Overspending your way into debt
Why It’s Dangerous: Money worries can have serious health consequences. In a Rutgers University telephone survey, responders said financial stress contributed to high blood pressure, depression, insomnia, headaches, digestion troubles, aches and pains, ulcers, excessive smoking and drinking, and gaining or losing weight.
Why You Should Stop: You’ll regain a hold on your finances. It’s tough, but getting yourself out of debt is a lot like losing weight. It takes time, can be hard on your ego and your lifestyle, you have to be constantly vigilant, and it’s easy to revert back to old habits. But for those who succeed, and many people do, the results are stunning. You’ll feel more in control of your life with less stress and fewer worries. You’ll be able to sleep better, stop overeating, and have fewer headaches. Finding ways to curb your spending and focus on the simple joys in life will also help improve your relationships. Try some of the money-saving habits, too.
Reverse the Habit:
– Learn about money management: Educate yourself on the basic rules and methods of personal finance—for credit cards, mortgages, budgeting, and investing.
– Freeze your credit cards: Literally. Put them in a cup, add water, and relegate them to the back of your freezer so you’ll stop using them.
– Create a budget: How much money is coming in each month? How much are you spending on essentials, and how much frivolously? Keep track, and discover what you need to cut back on.
– Pay at least the monthly minimum on your bills: Prioritize paying more on the highest-interest credit card. Once you’ve paid it off, move on to the next worst.
– Automate good monthly habits: Use online banking to transfer some of your paychecks into a savings account, and set your bills to be paid automatically.
– Change money priorities: Stop shopping as a form of entertainment or distraction. Identify important things you’ll need in the future and start savings programs for each.
Eating too much fast food
Why It’s Dangerous: A steady diet of double cheeseburgers and fries washed down with an oversize soda or milkshake often leads to a bigger waistline and other related health problems, like heart disease and diabetes. Trans fat, often found in fast food, raises ‘bad’ cholesterol and blood fats that contribute to hardening of the arteries, as well as firing up inflammation, which contributes to the build-up of fatty plaque in artery walls.
Why You Should Stop: The health benefits of making the switch to healthy food will be immediate and substantial. Making a permanent lifestyle change won’t be easy at first. Fast food is super-convenient, surprisingly inexpensive, and thanks to all its fat, salt, and sugar, undeniably tasty. Healthy eating takes more time and thought, and in some cases, more money. It’s worth it though. In addition to losing extra weight, slimming your waistline, and protecting yourself from heart disease and diabetes, you’ll save money if you prepare your own meals instead of buying fast food.
Reverse the Habit:
– Wean yourself off slowly: Cut back a little per week, and buy a little less each time you go.
– Switch to healthier menu options: Replace soda with coffee or water, burgers with grilled chicken, and fries with a salad.
– End impulse visits: Avoid popping into a fast food joint just because you walked or drove by one, especially if you aren’t hungry or it isn’t meal time.
– Switch to grocery stores: Hungry and need a fast meal? You can usually find healthier prepared meals at your local grocery store.
– Try a local sandwich shop: Walk into one and order a turkey on whole-wheat with a salad on the side.
– Make your own: Eat with confidence in your own kitchen, preparing yourself a healthy meal with last night’s leftovers, adding a side of fruits and vegetables.
Getting sunburned a few times every summer
Why It’s Dangerous: If you love sunbathing or make an effort to maintain a golden-bronze tan, you’ve unwittingly contributed to the aging of your skin. Sunbathing destroys the elastic fibers that keep skin looking firm and smooth, leading to earlier wrinkles, blotches, freckles, and discolorations. More importantly, sunburns contribute significantly to cancers of the skin. If you’ve added trips to the tanning salon, it’s even worse. Despite what ads suggest, using tanning beds doesn’t build up a ‘safe’ base tan. It actually raises your risk for skin cancer and wrinkles.
Why You Should Stop: Sun exposure, especially if your quest for the perfect tan has left you sunburned, damages skin in ways that can never be repaired or reversed. Avoiding additional burns can at least help you prevent further damage. Protecting your skin also results in softer, suppler skin with fewer wrinkles and less discoloration.
Tips for Recovery:
– Schedule an annual skin check by a dermatologist: Your doctor will inspect your skin for any unusual changes, and take a small sample to determine the nature of the growth.
– Always wear sunscreen: Keep high SPF sunscreens near all your exits. It only takes about 30 seconds to apply.
– Stay safe in the sun: Stick to the shade, wear a hat, sunglasses, long sleeves and pants during peak sunburn hours.
– Get your glow with a self-tanner instead of the sun: You’ll get the bronzed look without the cancer risk.
– Know a danger sign when you see it: Anything new that doesn’t look right to you on your skin deserves to be checked by a doctor.
– Sip green tea: There’s some evidence that green tea may protect your cells against cancer-causing sun damage.
Be sure you don’t make any of these sunscreen mistakes, either.