Bad Habits and Jedi-Mind Tricks

New year’s resolutions are impossible to deter ourselves from, no matter how hard we try. You’ll overhear them on the radio, casual conversation between people in a grocery aisle, see divorce billboards that say “ring in” the new year driving down I-85, or be dragged into the discussion when your friends begin talking about switching to light beer.


As soon as January first begins – typically in the afternoon – a temporary phenomenon of hysteria unravels. There’s a tumultuous environment in the gyms all across the nation; celebrity diets come out of the woodworks, and NPR puts together a segment about dry January. But then there are people like me, trying not to eat a pint of ice cream in one sitting.


We all have habits, good or bad. Habit building is equivocal because everyone is different in how they form bad repetitions. Regardless, discipline is at its foundation. We may not think about these habits interfering with our day to day lives, but you may be surprised how much these quirks are hindering your productivity, and your health.


According to a Northwestern University study, bad habits that lead to chronic disease can be corrected by minor lifestyle changes. There are no magic tricks to help you take those steps, but we have several mental tricks that can help guide you out of some of your habits.


Hitting Snooze

While it may take half a second to hit the snooze button, it affects your entire daily routine in more ways than one. We fall into this habit because we’re not ready to start our day or we feel like a few more minutes might do the trick to finish off that last far-fetched dream. The truth is, most of us who wake up on time with an alarm, are already behind. We don’t allow ourselves to wake up fully. It’s a rush to get out the door as soon as we open up our eyes.


More than half (57 percent) of Americans are snoozers, according to a study by French tech firm Withings, with results showing we spend a total of 3.5 months of our lives hitting the snooze button. Let’s break the habit!


First, go to bed earlier so you can avoid having to snooze. You’ll be more refreshed and energized when your alarm rings. Try spending time with yourself before you officially have to begin getting ready for work. Wake up an extra 30 minutes, make your coffee, cook your breakfast, and put on some music. Once you’ve connected with your goals of the day, begin the task of making your day happen.


Snacking at Night

We all know what any nutritionists say about late night eating: do it before 9pm. According to, 44 percent of all snacking occurs between dinner and bedtime. The most popular snacks? Salty foods, ice cream, candy, and cookies. Surprise, surprise!


If you’re in need of a quick bite in between sleep cycles, set aside some fruits and veggies before bedtime and make it easily accessible. Include a bottle of water or juice that you enjoy, and steer away from any types of dairy. Take the cookie jar off the counter! (We put the cookie jars on the table for a reason!)


Social Media at Night

We all know the feeling of laying in bed, consumed by thoughts and ideas while trying to find the perfect path to deep sleep. Add social media into the mix, and the visuals of your Facebook or Twitter feed will become a constant replay in your head.


Like any job, work falls between certain hours of your day. When you leave your job, you leave your work behind. Social media is the same. Set a certain time where social media including Youtube and Instagram, is off limits. Call it “downtime” where you choose to read a book or put together a puzzle. We know it’s addictive at times, so using the “do not disturb” feature on your smartphone can relieve you from constant social media notifications.


Biting your fingernails

Biting your fingernails is a habit that we are told is filthy when we are children, yet we watched our guardians turn their fingernails into nothingness. Hands are undeniably dirty. What’s a trick you may ask. A nail file, and nail clippers. We can see the imperfections of our nails which subconsciously leads us to do something about them. It’s something we have control over. There are also over-the-counter items that flavor your nails, giving them a terrible taste. Avoid those germs at a small price.


Drinking too much caffeine

We often forget that caffeine is a drug. Not only is it a drug, but it’s a highly accepted drug. Everyone seems to be an enabler. Friends will offer to even buy it for you! This is a very difficult one, and there is no way around going cold turkey if you are willing to quit altogether. You can slowly wean your way off by alternating decaf and caffeinated beverages. But slow it down. Caffeine increases anxiety, insomnia, and can cause us to be reckless when we are in need of it. Sugar in moderation is a whole other beast.


It’s easy to slip, and trust us – you are not alone. We underestimate the mysterious power of discipline. There are larger battles at hand such as slowing down on the alcohol, using your blinker in the car or kicking the cigarette habit.


Everyone is striving for new feats to pride themselves on. For some reason, resolutions are said aloud so that everyone knows when we slip up, leading us to wonder why we made them at all. There’s nothing wrong with slipping up. Without failure, there would be no growth. You’re making progress. Small steps contribute to the big picture. Keep it up!