Getting sunburned a few times every summer
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 important, sunburns contribute significantly to cancers of the skin. If you’ve included trips to the tanning salon, that’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.
How to fix it: First of all, always wear a high SPF sunscreen if you’re going to be outdoors in the sun. Sticking to the shade and wearing a hat, sunglasses, long sleeves, and pants during peak sunburn hours can also help keep your skin safe. Schedule an annual “mole check” by a dermatologist; the doctor will inspect your skin for any unusual changes. And keep your eyes on your skin yourself. Anything new that doesn’t look right to you should be checked by a doctor. Finally, if you can’t live without the bronzed look, you can get it without the cancer risk by using a self-tanner.
Behavior that leaves you angry, worried, or stressed all of the time
An unhappy lifestyle releases a cascade of stress hormones that increase your blood pressure and blood sugar, lower immunity, slow digestion, and make you feel depressed and downright mean. Nature intended stress to be a short-lived fight-or-flight response to a threat, but modern life with chronic stressors can have far-reaching impact on your health, such as cravings for high-fat, sugary foods that increase your risk of being overweight. Both the ingredients in the bad food and the added weight increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
How to fix it: A regained sense of joy and control is worth its weight in gold, and the physical health benefits will be substantial as well. Next time you feel a stressful situation emerging, work hard at managing it and keeping your cool. Among the most proven stress-relief methods are yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. Make the most of your down time, to enjoy a relaxing hobby and fully immersing yourself in it. Don’t be afraid to embrace your sense of fun, optimism, and silliness every now and then. And finally, just as being less stressed can make you healthier, living a healthier lifestyle can decrease your stress level and help you better manage stressful situations better. Check out these 37 tips for managing stress for more ideas.
Eating breakfast (or any meal) when you’re not hungry
The “rule” that you should never skip breakfast is just not true; it’s based on misinterpreted research and biased studies, says the New York Times. Almost all studies about breakfast show an association, they say, not causation. And many studies, based on self-reporting, fall prey to inherent bias and misuse of causal language.
How to fix it: Eat when you’re hungry; fast when you’re not. Intermittent fasting—voluntary abstinence from food and drink for a stretch of time each day—has received a lot of attention as of late. Research suggests that going without food for a certain length of time keeps blood sugar even, which boosts metabolism and can help the overweight shed pounds. Benefits include better glucose control and regulation of circadian rhythms (better sleep); all of these can help prevent diabetes.