We all have habits we develop without thinking, from checking social media to taking work projects home. These practices are often useful can sometimes make our days more enjoyable or productive. However, if a habit starts to become an addiction, a seemingly harmless practice can turn into something more serious, robbing us of our time, health, or peace of mind.

Habits vs Addictions

A habit that has started to turn into an addiction can be hard to detect in yourself. We generally start to do these things because we enjoy them or they bring us some positive effect. Even though it can be hard to break a habit, we have some control over them.

Addictions, on the other hand, are compulsive and have some sort of negative effect. Though most people think of alcohol or drug use when they hear this word, "smaller" addictions might not have such dangerous repercussions but still make it difficult to fulfill responsibilities or lead us to neglect other aspects of our lives.

man ignoring his friends on his phone


Phone Addiction

Using your phone often isn't necessarily a sign that you're addicted to it. However, if you notice that you really can't be without your smartphone and it's affecting your sleep or habits, you might be a little dependent on it. Research shows that some of the mental and physical health problems related to cell phone addiction include sleep issues and anxiety.

Cell phone addiction can also negatively impact physical health by lowering the amount of exercise an addicted person gets. One study showed that people who were addicted to their cell phones were less likely to engage in activities like walking every day, compared to people who weren't high-risk smartphone users.

woman staring at her phone in bed in the dark


Exercise Addiction

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and scientists advise people to engage in some form of physical activity every day. Compulsive or impulsive exercise, however, could be a sign that a good habit has devolved into something more harmful.

Other signs of exercise addiction include withdrawals such as anxiety when a person is unable to exercise and continual exercise past your limits, even when you know this is bringing you physical harm. Exercise addiction can lead to exhaustion, overuse injuries, and unhealthy weight loss.

woman lying on yoga mat looking exhausted


Caffeine Addiction

Most people are wary of caffeine addiction, but coffee is such an integral part of our lives that it's a hard addiction to identify and even harder to break. Some people who are addicted to caffeine report difficulty sleeping, stomach problems, and a fast or irregular heartbeat. The withdrawal symptoms of caffeine addiction can include severe headaches, fatigue, and mood swings.

coffee addiction concept person with lots of coffee cups


Chocolate or Candy Addiction

Your sweet tooth might be doing more harm than good, especially if you notice that you can't resist your favorite candy bar or dessert. Research shows that the "highly reinforcing properties of sugar" make chocolate and candy addictive. Health drawbacks to too much sugar or processed chocolate are clear. These include stomach problems, insomnia, weight gain, and even diabetes.

woman in pajamas eating cake on the kitchen floor


Online Shopping Addiction

With almost any object imaginable right at our fingertips, it's no wonder that online shopping has become an integral part of many people's lives. The ability to have anything we want at the push of a button has its drawbacks, though. Using a modified addiction test, one study found that almost 35% of subjects met the threshold for a probable online buying shopping disorder. Another study found that people with problematic buying behaviors also have higher levels of anxiety. Besides the mental health effects, this addiction can be financially troublesome, too.

woman with credit card about to make online purchase


Tanning Addiction

While tanning isn't necessarily a bad thing, it can be linked to other mental health problems and certain cancer risks. People who exhibit problematic tanning behaviors also are more likely to report anxiety. There is also a possible link between tanning dependence and conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder. The negative effects of a tanning addiction include negative body image and an increased risk of skin cancer.

woman in a tanning bed


Social Media Addiction

Since the first social media site was introduced to the world in 1997, humans have been inextricably connected to each other online, for better or for worse. And while social media has its positive uses, the negative effects can clearly be seen among adolescents and even adults. Prolonged social media use is linked, in adolescents and young people, to poor academic performance and depressive symptoms. An addiction to sites like Facebook, in particular, might be correlated with a negative sense of well-being and dissatisfaction with a person's own life.

row of young people all on their cell phones


Addicted to Being Busy

Our side-hustle-oriented society encourages us to fill our plates with work and work-related activities, but that can lead to an addiction to work or addiction to being busy. In some fields, a higher workload is associated with a lower quality of life, and purposely incorporating too much work into your life can leave you with more than you can handle. People who are addicted to work might experience extreme tiredness, insomnia, and cardiac and vascular problems.

person with work addiction desk covered in sticky notes


TV Addiction

What seems like an innocuous activity can easily become a bad habit, or worse, an addiction. One compilation of studies on the topic of TV addiction stated that people with heavy urges to watch TV often watch more than they intend to and have difficulty stopping.

They may also neglect other responsibilities or social engagements to watch TV, or give up or reduce other hobbies to feed this problematic addiction. Addiction to TV viewing can lead to a sedentary lifestyle and social problems, since people may start to watch their favorite shows in lieu of group engagements.

man staring at television at night


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