OK, so I'm not saying you need to live in fear 24/7. That's not ideal, by any stretch of the imagination. And it's certainly not healthy or necessary. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't be aware of all the ways you might be putting yourself in danger. Whether it's when walking home from work, meeting up for a date, or while using your phone, there are (unfortunately) lots of little moments when things can go wrong.
The good news, however, is that so much of your safety is within your control. "We can take a proactive approach to enhance our safety by becoming more aware of our surroundings, habits, and tuning into our instinctive gut feelings," self defense expert Jennifer Cassetta tells Bustle. That applies to being out and about in the world, of course, but also when taking care of your health.
By keeping your safety in the back of your mind at all times, you'll be better able to recognize potential problems before they happen. And, you'll be more prepared for the little situations that can be all sorts of unsafe. Read on for some common ways you might be putting yourself in danger every day, as well as what to do about it.
1. Not Trusting Your Gut
When it comes to staying safe, sometimes the most important thing you can do is listen to your instincts. "More often than not, our 'gut feelings' are correct," Sage Singleton, a safety expert at SafeWise, tells Bustle. "If you're out and about and something feels wrong, it probably is. Listen to your intuition and get to a safe place if you feel like something is amiss."
2. Meeting Your Date Somewhere Private
When going out for the first time with someone you met online, be sure you take every precaution possible. "Don't invite [them] over to your home ... and don't meet at their place for the first time," says Singleton. "Meet up at a safe, public location so you can assess your date, and stay safe in the long run." And, while you're at it, let your friends or roommates know where you'll be so they can come bail you out if necessary.
3. Wearing Headphones While Out Alone
It may be tempting to listen to music when walking or jogging around town, but it's definitely not a good idea. "You must be able to hear your surroundings," Cassetta says. With headphones in, it's impossible to know when someone is coming up behind you. They also make you appear distracted, which is something many potential attackers look for.
4. Sitting At Your Desk For Hours And Hours
While it can't always be helped, try to add as much movement to your day as possible. "Studies suggest that sitting for long periods puts us at risk for heart disease, cancer, and anxiety, to name a few," says Emily Long, a safety expert at SafeWise. "Simple solutions can have a significant impact, so get a standing desk, schedule breaks, or go for a walk around the block."
5. Going Outside Sans Sunscreen
While it doesn't feel like a big deal, sun exposure — even the small doses you get while walking to work — can add up over time and increase your risk of skin cancer. So don't forget to butter up before leaving your house. As board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD says, "Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen every single day and re-apply every two to three hours if you will be hanging out outdoors or if you swim/sweat profusely."
6. Not Drinking Enough Water
Most of us aren't drinking enough water, and that's not good. "Dehydration is very common, as many people don’t realize ... how much water we lose," Dr. Robert Korn, medical director at Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care, tells Bustle. If you don't drink enough water, or are sweating a lot, you might experience dehydration symptoms such as fatigue, constipation, headaches, and even a racing heart. If any of that sounds familiar, make a point to drink up.
7. Wearing Super High Heels Every Day
Hey, if you wear high heels every day and feel comfy, then more power to you. But the rest of us are likely injuring our feet. "Heels can cause ankle sprains, tight calves, which can lead to plantar fascitis, and metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of the foot)," says physical therapist Dr. Karena Wu says. If you feel sprained or strained, it may be time to switch on over to flats.
8. Forgetting To Read Beauty Product Labels
While it's not necessary to panic and throw out all your products, it is important to remember that many makeup and skincare brands contain toxins that can affect your health over time — especially if you use several products a day. "According to a study by the Environmental Working Group, women in the US apply an average of 168 chemicals to their faces and bodies every single day," Diane Elizabeth, beauty expert and founder of Skin Care Ox, tells Bustle. She suggests reading the ingredient labels and, if you don't recognize one, to do a quick search online. "This only takes a few minutes and you'll learn a ton of information about the quality of the product."
9. Taking Too Many Dietary Supplements
While this may sound surprising, it is possible to take too many vitamins. "For example, taking too much supplemental calcium may lead to heart disease and stroke as calcium can deposit in your blood vessels," says Arielle Levitan, MD, founder of Vous Vitamins. Same goes for too much vitamin A, which Levitan tells me is associated with cancer and osteoporosis. If you think your multi vitamins contain an excessive amount, talk with your doctor to figure out a safer dose.
10. Not Choosing The Safest Passwords
Using the same password for everything might seem like it's making your life easier. But that's only until something bad happens, like a hacked bank account. "Weak, guessable passwords make it a lot easier for hackers to access your personal information and do significant damage before you even realize it's happening," Long says. So from now on, promise yourself you'll be a little more careful when it comes to everything you do online.
11. Keeping Personal Care Products For Forever
If your bathroom is littered with makeup and skincare products that are old AF, it may be time to purge. "Yes, it's hard to toss the remnants of an expensive bottle of cream or eyeshadow compact, but these products can grow gross bacteria and essentially spoil," Long says. So go through it all and be ruthless with those expiration dates. Your skin will be glad you did.
12. Walking Around While Looking At Your Phone
We all do it, and yet hardly anyone acknowledges how truly dangerous it is to text and walk at the same time. "Awareness is impossible if we are constantly plugged into our devices," Cassetta says. Not only are you putting yourself at risk for walking into traffic or tripping over a sidewalk grate, but you're also looking mighty distracted. And that's not good.
13. Eating Way Too Much Sugar
If you're like me, you kind of need donuts in your life. And that's OK. But that doesn't mean you should eat sugary foods all day long. "Eating too much sugar is one of the most common ways people risk their health every day," healthy lifestyle expert Brooke Thomas tells Bustle. "From that morning coffee full of sugar and syrup, to yogurt disguised as healthy with fruit, sugar increases inflammation, feeds sickness and disease, and is as addicting as cocaine." Definitely not worth it.
14. Forgetting To Lock Your Doors
It sounds so simple, and yet how many times have you hung out at home without locking your doors? And how many more times have you gotten into your car, and not immediately checked the locks? If you do this on the regular, Cassetta tells me you could be putting safety at risk.
15. Using Cheap Phone Chargers
Like most people, your life probably depends on your phone charger. So I totally understand the desire to pick up a cheap one, or to use an off-brand version around your house. But don't. "[These] chargers and extension cords can cause electric shocks, burns, and even start fires," says Brett Brenner, president of Electric Safety Foundation International. "When purchasing electrical products ... check for a 'UL' marking on the back of any product to see if it is certified."
Little tricks like these are an excellent way to stay safer, as are staying aware or your surroundings and always thinking ahead. If you trust your gut and put your own safety before anything else, you'll be less likely to have a problem.
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