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Emotional Wellness

7 Toxic Habits You Need to Quit Right Now

“Don’t let toxic people sabotage your happiness, ruin your positive attitude, contaminate your mind or destroy your self-confidence. Instead, surround yourself with generous, positive, and nurturing people who will lift you up.”—Farshad Asl

Habits are not active choices you make.

“A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”—Oxford Languages Dictionary

“A usual way of behaving; something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way.”—Encyclopedia Britannica Dictionary

 Thus, habits are automatic responses without thinking about them.

Some habits are labeled “good” because they benefit us somehow.

We view other practices as “bad” or “toxic” because they harm oneself or others and mental and physical health.

Toxic habits, by their very nature, do not lead to happiness.

You are unlikely to build positive relationships if you exhibit toxic or poisonous behaviors.

And you can be confident that you are doing more harm than good to your well-being when you exhibit dangerous behavior toward others.

So, what can you do, and why is it so hard to stop exhibiting bad habits?

This article will discuss seven toxic habits and what you can do about them.

7 Toxic HabitsBlackboard with Urgent Messages


Procrastination: Delaying or putting off tasks that need completing can cause stress, anxiety, and missed deadlines—and is a destructive habit you must overcome.

“Procrastination is the thief of time.”—Edward Young, c. 1742

How do you catch the thief?

Understand why you are procrastinating.

Do you procrastinate because of the following:

Habit—you enjoy the excitement you get by doing it at the very last moment, or if you wait until the last minute, you’ll have more motivation to finish it.

Attitude—you don’t desire to do the assignment, you want to do something else, or you lack self-discipline.

Fear—you’re not sure you can do it, it’s too big a project, and you fear you’ll be criticized or embarrassed.

What You Can Do About Procrastination:

Make a list. Do this the night before.

Tell time. If you are always running late, literally running because you are late, learn to tell time. Add a few extra minutes to the task for the “disaster” that may happen.

Delegate. You may only need to do some things yourself.

Slice it. Why not slice the enormous task into smaller ones?

Plan for interruptions. There are always interruptions in your day: phone calls, visitors, problems, text messages, and email. Allow time daily for unexpected developments.

Reward. Work hard for 90 minutes, then take a short break to pause, stretch, and reflect.

Habit #2

Substance abuse: Regularly using drugs or alcohol can lead to addiction, health problems, and impaired judgment. You must quit this harmful habit now!

“Literature on elderly women and substance abuse is sparse. What data exist support the following conclusions: 1) older women are at risk for self-medicating with prescription drugs and alcohol and have more risk for drug-drug and drug-alcohol interactions, 2) women are more likely to be prescribed psychotropics, 3) older women are at greater risk for prescription drug abuse by physician or physicians than other age groups.”


Check out the article on cannabis (marijuana), a psychotropic drug popular among older adults, on my blog for a more detailed discussion.

Physical risk factors for substance abuse include:

Chronic pain

Physical disabilities

Change in income

Poor health status

Loss of a loved one

Taking a lot of medicines and supplements

Scary things happen to your body when you abuse substances:

Memory loss or confusion

Sleep problems

Raised blood pressure

Increased risk to your heart

Anxiety or depression

Loss of interest

Mood swings

And if you have a medical condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or depression, these conditions get worse with substance abuse.

Experts recommend that older people have no more than seven alcoholic drinks per week.

What You Can Do About Substance Abuse:

  1. See your doctor first and foremost.
  2. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  3. Motivational enhancement therapy (MET)
  4. Multidimensional family therapy (MDFT)
  5. 12-step therapy program
  6. Support groups


Negative self-talk: Another toxic and dangerous habit is constantly criticizing and belittling oneself can lead to low self-esteem and depression.

How do you view yourself?

  • Optimist: You are hopeful, confident, and cheerful.
  • Pessimist: You tend to believe the worst will happen.
  • Realist: You mainly accept situations and prepare to deal with whatever happens.

Why does it matter?

According to research, optimism benefits your health in several ways:

  • You feel happier.
  • You are more successful.
  • You have better physical and mental outcomes.
  • You are more resistant to stress.
  • You have less depression.
  • You have better relationships.
  • You are better able to fight illnesses.

And cultivate gratitude.

A grateful spirit will help you focus on what’s going right in your life rather than everything that seems wrong.

Optimism promotes a sense of well-being during challenging times.

I invite you to check out this article on my blog that discusses how to get rid of automatic negative thoughts:


Emotional eating: Using food to cope with negative emotions is not only unsafe but can help lead to weight gain and health problems.

What is an emotional eater?

Emotional eating is eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness, and loneliness. Major life events or, more commonly, the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional earing and disrupts your weight-loss efforts.”


We must eat to survive.

We find pleasure in our food choices, for the most part.

But if you regularly binge-guilt-binge, you could suffer from Binge Eating Disorder (BED), a severe and life-threatening mental illness.

BED, characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort), can occur.

Following a binge, you often feel distressed or shame.

BED is the most common eating disorder in the United States.

Do you want to break the cycle of emotional eating?

What You Can Do About Emotional Eating:

  • Exercise and work up a sweat (endorphins that interact with your brain calm and relax you).
  • Drink water until the urge passes.
  • Make healthy choices when you shop so as not to tempt yourself.
  • Make substitutes for a pizza craving with taco salad instead.
  • Get support from family and friends or talk with a mental health professional.
  • Keep a food diary.
  • Focus on your weight and health goals.
  • Learn from your mistakes; don’t beat yourself up.



Overworking: Working excessively is a toxic habit that can lead to burnout, fatigue, and health problems.

The work paradox: Some work to live, and others live to work. Others die at or because of their work.

How do you view work?

People devote the largest segment of their waking hours to work.

Work may determine where we live and what kind of lifestyle we have.

Some of us get great satisfaction from our jobs.

Others measure the value of work by income or prestige.

And still, others work to fill the time, and some view their work as a time waster.

Ask yourself: where do I fall on this spectrum?

What You Can Do About Workaholism

Are you a diligent worker?

Psychologist Steven Berglas describes the industrious worker:

“The diligent worker has reached the pinnacle of his career only to feel chronic trepidation, distress, despondency or depression attributable to the belief that he is trapped in a job, or on a career path, from which he can neither escape nor derive psychological gratification.”

And what often happens to the conscientious worker?

Burnout is nothing to take lightly.

In the mid-1970s, Herbert Freudenberger and other researchers took up this term and described burnout: as “a state of exhaustion resulting from involvement with people in emotionally demanding situations.”

The classic five stages of burnout:

  1. Honeymoon phase.
  2. The onset of stress.
  3. Chronic stress
  4. Apathy and despair (burnout).
  5. Habitual burnout.

Your personality and how you deal with challenging situations in life have a lot to do with whether you succumb to burnout:

  • Are you an overachiever?
  • Do you stress about fitting in with others?
  • Do you want to control others?
  • Are you unable to express confidence?
  • Are you unable to accept challenges?
  • Are you unable to remain committed?

Experts say the way to avoid burnout is to manage your energy.


Five tips to ensure ample energy:

  1. Good nutrition
  2. Avoid multitasking
  3. Exercise
  4. Meditate
  5. Sleep

So, while most of us must work, avoid overworking, which is toxic, dangerous behavior. Your health suffers when you work “excessively.”

“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.”—Aristotle


Perfectionism: Setting unrealistically high standards for oneself is toxic and can lead to stress, anxiety, and self-criticism.

“Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.”—Anne Wilson Schaef

Are you a perfectionist?

Identifying Perfectionism:

  • Do you have a fear of failure?
  • Do you focus on being self-critical?
  • Do you work on a task until you think it is perfect?
  • Are you defensive when you receive feedback?
  • Do you distrust others to complete a task relying only on yourself?
  • Do you procrastinate and resist starting a job until you can complete it impeccably?

There would be hope if you answered ‘yes’ to the above questions.

What You Can Do About Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a personality trait, not a mental health disorder.

Striving to be perfect can be a challenging mindset to overcome, but it is possible with consistent effort and practice.

Follow these tips to overcome the obsessive desire to be perfect:

  1. Recognize that perfectionism is not a healthy mindset. Perfectionism can be detrimental to your mental health, relationships, and productivity. Accept that perfection is unattainable, and strive instead for progress and improvement.
  2. Set realistic expectations. Set goals that are challenging but achievable.
  3. Practice self-compassion: Be kind and gentle with yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself when things don’t go as planned, and recognize that everyone makes mistakes.
  4. Focus on the process, not the outcome: Enjoy the journey of learning and growing, and don’t focus on the result. Celebrate small achievements and progress along the way.
  5. Learn to let go: Sometimes, you must accept that things may not be perfect or exactly how you want them to be. Practice letting go of your need for control and perfection, and accept that imperfection is a natural part of life.
  6. Challenge your perfectionistic thoughts: Identify and challenge any negative or perfectionistic that arise. Ask yourself if these thoughts are rational and realistic, and try to frame them more positively and naturally.
  7. Seek support: Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist for help and guidance in overcoming perfectionism. Remember that you don’t have to go it alone.

Remember, overcoming perfectionism is a process that takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself, and celebrate your progress along the way.


Avoidance: Avoiding problems or difficult situations is harmful to you and can lead to increased anxiety and stress.

“Avoidance is the best short-term strategy to escape conflict, and the best long-term strategy to ensure suffering.”—Brendon Burchard

Avoidance can be a coping mechanism for dealing with difficult or uncomfortable situations, thoughts, or emotions.

However, while avoidance can temporarily relieve, it can also cause problems in the long run.

Here are some common problems associated with avoidance:

  1. Procrastination: Avoidance can lead to procrastination, where you put off important tasks or responsibilities, which can cause stress and anxiety and may lead to a cycle of avoidance and procrastination.
  2. Missed opportunities: Avoidance can prevent you from taking advantage of opportunities that come your way. For example, avoiding social situations can prevent you from making new friends or networking.
  3. Negative impact on relationships: Avoiding difficult conversations or conflicts can lead to misunderstandings, resentment, and damaged relationships.
  4. Increased anxiety: Avoidance can temporarily relieve pressure, but it can increase anxiety and stress in the long run. Avoiding situations or activities can reinforce the belief that they are dangerous or threatening, making it harder to confront them in the future.
  5. Low self-esteem: Avoidance can lead to guilt, shame, and low self-esteem. If you constantly avoid challenges or difficult situations, you may doubt your abilities and feel like a failure.

What You Can Do About Avoidance

Overcoming avoidance behavior can be challenging, but several strategies can be helpful:

  1. Identify triggers: Identify the situations or events that lead to your avoidance behavior. Once you have identified them, you can begin to develop a plan for how to handle them.
  2. Set goals: Setting specific goals can help you overcome avoidance behavior. Start with small goals and gradually work up to larger ones.
  3. Practice relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help reduce anxiety and stress, which can contribute to avoidance behavior.
  4. Use positive self-talk: Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Encourage yourself to act and remind yourself of the benefits of facing your fears.
  5. Seek support: Talk to a trusted friend or family member, or consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor.
  6. Take small steps: Start with small, manageable steps to gradually build up your confidence and ability to face your fears.

Remember that overcoming avoidance behavior takes time and effort.

Be patient with yourself and celebrate your progress along the way.

 Key Takeaways

The seven toxic habits you need to quit right now include:

  1. Procrastination
  2. Substance abuse
  3. Negative self-talk
  4. Emotional eating
  5. Overworking
  6. Perfectionism
  7. Avoidance

Everyone displays some toxic traits from time to time.

And most people with toxic habits know they have them.

However, we cannot use someone else’s manners.

But be aware that harmful behavior can hurt our emotional well-being.

So why not begin today by reviewing the practices discussed in this article that could harm you?

Suppose you recognize that you exhibit any of the harmful conduct presented. In that case, I implore you to use the tips and strategies suggested in this article to quit the habit immediately!

You will not only have improved physical and emotional health by doing so but will also experience greater joy and happiness.

Don’t wait another moment. Begin today!!