Habits. Plenty of good ones – bucket-loads of bad ones.
It was originally suggested it takes 21 days to form/kick habits. But research led at University College London suggests it can take up to 66 days for a new habit to become automatic. We’ve selected some common bad habits which, when tuned a little, can improve your life dramatically. Let’s go!
It’s been a long Wednesday at the office, you’re feeling to pour a quick glass of red and release the day’s stress. That’s fine. That glass turns into two, half a bottle turns into three-quarters, and then you’d think it rude not to finish the job, put on some Rihanna, and crawl through the crisps draw.
If this is often you, you’re like nine million others in the UK who exceed the recommended daily limit (three). You’re also at scientifically higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
In contrast, one 175ml glass of wine every other night is good for you; Harvard University researchers recently stated it helps to improve blood flow, blood vessels’ lining function and reduce clotting. Red wine, in particular, contains an ingredient called ‘resveratrol’, which could even help turn flab into calorie-burning ‘brown’ fat.
So there are benefits to treating yourself to one a night – but if you find yourself frequently unable to keep it at one, I’d leave it.
Experts recently revealed everyone in the 18-64 age bracket should get at least 7-9 hours sleep per night.
If you’re under, it might indicate you’re working too hard (or stressed!). But in all cases, not allowing both your physical and mental body to recharge properly could affect your concentration, dumb you down, kill your sex drive, age your skin and make you gain weight!
Frequent oversleeping is just as deadly. A 2014 study found those who slept over nine hours were, on average, 49% more likely to suffer from depression. It could also cause physical pain to your heart, brain impairment, weight gain, diabetes, and even lower your chances of getting pregnant.
If you find yourself without enough hours during the night to hit 7-9, don’t feel guilty about taking a nap in the day – it could save your life. Oversleeping may be a tougher rut to cut. Beyond coffee, it could be a symptom of deep-rooted problems, such as depression and your overall mental mindset. I’d suggest chatting to your GP to seek further advice.
Most people interpret anger negatively – that’s far from it. Anger is a tool which helps you understand how to deal with upsetting social situations. Of course, when dealt with dreadfully, anger can lead to mental/physical abuse, violence, and isolation from family and friends. In these extreme cases, you must seek professional guidance.
But bottling up and not allowing yourself to release can lead to serious complications such as chronic stress, stress exhaustion (headache, muscle tension, obesity, insomnia, high blood pressure), and distance in a relationship.
These, ultimately, leave you feeling irritable, argumentative, anxious, depressed and powerless. And it explains why people might react to separate situations – which are unrelated to the original cause of anger – aggressively.
Instead of letting it all build, learn to embrace your discontent and communicate your anger effectively.
It’s the new year, you’ve finally plucked up enough motivation to drag yourself to the gym and you promise ‘this time you’re gonna stick to it, at least four times a week for a couple of hours – no excuses’.
Well, chances are, if you stick to this regime for two weeks – you’re at high risk of burning out. Ironically, there is such a thing as ‘spending too much time in the gym’ when starting out.
Aiming for the sky is great, but setting yourself daunting targets will only put you off the idea completely. Mini targets whilst focusing on long-term goals, instead of going hard for one week and sodding it off for few months, is the way forward. Beginners are advised to allow themselves at least 48 hours to recover per workout.
Even small amounts of exercise help to control weight, reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer, strengthens bones and muscles, and improve your mental health and mood. Never underestimate the progress of a baby step.
5. Mobile phone usage
Gone are the days where you’d check your phone at convenience – your phone now lets you, occasionally, look away at its convenience.
I mean, I can’t be the only one who’s missed a train because I’ve been engrossed in something I’ve seen on Facebook – surely?
Our smartphones are just a time-consuming part of us now – we’ve all accepted it – but there’s still room to consume that time more productively. So, go into your app/android store and find some new games to play with.
Here are two favourites to get you started:
Lumosity – the app is split into multiple games which test your memory, attention, problem solving, processing speed and flexibility of thinking. Progress is trackable, and developers say just one session a day can improve mental skills.
Personal Zen – an anxiety-reducing app which trains your brain to focus on more positive and less negative. Developer, Dr Dennis, suggests using the app before a stressful event, and that 10 minutes a day will help build more enduring positive effects.