7 Habits That Seem Good For You But Actually Aren't

Taking care of yourself seems pretty intuitive — sleep when you're tired, eat when you're hungry, and make sure you get a little exercise if it makes you feel your best. These are the keys to health. But what happens when you do things you think are healthy that are actually bad for you in reality? Bad habits are incredibly hard to spot or correct when they seem like something you should be doing in the first place. It's a little confusing, to say the least.

And these bad habits have a way of accumulating. We pick up our health information as we go, often from our parents, or TV shows, or from some fad diet book we had lying around. While these can be reputable sources (parents), others are not (fad diet books). And yet this information sticks, and it affects everything we do from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed.

It can be easy to get stuck in your ways and have the same habits for a lifetime. So, let's take a moment for some reassessment. You may be surprised to learn what little, seemingly innocent things you are doing to yourself that are actually detrimental. Take a look at the list below for how to tweak your routines to improve your health.

1. Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard

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When something's dirty, you clean it, right? And if it's really dirty, well, you clean it a little harder. This theory makes sense when it comes to scrubbing boots, or a dirty floor. But applying a little extra elbow grease while brushing your pearly whites can actually do more harm than good. According to WebMD, brushing your teeth too hard can cause receding gumlines and tooth sensitivity. Gum recession is an irreversible condition that happens when your gums start to erode, leaving your mouth sensitive to hot and cold.

Instead of brushing with all your might, use a lighter touch and a soft bristle toothbrush. Or, invest in an electric toothbrush that'll do the work for you.

2. Taking Too Many Vitamins

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If you feel a cold coming on, you may pop a few extra vitamins. Then a few more for good measure, and a couple extra because they're straight up fruity and delicious. Pretty soon you've gobbled down half the bottle. Vitamins are good for you, after all, so you're sure eating a whole bunch will cure what ails you.

Sorry to ruin your snack, but eating more than the recommended dose of your Flintstones isn’t the way to go. This is definitely a case of “too much of a good thing.” Some vitamins, like vitamin C, are water soluble. If you take a little bit too much, you'll simple pee out the excess. Other vitamins, like vitamin D, are fat soluble. This means they dissolve in fat and are then stored away in the body's tissues, where they can accumulate to dangerous levels. Overdoing it on these may eventually lead to toxicity, according to Ruth Frechman, MS, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association in an article for WebMD.

Be sure to stick to the recommended dose on the bottle, and add in some extra vitamin C if you are feeling sick.

3. Napping Throughout The Day

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Yes, taking a swan dive into bed at 5 p.m. is awesome. But waking up at midnight not knowing who you are, where you are, or what day it is can be pretty disorienting. This uncomfortable side effect of napping is known as sleep inertia, according to the Mayo Clinic, and it's caused by waking abruptly during REM sleep when you still have high levels of melatonin.

Napping can also make it more difficult to sleep properly at night, especially if you have insomnia. The best course of action is to stick to a strict bedtime schedule, where you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. But if you absolutely must nap, take a short 10 to 30 minute snooze sometime in the afternoon. Around 2 p.m. is when it's natural to feel a bit sleepy, according to the Mayo Clinic, and this time frame is the least likely to impact your nighttime sleep. To get the most of your nap, make sure you're in a quiet, dark room and be sure to give yourself plenty of time to fully wake up before going on with your day.

4. Skipping Breakfast

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Most people I know skip breakfast for one reason or another. Either they don't like to eat right after waking up, they don't have time, or they heard some theory about it being "good" for you (usually related to a diet fad). The truth is that breakfast is probably the most important meal of the day. It literally "breaks" the "fast" from the night before, and kick-starts your metabolism for the day. Having a morning meal will also help prevent the late morning zone-out so many of us experience.

The thing to keep in mind for a healthy breakfast is protein. According to lifestyle writer Jason Fitzpatrick at Lifehacker, "In addition to increasing your early morning calorie intake and decreasing your evening calorie intake, you need to incorporate protein. Nearly all cases of mid-morning blahs, afternoon space-outs, and general exhaustion at work ... can be attributed to low blood sugar." While a doughnut may sound delicious, the carbohydrate will spike your blood sugar and then cause a horrible, tiring crash. Protein, on the other hand, will help stabilize your blood sugar throughout the day, so you won't be falling asleep at your desk.

5. Exercising, No Matter What

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If you get sick or injured, it can be tough to let your exercise regimen slide, especially when you just got yourself into a workout groove. There are several cases when it's OK to push through, and other times when it's better to give yourself time to heal. If a sickness strikes you down, the general rule is that it's OK to exercise if the illness is "above the neck," according to Edward R. Laskowski, MD, in an article for the Mayo Clinic. This includes any type of head cold or stuffy nose. In fact, a little jog may even help you feel better by relieving congestion. But avoid exercise if the illness is in your chest, you have a cough, are nauseous or achy, or have a fever.

As for exercising while injured, it depends on the type of problem you're dealing with. Lots of bodybuilders will push through the pain, but they're usually talking about the constant soreness they experience from being bodybuilders. Even they won't workout if they are truly injured, and you shouldn't either. Working out while injured may cause you to compensate, and say, hold a weight incorrectly, to avoid being in pain, according to Everyday Health. Doing so can throw your whole body out of whack and even injure you further. The best course of action is to rest up until you feel better.

6. Popping A Zit

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Popping a zit always seems like the right thing to do. There it is, lurking on your cheek, expanding to incredible proportions, and basically begging to be popped. But wait! There are many things to consider before you go squeezing away.

Pimples are full of pus and white blood cells, and so is the subcutaneous tissue beneath your skin, according to The Science Of Acne. What this means is that you aren't just dealing with the sucker you can see on the surface, but an entire host of problems lurking below. Squeezing a zit before it's ready can force bacteria deep into your skin, causing further infection and scarring, and increasing the amount of time it will take to heal.

So how do you know when or if it's okay to pop? Choosing the correct type of zit is key. Avoid cysts and nodules at all costs. These deep zits are inflamed shut and will be impossible to pop without doing more harm than good. What you want to look out for are whiteheads, which will drain easily because the pus is near at the surface. To properly remove a whitehead, use a disinfected needle to prick the surface, and then, with clean hands and a tissue, gently squeeze in a "down and in" motion, according to Acne.org. If the pimple is ready, it'll pop immediately. If there is any resistance, stop squeezing and wait a few more days.

7. Cutting Out An Entire Food Group

There's always some news being passed around about the latest way to eat healthy or lose weight, and it often involves cutting something out of your diet. We've seen everything from the anti-carb craze to the fat-free frenzy. People jump on board, thinking that cutting this food group or that may finally do the trick and give them the body of their dreams.

The truth is, though, that your body needs all the food groups, and fad diets are just that... fads. According to health writer Stephanie Watson in an article for WebMD, "There was a time when 'low-fat' and 'fat-free' were dieters' mantras. Food manufacturers catered to this trend by introducing trimmed-down versions of their products, such as fat-free cookies and low-fat salad dressings — and many people promptly went overboard. But fat is no longer the dietary bad guy. Doctors and dietitians stress that fats are good for us. We need them."

It can be tricky to take care of yourself properly, especially with all the mixed messages and fads out there. So be sure to do your research and look out for your own health.

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