The first few months of a new year are always a good time to make positive changes – hence the popularity of new year’s resolutions. People always feel more motivated after leaving the past year behind them and looking forward to another 12 new months for them which to transform their lives. You too can use this energy to improve yourself and make it a real change for good by ridding yourself of the following toxic habits:
Not taking care of your body
These days, it seems life gets in the way of everything—even taking care of yourself. How many times have you opted for takeout food over making a meal for yourself at home, or sleeping half the weekend away to catch up rest after too many late nights during the week? We live in an age where certain choices are irresistible because they’re so much more convenient, failing to realise that we’re putting poison into our bodies and slowly becoming sedentary.
Committing to do better for yourself this year is the first step. Instead of ordering fast food off of your favourite delivery app every day, consider setting aside a few hours during the weekends to prepare your meals ahead of time. You can integrate more fruits and vegetables into your diet this way while managing portions and keeping yourself off unhealthy processed ingredients.
Having trouble getting out of bed in the morning? Sleep earlier! Turn off all screens at least an hour before bedtime. Mobile apps and social media sites are specifically designed to hold your attention for as long as possible, encouraging mindless scrolling and stimulating your brain into staying awake. It’s also worth cutting down on your caffeine and alcohol intake, as these can mess with your sleep patterns.
Finally, the World Health Organization recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity throughout the week for adults between the ages of 18 and 64. Broken down, that’s just 21 minutes of cardio every day. It’s not much at all when you consider the benefits: stronger bones and muscles, markedly lowered risk of coronary heart disease, elevated blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, and an overall improvement in your mood and disposition.
Using single-use plastics
Convenience also drives the widespread use of disposable plastics, and the fact of the matter is that we are drowning in it. Over 40% of it is used only once before it’s binned, and now this non-biodegradable material is choking waterways, polluting oceans, and taking up valuable landfill space. Mass production of plastics began just six decades ago, but we’ve managed to produce 8.3 billion metric tonnes of it. The worst part is that only 9% of that has been recycled, according to estimates from a 2018 report conducted by Great Britain’s Royal Statistical Society.
Plastic pollution is a problem of planetary proportions, but it’s one we can all take part in solving. Bringing a set of reusable utensils with you, switching to a reusable tumbler or water bottle, or opting for reusable cloth or canvas bags when you go grocery shopping can significantly lessen the amount of plastic that ends up in the bins. In addition, you can also look into other ways to be kinder to the planet and reduce your own carbon footprint. Small but meaningful measures include conserving water, walking or biking instead of driving, and recycling, reusing, or repurposing any unwanted items you may have lying around.
Spending too much time on social media
As of 2019, some 18 million Australians have active social media accounts and are spending an average of 1.5 to 1.75 hours on these platforms each day. These numbers are only growing; we spend a good amount of time online, wired in using various mobile devices to check the news, stay in touch with friends and loved ones, access information and make purchases.
However, social media addiction is very real, and preliminary studies show that it can have detrimental effects on one’s mental health and interpersonal relationships. They make it very easy, too—social media apps are designed to be maximally addicting, because these companies earn more money through ads sprinkled throughout your timelines the more you keep scrolling and using them. The ability to send and receive instant feedback can also make you dependent on the validation you receive online; studies show that there is a connection between overusing social media and feelings of loneliness, jealousy, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.
While it would be very difficult to completely unplug, there are ways to moderate yourself so that you can increase productivity and continue to use social media healthily. Apple rolled out the “Screen Time” feature in iOS 12, which can track your use of certain apps and help you limit your time on them. The feature is also available on Android as of Android 9 Pie and higher as “Digital Wellbeing”. You can also turn off notifications for social media apps on your phone to prevent yourself from being distracted by them throughout the day.
We’ve listed a few common issues that plague adults in the modern age in this article, but “toxic” can mean something different for you entirely. The important thing to do from there is to identify what those habits are and set the right goals to help you break them. Keeping your goals specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound (SMART!) will help you commit to them better and ultimately succeed. Good luck!