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7 Habits Health Experts Warn Are "Most Harmful"

Doctor warns these bad behaviors can have a negative impact on your life. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

We all know that smoking, excessive drinking, eating too much sugar and substance abuse are risky behaviors that lead to major health issues, but there's other subtle bad habits that can also have a negative impact that we may not realize.  Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies reveals to us seven bad behaviors to break right now and why.  Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Too Much Screen Time

woman playing a game on her cell while sitting on couch

Dr. Mitchell says, "Many health professionals warn against the detrimental effects of too much screen time. For example, scientists have shown that prolonged exposure to electronic devices can increase the risk of obesity or even trigger chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease. Additionally, smartphone addiction has been linked to mental health issues like depression and sleep deprivation, leading to symptoms like poor focus and fatigue. So overall, when it comes to our well-being, health experts suggest minimizing or eliminating behaviors that may negatively affect our physical or mental health. By staying attuned to these unhealthy habits and their risks, we can work towards a healthier lifestyle for ourselves and those around us."


Comparing Yourself To Others

Thoughtful girl sitting on sill embracing knees looking at window, sad depressed teenager spending time alone at home, young upset pensive woman feeling lonely or frustrated thinking about problems

"Constantly comparing yourself to others is an unhealthy habit that can negatively affect your mental and emotional well-being," Dr. Mitchell states. "When you compare yourself to others, you're likely to focus on how you fall short. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and low self-esteem. Comparison can also be a significant source of stress and anxiety. If you constantly compare yourself to others, you may never feel good enough. You may also miss out on the joys of life as you're too busy focused on what someone else has that you don't. Comparison is a losing game that's not worth playing. It's important to remember that everyone is on their journey, and there's no need to compare yourself to anyone else but yourself."


Taking Your Relationships For Granted


According to Dr. Mitchell, "A well-known saying goes, 'you don't know what you've got until it's gone.' This sentiment rings particularly true when it comes to relationships. When we take our partners, friends, and loved ones for granted, we may not notice until they are no longer a part of our lives. It turns out that this tendency can be nasty for our health. Research studies have found that feeling unappreciated in your relationships can negatively affect your health. For example, chronically feeling undervalued and taken for granted has been linked to higher cortisol levels in the blood, which can strain the cardiovascular system and increase the risk of heart disease or stroke. Furthermore, those who depend on their relationship partners most often are more at risk for loneliness and feelings of isolation than those who receive support from others.The bottom line is that taking your relationships for granted is detrimental to your physical and mental health. It's important to remember to show appreciation for those around you regularly, no matter how close or familiar they may seem. The smallest gestures – from writing a kind note or text message to making time to listen – can make all the difference in ensuring that your relationships stay healthy and strong."


A Sedentary Lifestyle

Obese woman laying on sofa with smartphone eating chips

Dr. Mitchell explains, "A sedentary lifestyle involves little to no physical activity. It's a habit that has become increasingly common in recent years, as more and more people spend their time glued to screens instead of getting up and moving around. While it may not seem like a big deal, living a sedentary lifestyle can have severe consequences for your health. Inactivity can lead to weight gain, muscle weakness, and joint pain. It can also increase your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Sitting is considered the new "smoking," and it's a problem that needs to be addressed. What's more, it can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. The good news is that it's never too late to make a change. Even small changes like standing up more often or taking a brisk walk can make a big difference in your health. So if you're looking to improve your health, start by making an effort to move more throughout the day."



woman smoking cigarette near people

Dr. Mitchell reminds us that, "Smoking is a highly unhealthy habit that can cause severe damage to both the smoker and those around them. Although many people still choose to partake in this dangerous activity, we must do all we can to spread awareness about the harmful effects of smoking and encourage others to break this destructive habit. The primary problem with smoking is that it regularly introduces harmful chemicals into the body. These chemicals can lead to breathing difficulties, reduced lung capacity, and an increased risk of developing cancer. Additionally, smokers often experience a reduced sense of taste and smell due to the chemical reactions in their bodies. Furthermore, secondhand smoke from cigarettes poses a direct health threat for people who spend time around smokers, risking respiratory complications such as pneumonia or bronchitis. In light of these clear dangers, it should come as no surprise that smoking has been banned in many public spaces worldwide. Although some argue that such laws infringe upon personal freedoms, it is clear that these laws are necessary to protect both smokers and nonsmokers alike from the harms of this dangerous habit. Therefore, we must continue to speak out against smoking and work together towards widespread tobacco cessation so that all people may live happy, healthy lives free from this devastating addiction."


Overspending Your Way Into Debt

Woiman sitting at the table worrying about the money.

"Overspending your way into debt is an unhealthy habit for several reasons," says Dr. Mitchell. "First, it can lead to financial insecurity and anxiety. When you overspend, you may find yourself unable to keep up with your bills or make ends meet. This can cause stress and anxiety, which can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Additionally, overspending can also put you at risk of developing debt problems. If you consistently spend more than you can afford, you may eventually find yourself in debt. This can damage your credit score and make it difficult to obtain loans or lines of credit in the future. Additionally, debt can be a financial burden, making it difficult to save for retirement or other long-term goals. Finally, overspending can be addictive and lead to destructive behaviors. If you find yourself spending more than you can afford regularly, it may be time to seek help from a financial advisor or therapist. Overspending is an unhealthy habit that can severely affect your physical and economic well being."


Not Making Self-Learning, Well-Being, and Personal Development a Priority

happy woman over 40 stretches on yoga mat

According to Dr. Mitchell, "Self-learning and personal development have been shown to have many benefits for both individuals and society. For example, research has demonstrated that self-learners are more likely to be successful in their careers, be less stressed, and live longer and healthier lives. A recent study found that people who engage in self-learning and personal development are 38% more likely to achieve their goals. Many people still shy away from self-learning and personal development despite these apparent benefits. This is often due to a lack of time or resources or simply because they don't know where to start. However, deciding to invest in oneself is one of the best things you can do for your health and wellbeing. By taking the time to learn new things and grow as a person, you will be better equipped to deal with life's challenges professionally and personally. Investing in yourself is essential for living a healthy and fulfilling life."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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