Countless people will make New Year’s resolutions in the coming days – whether they keep them or not is a different story.
Everyone wants to read more, see friends frequently or travel to exotic locales, but unsurprisingly enough, the most popular resolutions have to do with health and wellness.
As individuals, we’re conditioned to see a brand new year as full of possibilities when it comes to getting in the best shape of our lives. But what if we made resolutions (ones we actually plan on keeping and working at) that focus on our health as a whole? Mental and emotional health is just as key to our wellbeing as our physical health, and when we think about the most meaningful changes we want to make in the new year, we can also focus on avoiding bad habits rather than making huge changes. Without further ado, here are a few bad health habits we should all ditch in the new year.
1. Focusing on Dieting Rather Than on Good Nutrition
With a new year ahead of us, beginning a new diet looks especially tempting. You might be thinking of going paleo or keto – after all, many of your girlfriends on social media have, and they look great. But what if instead of committing to a diet we’ll only be invested in for a week or two, we focused on solid nutrition instead? Most diets follow trends or whatever the most popular food restriction is at the moment. But good nutrition focuses on recognizing that our body needs a mix of nutrients – even if health influencers tout how bad or toxic they are – as well as coupling eating well with the right amount of exercise and physical activity.
Additionally, good nutrition recognizes that every individual’s needs are different, rather than guilting them into following a restrictive, pseudoscientific diet plan. Investing in a nutrition plan rather than a specific fad diet that everyone else is doing is a much better way to ensure that we don’t fall short of our health goals in 2022, whatever they may be.
2. Thinking What Worked for Someone Else Is Best for You
Whether it’s a specific fitness plan or a particular type of therapy, what works for your friends and loved ones – no matter how much success they’re seeing – isn’t necessarily going to work for you. This means that it’s even more important to take every piece of advice from someone else with a large grain of salt.
Take every piece of advice from someone else with a large grain of salt.
One of the biggest examples I can personally think of is when I recently disclosed my pregnancy and immediately had a whole host of specific advice given to me about what I should do for myself and my baby. Even though this advice came from a good place, I can already tell that it might not be what’s best for me. Whether it’s mental health, physical health, finances, or big life decisions, just because it worked for them doesn’t mean that it’s best for you.
3. Spending Too Much Time on Electronics
I’m attached to my phone as much as the next person, but in 2022, distancing ourselves from all electronics could reap positive benefits, namely for our skin and our circadian rhythms.
Blue light exposure – especially constant or excessive exposure – interferes with our natural sleep cycles, making it much more difficult to fall asleep when it’s bedtime. Blue light stimulates our brains instead of getting us ready for bed, meaning it’s also more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Furthermore, whether you’re on your phone, tablet, or computer, chances are the exposure to high-energy visible light is also causing premature aging of our skin. So not only are we damaging our skin, but we’re also not sleeping well. Both reasons are enough to motivate us to put some distance between ourselves and our electronics.
4. Using Endocrine-Disrupting Beauty and Cleaning Products
For some, endocrine-disrupting products just aren’t on their radar – even though they’re in our kitchens, cleaning cabinets, bathrooms, makeup bags, and everywhere in between.
Women use around 12 potentially endocrine-disrupting products every day.
Why are endocrine disruptors a big deal? It’s estimated that women use around 12 products per day that are potentially endocrine-disrupting, while men use five to six. Our endocrine system is about as important as it gets – it sends and receives signals vital to the fundamental functions of our bodies. The ES regulates brain functions, movement, growth, sexual maturation, our five senses, metabolism, and more. Endocrine disruptors, like parabens, phthalates, added fragrance or parfum, UV filters and triclosan, can mimic hormones through exposure, potentially triggering an incorrect signal or process to stop or start. Most endocrine disruptors remain unregulated, but are found in products like antibacterial soap or cleaner, nail polish remover, chapstick, mouthwash, and toothpaste, to name a few. This new year, we can do our research and rid our houses of these products.
5. Poorly Managing Stress
Self-care as a topic is pretty ubiquitous nowadays, but not every conversation on managing stress is actually beneficial. “Treat yourself” and other pithy, superficial tips are actually terrible advice, but genuine self-care, whatever it looks like for us as individuals, is actually crucial to our wellbeing. Poorly managing stress or ignoring it altogether can result in dangerous and harmful consequences, many of which not only affect us, but our loved ones and those around us. Ignoring stress can manifest in actual physical health problems, aside from impacting us mentally. Whether it’s making time for physical activity or new pursuits or passions, let 2022 be the year we tackle stress head on instead of half-heartedly acknowledging it.
6. Letting Your Doctor Gaslight You
After the last two years, it’s safe to say that many of us are done with being gaslit by the medical community. If anything, women, in particular, should be motivated now more than ever to ask the difficult and uncomfortable questions about our health and wellness. There’s a reason many patients feel that they’re not being listened to or taken seriously by their healthcare providers, women especially.
Advocate for yourself and stick up for yourself in your doctor’s appointments.
An overwhelming narrative shows that women largely come away from doctor’s appointments and emergency room visits with the feeling that they’re not believed by their doctors. These are our bodies and our health we’re talking about – if we’re not believed or taken seriously by doctors, why are we wasting our time? Letting your doctor or medical professional gaslight you about symptoms, conditions, past incorrect or missed diagnoses, as well as any research you’ve done on your own and concerns you have, is one of the worst health habits we can have and we need to leave it behind in 2021.
7. Ignoring Signs That You Might Have a Reproductive Issue
If you’ve missed a period – or several – or are experiencing painful menstrual symptoms, it’s time to pay attention. While some physical symptoms of potential reproductive issues can manifest on the outside of our bodies (like acne or excessive hair growth), the majority of symptoms are present on the inside, in our reproductive systems. Paying attention to your reproductive health means you’re investing time in your fertility and in becoming literate and knowledgeable about your own body, and there’s no other form of education with a higher return on investment.
Your fertility isn’t just about making babies a few years down the road. It’s about how well (or how poorly) you’re experiencing the normal functions all female bodies go through, and ignoring the signs of a potential issue is perhaps the biggest disservice we can do for our bodies.
It’s time we ditch our moms’ new year's resolutions, like “losing weight” or “reading more.” If the past turmoil of these recent years has taught us anything, it’s that it’s time to sit up and take control of our bodies and our lives. Our mental, emotional, and physical health will only benefit from our investment, and ditching toxic habits like these is the perfect place to start.
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