Wellness
10 everyday habits that can be damaging to our health
Some of these seem so innocent.
Jessica
05.03.22

Every day, we do things that may seem innocent but can be bad for our health. Very few things are 100% bad across the board, but it’s important to know when the actions we think are mundane actually affect our health. and our bodies and lives are all different,

There are plenty of things we already know we’re not supposed to do at all (or in excess) – like smoking, eating junk food, and drinking soda. But there are some other things we do that we just need to be more careful about.

Here are 10 things you may not think about very often that could affect your health:

1. Drinking unfiltered water

Water is the best thing you can drink, all things considered, and most of us don’t get enough of it. Of course, you can also overdo it on the water, but in general, it’s critical to have access to clean water for health.

But many of us don’t.

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The Flint water crisis caused many people to shift their drinking habits away from the tap. And that wasn’t always for the best, especially if they started substituting water with sugary drinks.

The truth is that drinking fluoridated tap water is often the best option for people. But it still may be necessary to filter it. Our water treatment plants do a great job, but they can’t catch everything. Some water treatment plants don’t filter out pharmaceuticals.

People drinking well water especially need to consider what might have leached into their supply, from pesticides to pharmaceuticals.

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But the solution isn’t to fear the tap or spend tons of money on bottled water. Filtering your water does cost money, but it can also reduce bacteria and other potentially unhealthy contents in the water supply.

Before you freak out, do some research. You might even want to check out one of the many websites where you can pop in your zip code and get more info about your local water.

2. Popping OTC pills

Have a headache? Pop an aspirin. Back pain? Try an Aleve. Have a cold? Time for some Sudafed. The list goes on.

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The problem is that there are so many “cures” available to us that we end up popping a pill for just about everything, even the stuff that we might be able to get over naturally. Now, that’s not saying you shouldn’t help your body out, but it’s essential to be careful with what you take and how often you take it, especially if you take other medications.

Here are just a few of the problems with the overuse of OTC medications:

  • Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, can cause liver damage (overdoses are the leading cause of acute liver failure in the U.S.)
  • Antihistamines can lead to a rebound effect that worsens congestion in the long run.
  • OTC medicines are easy to abuse – diuretics and diet pills for those with eating disorders, for example.
  • They make it easier to avoid or postpone seeing a doctor when professional help is necessary.
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It’s important to know the risks and stay alert to your reliance on these pills for pain relief or sleep.

3. Sitting

Aren’t you sick of hearing that “sitting is the new smoking”? It’s pretty annoying to be told sitting will kill you when you have a desk job and no other options.

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We get it. The problem is that it’s true. All the research we have shows that sitting too much can cause a host of health conditions that we’d all probably rather avoid, including:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Excess body fat around the waist
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Back and neck pain
  • Chronic headaches
  • An increase in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer
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Yikes, right? Well, we all know we have to stand up and walk more; it’s just a matter of actually doing it. There’s no magic trick that will help you avoid it.

4. Taking vitamins and supplements

The best way for your body to get nutrition is from food. Pills are simply not absorbed well enough to provide the right balance of vitamins and minerals. And, believe it or not, studies show that multivitamins don’t reduce the health risks they’re supposed to.

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There is no evidence that they reduce the risk for heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline, or early death. In fact, some vitamins and minerals (like vitamin E and beta-carotene supplements) can have a harmful effect at high enough doses. It’s much easier to overdo it on the supplements than on the spinach.

If you’re going to take OTC vitamins and other supplements, it really is crucial to ask your doctor about them and read the warning labels. Some supplements can increase your risk of bleeding and interact with medicines. Much of the time, we get more vitamins than we need, and our body washes them away since more isn’t better in this case. But things like too much vitamin A can cause headaches and liver damage, and too much iron can make you nauseous.

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Some supplements can be helpful, though, such as folic acid for pregnant women. But, in general, pregnant women should get medical advice about other supplements since some have been linked to birth defects.

5. Being attached to your smartphone

We know blue light, leaning over a tiny device, doomscrolling, and neglecting the people around us are bad habits. But the tiny computers we carry in our hands all day can also lead to some serious health issues. And while it doesn’t mean we have to give them up (how could we, at this point?!), it’s good to know what habits we might want to consider breaking.

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Here’s what cell phone overuse can do to our health:

  • Staring at your phone all day can lead to eye strain, headaches, and trouble falling asleep
  • Excessive smartphone use is associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, anti-social behavior, and addiction in young adults.
  • Smartphones are filthy and lead to the spread of bacteria (stop bringing them into the bathroom and then setting them on the dinner table!)
  • Overuse can lead to problems with posture.
  • Phones distract us from what’s going on around us and can lead to accidents.
  • Long-term use can lead to trigger finger, thumb problems, and other issues in hands that can cause long-term pain.
  • Phones make us careless and clueless about the world around us, leading to mental health issues from a lack of real connection to other people.
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Maybe it’s time to think about looking up from the phone (or any other device) a bit more often, or even take a tech break.

6. Venting to friends

We all need to get things off our chest sometimes, and we know that bottling things up inside is terrible for our health.

But it turns out that venting tends to lead to more venting. And it can become a vicious cycle that turns you into a non-stop complainer. Expelling bad feelings is good, but doing it all the time means you probably need some other means of emotional regulation. And your friends are probably pretty tired of the negativity too.

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The most problematic venting is when you vent over the same issues repeatedly. This feeds the negativity you already feel towards a person or situation, making it harder to let go of. It can lead to other destructive thought patterns and depression, both for the “venter” and their friends.

7. Cleaning

As much as we’d like to say it’s healthy to stop cleaning, we all know that’s not the case. Cleaning your house is a must if you want to be healthy. The problem comes in when we develop bad cleaning habits – and most of us do.

While you might know gnarly sponges and high humidity spread bacteria, did you know that household cleaners can affect your indoor air quality? Products that clean and sanitize also tend to release volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The same goes for air fresheners. Some of these products can also interact with particles already in the air to cause more toxic fumes.

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As a result, the quality of the air you breathe in your own home can be very poor, and we’re only now just starting to pay more attention to it as more people start to suffer from inflammation, headaches, asthma, allergies, and other respiratory issues. Bad indoor air quality may even lead to an increased risk of cancer.

But there’s no reason to stop cleaning. Switching to more natural products is a good step, but even then, the most important action may be to ventilate your home more often. Yes, even in winter. You can do this by opening windows if your outdoor air quality isn’t problematic. But if it is, you may want to look into air purifiers.

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8. Sleeping in

Sleeping in feels wonderful. But if you’ve already gotten the sleep you need, extra time in bed probably isn’t going to do you any good. Of course, a lack of sleep does all sorts of harm, but so does too much.

Oversleeping – that is, sleeping more than 9 hours – has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and premature death. It can also make you more sleepy during the daytime.

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If you chronically oversleep, you may have a sleep disorder and should talk to your doctor to make sure you’re not depressed or suffering from a condition like hypothyroidism.

It’s more complicated than it sounds, but the best thing you can do is try to go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time every day.

9. Texting

So, we know phones aren’t all that good for us since nearly none of us can be trusted to use them in moderation. And let’s face it, many of us aren’t giving them up any time soon.

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But one thing you should consider is cutting down on your texting time. Frequent texting has been found to have the following negative effects on health:

  • Chronic back and neck pain (aka “text neck”), which can play a role in conditions from chronic headaches to depression to constipation, or even heart disease
  • Poor performance at work or school
  • Relationship issues
  • Constant distraction, leading to a loss in productivity
  • A decrease in self-reflection and thoughtfulness
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Of course, texting can also help us feel less lonely and give us someone to talk to in times of need. There’s no reason to give up texting, but staring at a phone all day for human connection is bound to have some physical and psychological consequences.

10. Sleeping with the TV on

Some people insist they can’t sleep without the TV on. And only you know if that’s true.

While using the TV to wind down your brain at the end of the day can be a good thing for sleep, letting it go all night is not a great idea.

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Research shows that there are some serious short-term and long-term downsides to this habit, including:

  • The light interferes with your body’s melatonin production, making sleep harder
  • Background noise can raise stress levels, contributing to insomnia
  • Sudden noises or commercial breaks can interrupt your deep sleep, leading to daytime fatigue
  • Having the TV on tends to make you stay up later if you get invested in a show

Sleep is an incredibly personal thing, and not all habits work for all people, but if you are looking for an alternative to TV background noise, you might consider a grown-up sleep story, such as the ones you can find on the Calm app or on podcasts like “Nothing Much Happens.”

***

Not all bad habits are going to harm your health, but it’s always good to know what can happen if we don’t pay more attention to our health.

If you’d like to hear about some more potentially bad habits, be sure to scroll down below for a video.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

By Jessica
hi@sbly.com
Jessica is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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