Bad habits are behaviors that we’ve internalized and carry out almost without noticing. We might not realize some of these habits right away, but they usually make themselves apparent in the long-term.
This is why it is so important to be conscious of these toxic habits and do what we can to erase them. By recognizing and erasing our toxic habits from our lives, we’ll improve well-being and quality of life.
1. Not taking responsibility for mistakes is a toxic habit
We’ve all make some mistakes, but admitting them is probably the hardest part. Mistakes can affect our self-esteem negatively, but learning to accept and take responsibility for our mistakes is a big part of learning and growth.
If we let ourselves believe that we never make mistakes and are never responsible for things going wrong, we don’t leave ourselves any room to grow.
What to do: Admit to yourself when you’ve make a little mistake, like putting too much salt on your food. You can say something like “I made a mistake and I used too much salt. Next time I’ll be more careful”.
Start off with small mistakes, and work your way up to more important ones. By doing this, it’ll be easier for you to take responsibility for mistakes and ask for forgiveness when it affects others.
2. Thinking negatively is a toxic habit
Negative thoughts are a threat to our self-esteem and mood. If we constantly tell ourselves that we’re not good enough or that we’re stupid, we’ll start to really believe and internalize it. Berating yourself continuously can lead to more serious disorders, like depression and anxiety.
What to do: Sometimes we have these thoughts without realizing it and without doing it on purpose. Learning how to realize when we’re having these thoughts is important for being able to stop! Write down your negative thoughts on some paper and try to figure out some alternative thoughts.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
3. A poor posture is a toxic habit
Our body language and posture can say a lot about us, but it can also affect our mood. According to a study, sitting with your back straight makes you feel more confident than slouching, and other research shows that it can help us feel more powerful and relieves stress.2✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.6073✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
What to do: The first step is to feel more confident in your own body. Practicing yoga or mindfulness techniques can help us understand our body better, and it can help improve posture.
Try to keep your spine straight when you’re sitting, standing or walking. Imagine that you’re a marionette puppet and that you have a strong thread coming from the top of your head. Your head guides the rest of your body- if you look down, your spine will bend. Look with your head up, focused on the world in front of you.
4. An erratic sleep pattern is a toxic habit
Sleep is one of the most important things for our bodies and our brains. Our bodies use sleep time to restore itself and integrate all of the new information that it learned.
Lack of sleep has been shown to produce impairments equivalent to those of alcohol intoxication,4✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1136/oem.57.10.649 and can lead to various problems, like irritability, slower processing speed, poor decision making, low cognitive performance, increased risk of depression, obesity, and cardiovascular problems.
What to do: Most people need about 7-8 hours of sleep, but some people only need 6, and others can’t perform well if they don’t get 10. Try to get in bed an hour early and meditate, listen to relaxing music, or read.
This time should be for relaxing, so turn your phone on airplane mode and put it on the other side of the room. This is also a good way to help become a morning person!
5. Procrastination is a toxic habit
Procrastination seems to be a modern epidemic. Continuously postponing things that we have to do actually impacts our motivation and self-esteem negatively. Procrastination can lead to stress and keeps us from completing projects, assignments, etc.5✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.133.1.65 It also prevents us from starting those tasks and goals that we’ve given ourselves, which can result in feelings of worthlessness.
What to do: Have a list of things you need to do and divide the tasks into smaller, easier tasks. Avoid distraction and visualize yourself reaching that goal.
6. A poor diet is a toxic habit
Our diet affects our brain, which is why it’s so important to eat well. Poor nutrition weakens mental functions and causes us to under-perform. A healthy diet doesn’t only help our brains work better, but it also improves our physical health and our self-esteem.
What to do: To make sure that our bodies and brains are getting all of the nutrients it needs, you don’t necessarily need to only eat those “miracle” foods that everyone is talking about.
Eat more fruits and vegetables and cut down on processed meat (like hamburgers, hotdogs, and cold-cuts). Also try to reduce your intake of sugars and salt, especially in pre-packaged foods. Drink water when you’re thirsty and stay away from sugary drinks (even if they’re diet).
7. Multitasking is a toxic habit
Our society is constantly asking more of us- we want instant feedback and automatic updates. We want to do everything as quickly as possible, which causes us to multitask. There are some things we can do without thinking, like walking or eating, which hardly use any mental resources and is why we can walk and talk, or eat and read.
The problem comes when we want to do two things that require more attention, like study with the TV on, or talk to someone and surf the web. In these cases, one (or both) of the activities will be affected.
What to do: Practicing mindfulness can also help us here. Do one thing at a time. First study, then watch TV. First cook, then help your kids with their homework. This way, we’ll be able to put all of our cognitive resources towards one activity and the outcome will be much better.
8. Blaming others is a toxic habit
It can be easy to fall into the habit of blaming other people. “People don’t listen to me”, “I was late because they wouldn’t let me leave”…if you do this, you’re not taking responsibility for what is your fault.
What to do: Are other people in charge of your life? No. Take responsibility for things in your life. Obviously a vase falling on your head while you’re walking down the street isn’t your fault- accidents happen and you shouldn’t blame yourself for them.
However, there are many other things that you are responsible for, like what you do when you’re faced with a problem and how you handle when things don’t go your way. If there is something in your life that you’re not happy with, change it. Don’t blame other people for your situation.
9. Taking things personally is a toxic habit
You’re not the center of the world. We often think that other people’s actions are related to us, but they usually don’t. Taking it personally when someone is rude or mean to us without any reason will just make us feel badly about ourselves and hurt our self-esteem. People have bad days and may just be taking it out on you without any reason.
What to do: When you think that you have something to do with that’s going on, determine if you really have proof. Think about possible alternative explanations. Ask the person directly if their reaction had anything to do with you. You’ll realize that most of the time, it’s not related to you at all.
10. Haste is a toxic habit
Going everywhere in a hurry isn’t good for us. It’s true, just like with multitasking, society generally expects us to do things quickly and hurriedly, but some things need to be taken slowly.
Cooking for example, will take time, and you should let it. If we do everything quickly, we don’t have time to enjoy life! Besides, it can also cause stress and anxiety, which can cause serious problems.
What to do: Practice some relaxation techniques or exercise. Physical exercise can help reduce stress and help you stay in the present moment. Take your time when doing your daily tasks. Leave your house earlier in the morning so that you’re not running to get to work.
Start your project earlier so you’re not stressing at the last minute. Take the time to read a book or cook a great meal- you’ll be more relaxed and have time to enjoy life!