10 Things You Should Avoid for a Happier and Healthier Life

10 Things You Should Avoid for a Happier & Healthier Life Pin 2

A happier and healthier life.

I think that’s something we all aspire to, right?

Well, it’s no secret that diet, exercise and meditation can help us live longer, fuller lives.

But, what things should we should be saying “no” to?

While some habits help us to achieve our goals, other habits make our lives worse and hold us back from our true potential.

Here are 10 things that I generally try to avoid (and you should too!) to improve my health and happiness:

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1. Clutter (Physical and Mental)

avoid clutter for a happier and healthier life

Are you surrounded by stacks of papers, heaps of clothes or just piles of random stuff you’ve been meaning to go through?

That seemingly innocuous clutter may be hurting your health more than you think. Studies have linked physical clutter to:

  • Depressed mood
  • Disrupted focus
  • Fatigue
  • Increased levels of cortisol (stress hormone)
  • Life dissatisfaction
  • Obesity
  • Poor coping skills
  • Procrastination
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Unhealthy eating
  • The bottom line is, our brains’ ability to process multiple stimuli is limited.

    Too many things in our visual field prevents us from being able to really focus on what’s important.

    So, getting rid of those unused or unwanted possessions may be the first step towards increasing your productivity and getting more done in less time.

    Mental Clutter Can Lead to Overwhelm

    And don’t forget about mental clutter – it needs to be addressed too.

    Our brains can become overwhelmed by our never-ending thoughts and to-do lists.

    Something that works wonders for me is the brain dump.

    Transferring all that pent up information from your brain to a piece of paper works wonders!

    Once you see what you’re working with, you can better determine how things should be organized and in what order tasks should be tackled, if at all.

    Plus, it always makes me feel better to just get it all out. The brain dump is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress with self care and a great thing to incorporate into your self care Sunday routine. 

    👇 I created these brain dump worksheets. Be sure to grab them from the Freebie Library if you’d like to give it a try!  👇

    Brain Dump Printables

    Things to Avoid for a Happier and Healthier Life 

    #2. Sweating the Small Stuff

    One thing I try my best to avoid is sweating the small stuff.

    If you can learn to not get stressed out over every little thing, I promise you will live a happier and healthier life!

    There are already enough stressful things going on that are in our control.

    We don’t need to make things worse by stressing over the things that aren’t.

    If I notice that I’m overreacting, what helps me is to put things in perspective.

    Sometimes all you have to do is take a step back and look at the situation through a different lens to realize – it’s not that serious.

    So, ask yourself:

  • Is it in your control?
  • Is it life or death?
  • If not, then simplify your life and let it go!

    Your health is way more important.

    By now, we probably all know the harmful effects of stress on both our minds and bodies.

    But just as a reminder, chronic stress can cause accelerated aging, cancer, depression, heart disease, reproductive problems, weight gain, and a whole host of other health issues.

    Consider making yourself a self-care box to open when you're feeling stressed out. 

    Gratitude Increases Happiness

    Another thing that helps is gratitude.

    Because your happiness, to a large degree, depends upon your perception.

    Remember that only 10% of happiness is determined by life circumstances like how much money you have, how healthy you are, what you look like, etc.

    And 50% is determined by genetics.

    The other 40% is up to you.

    Your mindset is truly the key to living a healthy, happy life no matter what.

    Bad things happen to all of us. We don’t have much control over that.

    What we do have control over is how we react.

    So, how will you frame that experience? How quickly will you bounce back from it? What valuable life lessons will you take away from it?

    3. Negativity/Toxic People

    If you want to live a happier and healthier life, you’ve got to limit the amount of negativity in your environment.

    Negative energy could also be coming from toxic people in your life who are trying to tear you down or people who selfishly drain your time and energy.

    Negativity could also be coming from you.

    Are you overly critical of yourself?

    Have you allowed your fears to hold you back from going after what you want in life?

    Do you have any limiting beliefs that are inhibiting your success?

    If so, remember that thoughts are not facts.

    You can transform limiting beliefs to empowering beliefs.

    Your intelligence, skills, abilities, and mindset can all be developed over time. You have the power to change the things you don’t like and improve the things you do.

    You can create a success mindset by defining success for yourselfdeveloping self-confidencesetting intrinsic goals that lead to personal fulfillment, and implementing the habits of success.

    Things to Avoid for a Happier and Healthier Life 

    4. Eating Processed/GMO/Factory Farm Food

    It’s so weird that we have to check whether the food we’re buying is actually real!

    But, it is what it is.

    Processed foods, food-like substances, and genetically modified organisms are all too common these days.

    Given that what we eat affects our well-being, we, as consumers, have to be especially careful what we put into our bodies.

    Especially since chronic diseases are increasing worldwide.

    In fact, by 2020, they’re expected to rise by 57%, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 6 in 10 adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease. And 4 in 10 have two or more chronic diseases!

    Diet is Important

    Many of these chronic diseases are attributable to diet, such as obesity, heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

    The CDC website lists poor nutrition as one of the key lifestyle risks for chronic disease.

    Your diet affects your health, your quality of life and ultimately your happiness.

    Also, I believe that the energy of the food you eat matters.

    Where it came from, how it was (or wasn’t) cared for, and the conditions in which it lived/died are all stored in its cellular memory, which you then consume.

    So, make sure what you are eating is good for your health and happiness.

    *I won’t go into the details of factory farms in this article but suffice it to say that it is shockingly horrendous.

    5. Drinking the following beverages:

    avoid these beverages to be happier and healthier

    The drinks you consume impact your happiness and your health.

    But, I don’t think you have to avoid all of these things completely. It’s perfectly ok to splurge every once in a while!

    As with food, it’s about moderation.

    Beverages to Avoid for a Happier and Healthier Life

    Try to avoid these as much as possible for a brighter, more blissful life:

    • Alcohol- Drinking alcohol dehydrates you, makes you irritable, weakens your resilience, and is a habit that makes anxiety worse. Alcoholism can lead to health problems involving the brain, colon, esophagus, heart, liver, pancreas, and other parts of the body.
    • Cow Milk- Despite the widespread myth that milk “does a body good, studies have shown that it actually depletes calcium from your bones. Drink cashew milk or almond milk instead. I love Silk Unsweetened Cashew Milk.
    • Energy Drinks- So bad for your health! Energy drinks are basically a deadly concoction of caffeine, sugar, and other dangerous additives like guarana and taurine that can your heart rate and cause you to have a panic attack (or even a heart attack).
    • Tap Water- Believe it or not, there may be contaminants that are harmful to your health in your drinking water. Tap water contains toxins such as fluoride, chlorine, lead, mercury and arsenic, so make sure the water you drink is purified.
    • Soda- One of the main ingredients in most sodas is high fructose corn syrup, which is pretty much the worst thing you can possibly consume. And diet sodas usually contain aspartame or other types of artificial sweeteners, which are also not good for your health.

    *Refined Sugar

    To avoid refined sugar, I make my own ketchup, tomato sauces, salad dressings, fruit purees, and smoothies from scratch. Check out these sweet & simple recipes for some healthy ideas!

    Things to Avoid for a Happier and Healthier Life 

    6. Going Out to Eat/Fast Food

    I cook every single day and rarely go out to eat.

    It’s something that I really enjoy doing and I think it’s a huge part of having a healthy, happy life.

    When you cook your own meals from scratch, you know exactly what – and how much – is going into them.

    Whereas, when you go out to eat, you don’t know what/how much oil or butter the chefs are cooking with, where the meat came from, etc.

    So, you may be consuming more calories without even knowing it!

    According to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, when we eat out at restaurants, we consume about 200 calories more than when we eat at home.

    Save Time & Money By Eating at Home

    Also, going out to eat can quickly become very expensive if it becomes a habit.

    According to the American Psychiatric Association, more than 67% of Americans are “somewhat or extremely anxious” over finances.

    You can save a lot of money by shopping for, and preparing, your own meals.

    And I bet you can make way more delicious dishes than the ones you’d get at a restaurant or fast food joint!

    Also, don’t forget about all the extra time it takes to get ready, travel to the restaurant, wait for your meal to be prepared, pay the bill and make your way back home.

    Don't get me wrong, I love going out to eat! But, it's a special event, not a regular occurrence. 

    Fast food is another thing I generally avoid, especially since it’s one of the worst things you can eat if you have anxiety.

    There are plenty of stress-reducing alternatives that are good for your health and your taste buds.

    7. Microwaves 

    microwave is not good for your health

    I don’t have a microwave.

    Haven’t for about a year now.

    And I (surprisingly) do not miss it at all!

    In fact, I really enjoy having my food freshly prepared and not zapped by high-frequency waves of heat.

    And honestly, food that’s heated or reheated in the microwave just doesn’t taste as good as oven-baked, pan fried or crock-pot cooked food.

    While foods generally lose some nutrients when they are boiled, roasted, fried or otherwise cooked, they become even more stripped away in the microwave.

    Prepare Your Food Safely

    Weakened cell membranes, increased white blood cells and many other negative health effects of microwaving food have also been documented.

    Plus, most people wrap their plate or bowl in plastic wrap before popping it in the microwave.

    This can cause bisphenol-A (BPA), a harmful chemical, to leak into food.

    So, be careful with not only what you eat, but also how you prepare it.

    Just because something says “microwave safe” doesn’t mean that it actually is.

    That term is not regulated by the government so you really have no way of knowing just how safe if it is.

    That’s why I stick to oven/stove-top cooking and glass container storage.

    Things to Avoid for a Happier and Healthier Life

    8. Social Media

    One surefire way to live a happier and healthier life is by limiting your time on social media.

    Constantly checking social media steals your attention away from more important things, which destroys your focus and productivity.

    Not only that, but social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram notoriously cause self-esteem issues, anxiety and depression.

    But, it’s important to realize that people tend to put only what they want others to see on social media.

    So, you’re not getting the full picture.

    There’s no sense in comparing your “behind the scenes” to someone else’s “highlight reel”.

    You’ll be much happier and more confident if you avoid getting sucked into the social media obsession.

    So, put your cell phone down!

    Spend some time in nature. Improve your relationship with yourself and others. Create your own self-care routine. Leave room for serendipitous occurrences.

    Do you think it’s time for a social media detox?

    Start by tracking your usage to see how much time you are spending on social media and where you should cut back.

    9. Animal-Tested Beauty Products / Products That Contain Harmful Chemicals 

    store-bought beauty products are bad for health

    Once again, what you put in (or on) your body affects your health and your state of mind.

    There are a surprising number of personal care products on the market that contain harmful chemicals like sulfates, parabens, phthalates and aluminum. 

    So, be cautious about which of the following you buy:

    • Deodorant- look for aluminum-free, natural ones like Native or Schmidt’s
    • Lotion- You can make your own homemade lotion by combining different types of butters, oils, essential oils and other natural ingredients.
    • Makeup- There are loads of awesome cruelty-free makeup brands out there.
    • Perfume- You can try making your own with essential oils and carrier oils.
    • Shampoo & Conditioner- Look for sulfate & paraben-free. I love the Shea Moisture brand - especially this one!
    • Soap- I only buy homemade, cold-pressed soaps from small business owners online or on Ebay/Etsy. The ones in the store tend to have harsh sulfates and synthetic ingredients. One great brand that's available on Amazon is Dr. Bronner's. (*check out their 6 Cosmic Principles and "All-One" blog - what an awesome company!)

    Household Cleaners Can be Toxic to Your Health

    Also, a quick note about household cleaners.

    Most store-bought ones contain toxic ingredients like hydrochloric acid, formaldehyde and ammonia.

    Continually exposing yourself to these toxins is not good for your health.

    Check out the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s Household Database for more information about what’s in commonly-used products.

    Thankfully, there are some natural alternatives to commercial household cleaners! I find that they work better and are much more pleasant to use (and smell) including.

    Some examples include baking soda, olive oil (instead of furniture polish), vinegar, vodka (instead of glass cleaner) and essential oils like lemon, lavender, orange, rose and peppermint.

    Things to Avoid for a Happier and Healthier Life 

    10. Spending Money on Things Instead of Experiences

    Research shows that experiences make us happier than things do.

    It makes sense.

    Experiences can actually shape our very identity – things can never become a part of us in the same way.

    Recent findings by JP Morgan and Fidelity Investments reveal that millennials would rather spend their money on experiences than on things – and we’re definitely on to something!

    Because it’s experiences, not things, that can truly help us live happier and healthier lives.

    Hedonic adaptation is a concept in psychology used to describe how humans generally return to a happiness “set point”.

    Basically, nothing will make you happy forever.

    You get used to it and then you want something else.

    Beat Hedonic Adaptation for a Happier, Healthier Life

    One way to avoid getting stuck on the hedonic treadmill is to switch it up.

    Variety stunts adaptation.

    Two things that help tremendously when it comes to beating hedonic adaptation and living a happier, more peaceful life are:

    -mindfulness, and

    -gratitude.

    Simple things can be the most miraculous – allow yourself to be amazed by them.

    Inexpensive things in life can feel luxurious – take time to savor them.

    Switch up your normal routine.

    Getting out there and gathering new experiences will help you to enjoy a happier, more fulfilled life.

    To summarize- 10 Things You Should Avoid for a Happier, Healthier Life:

    1. Clutter
    2. Sweating the small stuff
    3. Going out to eat/fast food
    4. Eating processed/GMO/factory farm food
    5. Drinking milk, alcohol, tap water, energy drinks and soda
    6. Negativity/Toxic People
    7. Microwaves
    8. Social Media
    9. Animal-tested beauty products /products that contain harmful chemicals (sulfates, parabens, phthalates, aluminum)
    10. Spending money on things instead of experiences


    Over to you …  what things do you avoid in order to live a happier and healthier life?


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    About the Author

    Kalliope Archondis, JD, LLM. 👋Hi! I'm Kalli, lawyer turned freelance writer and founder of 3dsuccess.org, a personal development blog dedicated to helping you reach your goals and achieve your definition of success - without all the stress & anxiety. You can read more about me & 3D Success here.