11 Everyday Habits We Really Need to Relearn (Because We’re Doing Them All Wrong)

10 months ago

Leaving the frozen chicken on the counter for the whole day, taking showers that are too hot, or holding in a sneeze — some of us go through our days on autopilot. Our daily actions are filled with little rituals and habits that we think make us feel more comfortable, but actually, they hide something more harmful. For example, a fragrant coffee first thing in the morning can interfere with your hormones or the phone light before bedtime can cause you to not sleep well.

1. Defrosting at room temperature or under hot water.

When you’re in a hurry, you might just take a package of frozen meat from the freezer and put it under hot water, so it thaws out fast. This method is not safe, just like letting the meat defrost at room temperature all day while you are at work. As soon as the meat becomes warmer than 40°F (10°C), all the bacteria that was in there before freezing, starts to multiply.

What to do:

  • Use your refrigerator: This will take longer (for example, a pound of ground beef or boneless chicken breasts will require a full day to defrost), so cooking should be planned ahead.
  • Use cold water: Make sure meat is in a leak-proof package, so it won’t absorb water. Submerge it in a cold tap water and change the water every 30 minutes.
  • Use a microwave: You should be careful here, as some parts of the meat can become warm and start to cook right in the microwave. After the defrosting process, cook the meat immediately.

2. Looking down at your phone for hours

Phones are the most popular devices, and the way we hold them directly influences our health. Holding it down, near your chest for a long time with the neck bent develops something called “text neck.” This position is not relaxing for your neck at all, and can cause a stiff neck, pain, muscular weakness, and headaches.

What to do:

  • Bring your device to your eye level.
  • Take breaks from your phones and stretch your neck.
  • Maintain good posture.

3. Not using cold water at the end of your shower session

Even if a cold shower doesn’t seem pleasant to you, this procedure has a lot of health benefits. Alternating hot and cold water will help you to improve your blood circulation, lymphatic flow, strengthen your immune system, improve your skin condition, and even release stress and stimulate weight loss. Just 10-30 seconds are worth the effort for the amazing results they provide!

What to do:

  • Start with your normal warm shower and by the end of it, turn the temperature down. Spend approximately 10 seconds in this cold water when you’re just starting this habit.
  • And eventually work your way up to 30 seconds.

4. Washing your face after your workout, but not before

Washing your face right after the gym looks like a good idea for those who like to take care of their skin. Though, we usually forget to do it before we start training too. It’s important to wash your face properly and remove all the make-up and dirt before a workout session. If you don’t do it, then all of this can combine with the sweat and clog your pores. Washing all of this off after your training session means you rub more sweat, dirt, and oil into your skin, which might lead to skin problems later.

What to do:

  • Make sure that you remove all of your make up and wash your face before your work out session.
  • During the session, don’t wipe the sweat around your face — this will push the leftover make up and dirt back in your pores. Just dab your face with a cotton towel.
  • Gently wash your face after the session.

5. Not washing pre-washed salad

“Pre-washed” on the package doesn’t mean that the product is 100% clean and ready to be used for your salad. There is always a chance that some dirt, bugs, or chemicals will remain and be packed together with this product. It’s better to be safe and spend an extra 2 minutes on washing your food, than to get sick.

What to do:

  • The best way to do this is to spend a couple of minutes and wash your greens one more time before you serve them.

6. Bringing electronics into bed with you

Scrolling through your social media feed or playing your favorite game right before bed isn’t as harmless as you might think. First, the light from the phone screen that shines directly into your eyes decreases the production of the hormone melatonin that regulates your sleep. Second, this will make you feel more tired and affect your concentration.

What to do:

  • Try removing your phones and other devices from your room during bedtime.
  • Read a book or listen to some relaxing music instead.
  • If you need to look at your phone during this time, set your phone screen to the “night shift” mode. This will decrease the blue light.

7. Holding in a sneeze

Holding your nose while sneezing can be very dangerous. This can create problems like having air trapped in your chest between both lungs, breaking your ear drum, or ballooning the blood vessels in your brain. Sneezing is the natural way for our nose to “reset” and remove bacteria and dust, it’s better to not interrupt this process.

What to do:

  • Just sneeze freely. If you don’t want to make a mess, then just cover your mouth area with a napkin or your hands, but don’t squeeze your nose.

8. Holding in farts

Farting is usually associated with something indecent and even disgusting, so we try to do our best to hold them in by any means. This gas does not disappear inside of us if we hold it in, as much as we wish it would. Instead, it tries to find other ways out, like through our mouth, for example. Holding this gas in can make your abdomen extend and it could even get absorbed by your circulation which means that some of this gas could be exhaled through your mouth.

What to do:

  • When you feel that you need to let the gas out, go to a secluded place to do it.
  • If you often have a lot of gas, try to chew slower when you eat. This will reduce the air in your stomach. Also, avoid foods that can make you produce gas like beans.
  • If you feel that you always have an excessive amount of gas, you should consult with your doctor.

9. Using headphones to listen to loud music

The best thing about headphones is the privacy they give us. Though, we have to keep in mind that using them should be done without any harm to our health. Sometimes a favorite song is so good that people turn the volume up to harmful levels. Listening to loud blasting beats can lead to hearing damage and even hearing loss.

What to do:

  • Invest in a good pair of quality headphones with noise isolation, so when you listen to music on the street, you don’t have to turn them up louder to overpower the noise around you.
  • While listening to music in a quiet place, lower the volume and shorten your listening time.

10. Drinking coffee right after you wake up

A cup of coffee in the morning is an essential energy boost for many early birds. At least, that’s what they think. Our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol, which is also called a “stress hormone,” as its production increases when we are scared or stressed. The production of this hormone is high in the morning and caffeine interferes with this process. The body then creates less of this hormone and relies on caffeine more, and we get an energy boost from coffee instead of our own body.

What to do:

  • Reduce our daily consumption of coffee.
  • If you still want a cup of it in the morning, drink one about 3 hours after you wake up.

11. Using antibacterial products

Some of us are really concerned about all the harmful bacteria around us and are constantly using hand sanitizers to kill it. Most antibacterial soaps contain an ingredient called triclosan. Certain bacteria that come into contact with it can undergo a mutation that might make them resistant to it, and to some antibiotics. For example, to those that are used to treat tuberculosis. Basically, it might lead to antibacterial resistance, though this has only been proven in a lab.

What to do:

  • Nothing kills bacteria better than soap. Try to wash your hands with it when you have a chance, instead of using a sanitizer.

Have we listed any of your daily habits? Do you have other rituals that you enjoy doing throughout the day? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Please note: This article was updated in January 2023 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
Illustrated by Daniil Shubin for Bright Side


I love hot showers because they make me feel relaxed. But maybe I should try a session of a cold shower from time to time
I guess it's hard to find a person right now, who owns a phone, uses it daily and doesn't look at it with the "text neck" :(
Can't live without me phone.. I start my morning with it, and I end my day looking at its screen too

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