a mundane bad habit like nail-biting, pen clicking, hogging the remote, or foot tapping. Or maybe it’s a bad habit that affects your life a little more, like non-stop snacking, hogging personal space or talking space in meetings,  procrastinating, or overspending. Some bad habits cause short-term harm to people’s health and relationships. Other habits can cause long-lasting pain and suffering in ways that most people who do them have never imagined possible. Some can even get you fired, or worse, not even get you hired in the first place. Take a few minutes to look at 5 of the more common ones many of us share and some thoughts on how to “break” them.

Repetitive Gum Chewing

  • Chewing gum every now and then is perfectly fine, but for those who chew gum daily or even multiple times a day, it can cause problems for their health. Chewing gum too frequently can force teeth out of a healthy position, tighten and strain chewing muscles, and dislodge fillings. It can lead to nighttime teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Over time, all of these can wear out your jaw joints, which puts pressure on your nerves and causes joint and ear pain.
  • Beyond your dental health, chewing gum may affect your diet, causing you to eat more junk food and less fruit. It can also lead to gastrointestinal problems like irritable bowel syndrome. All of these can impact your life detrimentally. Not only will you probably irritate your coworkers because you’re constantly chewing gum, but jaw pain and gastrointestinal issues can affect your productivity.
  • Gum chewing in the workplace is also a common “top 10 pet peeves” among people who share offices or work in cubes.

My Hint: Chew less or at least chew smaller pieces. Over time you may find that splitting that stick into thirds, will fill the urge to chew, but isn’t such a mouthful.

Constant Daydreaming

  • Fantasizing is a normal human behavior. Pretty much everyone does it occasionally. However, habitual daydreaming (also known as maladaptive daydreaming) can disrupt every part of your life. Many people who daydream like this do it to escape the pain of real-world troubles like extreme debt, job loss, suicidal feelings and debilitation from medical conditions.
  • Fantasy worlds can take over your life so much that you lose track of time, stop cultivating relationships, decrease positive personal care habits like bathing and eating and pace uncontrollably. If can even cause mental and physical exhaustion as well as joint and muscle pain. The more these fantasy worlds invade your thoughts, the less you focus on the real world, which can lead to lost friendships and, even worse, lost jobs. Employers don’t like employees who can’t focus or constantly arrive late.
  • Seems that for some this is just a “mental break” taken to get through the day, but for others, it is a condition that can be explored with understanding how you sleep and or therapy.

My Hint: If you aren’t feeling challenged or feel your workplace is lacking in some creative time in your career – speak with your leads to explore ways to spark your creative process. Otherwise – take control and do it on your own. Sign up for a class, a book club or some other activity that may ignite your brain into a more creative mood.

Ignoring Medication Warnings

  • Many people ignore label warnings on prescription and over-the-counter medications (Yup, I will own that – I am bad that way).
  • Even many common drugs can cause horrifying side effects when used improperly. For example, if you take too much acetaminophen, you can black out or experience severe liver inflammation and/or damage. The same can happen if you drink too much alcohol or come down with infectious mononucleosis while taking acetaminophen. Other drugs can increase the risk of sunburns or heat exhaustion, or cause rashes and even strokes in high temperatures and with direct sunlight exposures. Even just getting drowsy at work can be problematic; imagine blacking out because you didn’t know the side effects of your medication. You should never just pop pills. Always read the labels.

My Hint: Ask your Pharmacist; they often can tell you right in the moment if what you are taking can be a problem with other medications or if it has known warnings.

Distracted & Drunk Driving

  • Maybe you’ve got a habit of texting while driving because you just have to be in-the-know at all times. Did you know that texting while driving makes you as impaired as you’d be if you’d drunk four beers and gotten behind the wheel? Texting while driving can be even more dangerous than drunk driving. No matter which one you have a habit of—texting while driving or drunk driving—any type of distraction while driving could destroy your life. Not only can it ruin friendships, but you could also find it much harder to get a job if you have a criminal record.
  • All it takes is looking away from the road for a second for a child to run out in the street or to swerve into an oncoming lane of traffic. If you accidentally injure or even kill someone, you’ll end up facing criminal charges, and even if you don’t end up in jail or prison, you could still end up with community service, fines, or a lawsuit for punitive damages.

My Hint: Just stop. You aren’t better than everyone else at multitasking while driving. This is one of those “you know it’s going to get you in trouble eventually – so what not correct it now before you or someone you love gets hurt.”

Smoking Around Non-Smokers

  • It’s well-known that smoking is unhealthy, but that doesn’t stop millions of people from doing it. The problem comes when those smokers don’t think about how their habit affects those around them. It’s not just your own health you’re damaging. Breathing in the smoke secondhand can damage the health of non-smokers as well. Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemicals that can cause health problems from heart disease to cancer. Smoking even just once in a non-smoker’s home can potentially harm their health immediately via the smoke or over time through ash dust.
  • Even if you respect your non-smoking acquaintances and only smoke in designated smoking areas, smoke still travels and it stays on your clothes. The people around you can still breathe in those chemicals just from being near you after you’ve smoked. The more you smoke, the more you risk negatively affecting your relationships with non-smokers, because they won’t want their health compromised from your bad habit.
  • Lots of alternatives exist these days to move towards being smoke-free. They should; the “stop smoking” industry is almost as well funded as the tobacco companies themselves. So look towards your local healthcare provider, social service organizations, your health insurance company website or visit SmokeFree.gov for other ideas.

 

Having one or more of these habits could have a strong affect in your life in ways you might not even register until they become a problem. It’s time to consider which is the best way to dump or at least minimize them. Improve your life and the lives of those you interact with daily. Remember, January is right around the corner – wouldn’t it be cool to move into the new year with some healthy resolutions already practiced and in place?

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Also published on Medium.

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