5 Bad Habits to Break Before The New Year
I pick at my fingers — sometimes until they bleed. I think it’s an anxiety thing, but still, it’s not pretty. I’m that girl who tries to appear like she has it all together but upon closer inspection, you’ll find chipped nail polish on raw nailbeds.
I smoke when I’m lonely. I know that doesn’t make sense, but for some reason a cigarette in a foreign country makes me feel like I’m not completely alone. I don’t even like the taste or the experience; just the company.
I get the munchies on my period and basically give myself a free pass to eat anything and everything in sight until my hormones normalize again.
I firmly believe in retail therapy, even if my bank account doesn’t.
Oh, and also, I have a total rubber arm when it comes to drinking. Like, if I’ve had three glasses of wine and someone offers me a shot I have a really hard time turning it down even though shots have historically always been a bad idea for me.
These are just some of my bad habits. I’m sure if you asked my boyfriend, he could list five more but these are the ones of which I’m most self-aware — the ones at the top of my bad habits to break to-do list.
And let me be clear about this, it’s not as if I’m ashamed of my bad habits — we all have them, after all. I realize that my bad habits are unique to me and are simply symptoms of the beautifully flawed human that I am, and I am more than okay with that. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
In the past, I’ve stock-piled my bad-habits to break to-do list for the New Year, saving them up with a plan to go cold turkey on all of them starting January 1. This has been both a convenient excuse to continue letting myself get away with my bad habits for the remainder of the year, and also ... a recipe for disaster. Like, that’s a lot of pressure for anyone, let alone someone who has been vowing “diet starts Monday” for the past 13 years.
So, why not take the pressure off of your New Year’s resolutions and break up with your bad vices before the ball drops? Here are 5 bad habits to break before the New Year (and how to break them).
Bad Habit to Break #1: Incessant Snacking With a Guilty Conscience
As someone who has struggled a lot to maintain a healthy relationship with food, I’m never ever going to be one to tell you when or what or what not to eat. That’s your business, babe. However, I will tell you that there’s something to be said about eating intuitively and not feeling like a crazy person around food.
Like, if you’re craving chocolate because it’s that time of the month (or any time of the month) you should absolutely 100%, without a doubt, treat yourself to something chocolatey and enjoy every bite of it guilt-free, and then — and here’s the tricky part — move on.
This is a touchy one because I don’t think the bad habit is actually the “incessant snacking” part, but rather the “guilty conscience” part. That’s where your focus should be when it comes to the breakup.
There seems to be a negative stigma around snacking, in general, which is kind of messed up. Like, “Oh my god, I’ve been snacking all day, now I can’t eat dinner.” Wrong. There is nothing wrong with snacking. If you feel hungry, you should eat — no matter what time of the day it is. It’s when you are snacking out of boredom, sadness, or obsession and then beating yourself up for it afterward, that it can take an ugly turn.
To break this “bad habit,” try reacquainting yourself with the feeling of true hunger — something you can read more about at https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-real-hunger/. Then, when you are feeling snacky, ask yourself, “do I want that leftover pizza because I’m actually hungry? Or am I just bored?”
Let your answer guide your decision.
Side Note: If you aren’t actually hungry but you decide to go for the pizza anyway, that doesn’t make you a bad person.
Bad Habit to Break #2: Smoking
As someone who has been a social smoker, misguidedly attempted smoking for weight loss, and has used a skinny cigarette as a loneliness coping mechanism, I can honestly say with some experience that smoking isn’t cool and it isn’t healthy (and it won’t make you skinny).
Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to the quitting part.
Luckily, I’ve never been one who has struggled with the quit — probably because I hate the taste, smell, and even that buzz that accompanies a cigarette, and have only ever smoked for vanity reasons. BUT. I have known friends who have effectively broken their smoking habit by using an e-cigarette — www.ecigwizard.com — as a weaning device. You’ll still get your “fix,” but without all of the harmful chemicals that are found in tobacco smoke.
Bad Habit to Break #3: Couch Potato Binges
I know it’s cuffing season and all, but just because it’s dark by 5 these days and the new season of Stranger Things is finally on Netflix, doesn’t mean we should just melt into our couches every night.
While I’m a big fan of movie nights, or rainy day marathons, or self-care Sundays dedicated to rest and relaxation, there’s evidence out there that too much TV can affect your creativity, mental health, and over time actually may even rewire your brain. And that’s just on the television front.
While sitting and lounging after a long day on your feet, or a hard workout can be beneficial, too much time spent seated or laying down can be detrimental to your health. “Your cholesterol, weight, blood sugar, insulin, liver & pancreas health, digestive health, bone and joints, cancer risk and cardiovascular disease risk are ALL increased when you sit or are sedentary for hours each day.”
As someone who writes for a living, I’m sitting down a lot so even when I feel like I’ve been working all day, it’s important that I don’t just go home to veg, but find ways to be active every day.
If this is a bad habit you too feel like you need to break, try some of these tried and true tips:
- Set yourself a TV limit. Try to go with no more than 2 hours of TV time a day. This should be manageable enough to ensure you can still catch up on your favorite shows without letting your Netflix own you. Too easy? Challenge yourself to see how low you can go.
- Invest in a step-counter. Ideally, we should be clocking between 10,000 and 12,000 steps per day. Invest in a tracker like a FitBit, or simply use the Health app on your iPhone to keep tabs on your step count. If you’re not hitting that daily quota, make adjustments in your day to ensure you get there.
- Use an app like Curbi, which although it was designed for kids, can be a good way to manage and monitor your web and mobile activity. With just a few clicks you can set yourself screen-time limits that will block your access after reaching them.
Bad Habit to Break #4: Shopping ‘til You Drop
If you’re always flashing the plastic, you have more shoes than Carrie Bradshaw, and your closet is overflowing, while your bank balance is almost non-existent, it’s time for an intervention.
I would know because I’ve been there.
One of the best ways to break the shopaholic habit that I’ve come across so far is the 30-Day Shopping List Technique devised by Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits. It’s both simple and effective. All you need to do is carry a notebook around with you (the Notes app on your phone also works perfectly), and every time you have the urge to buy something, note it down instead. If, after having it on the list for 30 days, you still really want it, give yourself permission to get it. Otherwise, cross it off and move on.
Bad Habit to Break #5: Over Drinking
I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t wake up with a hangover two-days in a row this weekend (in my defense, it was my BFF’s birthday weekend). Not only that but the after-effects of 792834893 glasses of wine left me feeling puffy, red-faced and glassy-eyed. Not a good look, right?
While I love indulging in a glass of wine with my girlfriends on a Friday night, and nothing gets me more excited than seeing a list of oxymoronic “holistic cocktails” on a menu, there’s a major difference between social drinking and blacking out. And for someone like me, with a rubber arm, distinguishing the blurry line of the tipping point can get complicated.
If this sounds familiar, here are some of my favorite antidotes to over-drinking:
- Adopt a no-shot policy. I’ve reached a point in my life, where I’ve realized that truly no good comes from doing shots. While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of “Shots! Shots! Shots!” on someone’s birthday, that quick hit of 40-proof has no business in your body. Instead, try sipping on a single ounce mixed with water in a tall glass over an extended period of time.
- Make early morning plans. If I have pre-made plans for Saturday or Sunday morning, it’s much easier for me and my rubber arm to turn down that last round on Friday night. Make plans with your BFF, BF, or otherwise to check out the Saturday morning market, hit up a Flow class, or go on a hike.
- Engage in activities that aren’t centered around alcohol. If you are trying to lay off the booze in general, plan activities outside of your local pub, lounge, and bar scene. Check out an art gallery, go rock climbing, or hit up a movie for old times sake.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that your “bad habits” don’t define you. You are more than your chipped nails, shot-taking, over-extended credit card, or otherwise. It’s wildly respectable and shows immense self-awareness and maturity to actually assess your habits and call out the ones that might be holding you back or detrimental to your health. Instead of approaching your habits as flaws that need fixing, think of them as lessons for growth and personal development. Get to the source cause of your “bad habits” and attack from there.
For example, I know that I chew and pick at my fingernails when I’m anxious, and anxiety is something that I deal with on a daily basis. So maybe my problem isn’t so much the picking or chewing, but rather the anxiety. Making a plan that helps me minimize my anxiety is actually the key to kicking that particular “bad habit”.
Your turn. What can you learn from your “bad habits” and how can you use them as an opportunity for growth?
* Feature Image via Coveteur
* This is a collaborative post