Why is it important to nip unhealthy habits in the bud?

Edward Phillips
Physical Therapy
As you strive to make health-enhancing course corrections, it's worthwhile to look at unhealthy habits that creep up on you. Smoking a cigarette now and again can quickly morph into a regular habit. Likewise, if occasional social drinking is becoming a nightly event, or if your morning coffee is now a daylong ritual that disturbs your sleep at night, it's time to take stock.

Sometimes, even seemingly harmless pursuits become an issue when you start to indulge in them too often. Trolling the Internet night after night, watching eye-glazing hours of TV, or spending more time on social media with online pals or avatars than you do with flesh-and-blood friends and family all qualify as unhealthy habits, too. At best, these activities soak up excessive amounts of time, leaving you less opportunity to engage in healthier pursuits, like a walk or a favorite sport, and to enjoy and deepen social ties. Close relationships not only add pleasure to life, studies have shown that they might help you live longer and stay mentally sharp.

Striking a better balance in your life is an excellent goal for nipping unhealthy habits in the bud. Unless you're trying to stop drinking alcohol or using other chemical substances, abstinence usually isn't necessary, as long as the object of your indulgence—online poker, caffeine, TV, or texting, for instance—doesn't rise to the level of addiction or dependency. So, with the exception of drugs and alcohol, banish all-or-nothing thinking. Instead, aim to throttle back the unhealthy activity or indulgence to a point where it isn't compromising your ability to handle daily challenges, harming your health, or loosening ties with family and friends. Ultimately, nipping an unhealthy habit in the bud can be a gift in many ways, whether it helps you improve your health, save money, or reconnect with people and activities you enjoy.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.