1. Staying up late for no reason at all. Sometimes you have work to get done. Sometimes you just want to shoot the shit with your roommates. But sometimes, many of us stay up for no reason at all, other than the fact that mechanically scrolling through Instagram or Tumblr is easier than shutting off our phones and daring our brains to be silent. Try picking a bedtime and opening a book thirty minutes beforehand. It’s a much easier transition to sleep.
2. Avoiding a secret passion out of fear. Everyone’s got something they’ve always wanted to try: writing a novel, boxing, home brewing, stand-up comedy, glass blowing. But most people never even make a dent in exploring their passions because of fear – fear of failing, fear that people will laugh at them, fear of looking stupid. But the truth is, everyone is too busy with their own shit to think about the fact that you’re taking a ballroom dancing class. So sign your ass up.
3. Drinking when you don’t feel like it. It can honestly feel awkward to go to happy hour with coworkers or show up to someone’s house party and not drink anything. People want to know why: Are you sick? Are you on a cleanse? Trying to save some money? Sometimes it just feels easier to order a beer so people leave you alone. But if you don’t feel like drinking that night, don’t. When you look people in the eye and assertively say you aren’t up for it, they’ll usually just let it go. Unless they’re the worst.
4. Analyzing your life by comparing it with the lives of your peers. A dose of healthy admiration is good for all of us. But there are so many tiny little details that make up each one of our lives, it’s impossible and impractical to use your friend living in the high-rise, or your Facebook friend with the baby, or your friend with the impressive job, as a marker of where you should be. There are just too many factors involved in each one of our stories – trying to match them up is a waste of time. Embrace your current situation for what it is – unique to you.
5. Or analyzing your life by comparing it with the lives of celebrities. Everything is not what it seems. There’s an ugly side to fame, an ugly side to money, an ugly side to success. Celebrities are all humans just like you. They all have problems just like you do (often better, but sometimes worse). Cross-referencing their Wikipedia page with your current life is only going to hold you back from going out into the world and doing.
6. Keeping toxic people in your life because it’s too awkward to cut them off. If you have an ex that continues to call when they need something (like reassurance), or a one-sided friendship (in which you’re making all of the effort), you have no obligation to maintain those relationships. It doesn’t require a long, Shonda Rhimes monologue or a grand gesture to cut them off. Just stop making them a priority in your life. You’ll feel the weight lift pretty quickly.
7. Screening calls. I’m not sure when it happened, but all of the sudden we’ve all become terrified of speaking on the actual phone. Every time my phone rings and it’s not a family member or a close friend, I start acting like Drew Barrymore in Scream. But having a conversation over the phone with a long-distance friend, or even one that lives close by, is so much more personal and intimate than exchanging a few texts.
8. Continuing to eat the foods that make you feel sick, lousy, or lethargic. Treating yourself is important, and by all means, everyone deserves to have a cheeseburger or a bowl of ice cream when they’re really craving it. But if you’re feeling nauseous, bloated, and sluggish day after day, eating unhealthy foods on a consistent basis is only going to make everything harder.
9. Staying in the house when you’re feeling anxious. Whether you have a diagnosed illness or simply feel the heavy anxiety that comes from time to time with being an adult, staying indoors will not do you any favors. Even though it’s the last thing you want to do, get off the couch and just go for a walk, run some errands, or text a friend to meet you for a snack. You’ll probably feel (at least a little) better afterwards.
10. Spending money on apparel that you will only wear once or twice. Sometimes, when you’re in the moment, it can be so easy to just want. With smart marketing and visually appealing set-ups, clothing stores (and even their online counterparts) have an incredible ability to make you think you want things that you actually don’t care for that much. When you do go shopping (which is a perfectly respectable way to blow off steam and have a good time), think carefully and sincerely about what it is that you want and need, compared to what you simply have an infatuation with.
11. Binge-watching shows to avoid an actual problem. I am an avid supporter of a solid Netflix binge. But if you’re mindlessly watching a show just to avoid something you don’t want to deal with (studying, job applications, a breakup, exercise, whatever) you’re only going to increase your anxiety. Deal with the cloud hanging over you head-on, and the House of Cards marathon that you follow it up with will be way more satisfying.
12. Not giving yourself a break. Sometimes you want to cancel plans because you just don’t feel like going. Other times, you want to cancel because you’re mentally and emotionally exhausted. Learn the difference. When you honestly need to have a night in, do it, and don’t feel bad about it.
13. Drinking more caffeine than your body can handle. We’ve all got shit to do and bills to pay, and trying to imagine getting through your job and overall life without caffeine is understandably ridiculous. But sometimes you hit a cup that is just one too many. If you’re craving a trip to the coffee shop but have already overly caffeinated yourself for the day, try some decaf or a caffeine free tea option.
14. Spending endless hours a day on the internet. I’m all for the internet. Hell, without it, some of my dear friends and I would not have jobs. But there’s a difference between spending conscious time on the internet reading interesting articles, looking at videos and blogs that make you laugh, giving your mind a rest from working, etc… and simply clicking mindlessly on link after link because you’re avoiding real life. The internet is not (totally) evil. You just have to handle it in moderation.