Bad Habits That Break Down Health
formation of habits begins at the time of birth and is carried on throughout
life. As they are continually repeated, they become stronger, and at times
become almost impossible to break. This applies to both bad and good ones. If it
is as easy to develop a good habit as a bad one, then why not avoid forming bad
ones and develop only good ones?
What are good habits? As far as our physical make-up is concerned, good
habits are those which help us to live fuller, healthier, and happier lives. As
a corollary, one can add that a bad habit is one that keeps us from doing the
The purpose of this article is to deal with bad habits. However, in doing so,
we study the positive phase of the question and give positive advice in
connection with the discussion.
Bad Emotional Habits
It is possible that bad habits start in our mind in the form of thinking.
Depressing thoughts depress body functions. One of the most sensitive organs in
the body is the stomach; and gloomy thoughts, excitement, and nervousness hinder
digestion. This can be easily remembered by almost any reader who has tried to
eat while upset or in a hurry. It is almost impossible to get enough saliva to
swallow the food.
people have the habit of always being gloomy. They cannot think anything but
depressing thoughts. They always anticipate calamities. The digestive tract and
whole being of such people must constantly be influenced by these thoughts.
Would it not be much better to put away worry and fill the mind with happy
thoughts which will not decrease the flow of digestive juices but rather have a
beneficial influence upon the whole internal secretion? A few personal
observations will convince the reader of this fact.
Anxiety, fear, excitement, and nervousness also have powerful effects upon
the digestion. In addition they stimulate the flow of adrenalin, which is
secreted into the blood stream. This increases the heart rate, and at times the
blood pressure is raised considerably.
Tension versus Relaxation
Always being tense is another bad habit which is harmful to the body. The
inability to relax is, of course, due to improper thinking. It should really
come under the heading of "fear". When a person knows that he can master a
situation he can be calm and relaxed. By constantly worrying and being fearful
over things, he gets into the habit of doing so, and when by habit he is almost
always tense he finds that it is very hard to relax. For instance, when going to
bed at night he will find that he is biting his teeth so hard that the muscles
of mastication hurt, or he will find that he is clenching his fists or is lying
tense. This prevents sleep, and if sleep comes it is fitful and not restful.
Relaxation should be learned as a good habit, and it can be done by will
power. Many of the muscles that are so tense are controlled by our own will.
Such a person should tell himself to relax the muscles which are contracted. He
should have a good bed. He should lie in a position which is conducive to sleep.
He should think of indifferent or neutral subjects. When he has mastered the
situation he will find that the sleep will be deeper and more restful. To do
this is better than to take medicines for relaxation.
people have the bad habit of working under tension. The one who enjoys his work
and is relaxed is able to do a greater amount of work and do it better than one
who is tense. If a personís job is irritating or displeasing or unpleasant, it
should be avoided and a new occupation sought out. Working is often a repetition
of things which we do day after day. The persons who know how to play a musical
instrument or use a typewriter or drive an automobile will recall how in the
beginning it was painfully hard to hit the right keys or to step on the proper
pedal. After a while all this becomes automatic so that many people can play in
the dark, type even if they are blind, and drive in the densest traffic merely
for relaxation. Their work has become automatic.
To work many hours without interruption is another bad habit. Only a few people
can put in a long day and give as efficient a service the last half as they do
the first. The most efficient way is to work at intervals and to relax and rest
Many people also have the bad habit of doing things with violence and speed.
They use much more energy than is needed, and hence tire out much sooner than
they should. The worker should learn to estimate the amount of energy that has
to be put into each task, and budget it for the day. To plan one's work and
carry it out according to schedule will prevent exhaustion.
Harmful Eating Habits
harmful things and eating in a harmful manner are bad habits. How surprising it
is to think that people can go from the first grade of school clear on through
the university without ever having to learn anything, or very little, about food
or the way it should be eaten. Many restaurants, especially in our larger
cities, would not be able to exist if people had been taught proper eating
habits. Everything is against good digestion and utilization of food.
Perhaps one of the worst habits a person can have is that of irregularity in
eating; eating between meals. It has been found that if a person has food in the
stomach and eats between meals, the whole content remains there until the second
lot has been digested.
A good habit is to choose automatically the foods needed. For example, the
need of enough starches to give energy, enough proteins to replace the parts of
the body which receive wear every day and just enough fat to make up for the
remaining number of calories that are required.
Another bad habit is the use of condiments, alcohol, tea and coffee, which
act as irritants to the sensitive lining of the digestive tract. Large amounts
of sweets also irritate the mucous lining.
Many people take purgatives every day. Any purgative, no matter what type it is,
even if it is the so-called harmless vegetable purgative, functions by causing
an irritation in and of the bowel. Many keep on doing this day after day and
harm the fine intestinal lining with these harsh mixtures.
Many stimulants and tonics which are sold on the markets contain from 10 to
20% alcohol, and in many instances this is the only ingredient that is very
effective. It is true that people do not usually take large quantities of these
tonics, but some do, and a fair amount of alcohol is thus taken into the system
and sleeping medicines are other harmful medicines that people keep on taking
without a doctor's orders. It is true that they are needed at times, but it is a
bad habit to keep on taking them week after week and month after month. Instead
of changing the lifestyle, the occupation, the surroundings, and perhaps
learning how to relax, people go on living in a harmful way and take sedatives
to be able to do so. The sad part is that taking medications never really cures
the underlying causes for depression or anxiety.
Would it not be much better to learn good habits of living instead of bad
ones, when the one is as easy to acquire as the other? The dividends would be a
happier and fuller life with less grief and sickness.
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