14 habits that people think are healthy but aren’t

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We live in a world where everyone is trying to optimize themselves, and their time, to get ahead.

Unfortunately, the byproduct of this behavior is pushing healthy habits into unhealthy ones.

Moderation is important in everything you do.

Without it, you quickly burn out. And that is difficult to recover from because life doesn’t stop.

The easiest way to avoid this scenario is to identify and moderate these 14 habits that you think are healthy, but aren’t:

1. Working very hard.

Hard work will often get you ahead. Often, but not always.

The issue is that many people can’t tell the difference between hard work and overwork.

Overwork is when you’re dragging your work home, on vacation, or being on call when you’re not getting paid for it.

If you want a healthy work ethic, you must maintain some separation between your personal and professional life.

2. Keeping busy.

Busyness can be healthy if it’s productive.

However, many people sink into the habit of busyness for the sake of it.

This is often a problem that’s developed when people expect you to look busy even when there’s nothing worth doing.

But busyness for busyness’ sake is just lost downtime, which could be spent recovering from work so you can do a better job in less time.

3. Never quitting.

Do you know when to quit? Many don’t.

It’s seen as a virtue in the narrative of overcoming challenges and achieving our goals.

Everyone loves the story of an underdog who rises up and succeeds.

The reason people love that story is because it’s inspiring. But it wouldn’t be so inspiring if the underdog lost countless other opportunities because they didn’t know when to quit.

4. Checking the news often.

They say it’s good to be informed, and we stay informed by watching or reading the news.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But there’s a line.

You can’t always stay plugged in or you’ll overwhelm yourself with anxiety and depression.

They don’t report positive things on the news, and I doubt anyone believes that drowning yourself in constant negativity is healthy.

5. Putting others’ needs before your own.

Selflessness is often seen as a virtue. You know what? It is.

The issue with selflessness is that the general expectation is 100% sacrifice, all the time. If you aren’t putting everyone else in front of you, well, then you’re not really selfless.

Are some people really selfless? Sure. Is it healthy? Not at all.

No one can neglect their needs 100% of the time and expect to stay healthy.

6. Always playing the diplomat.

Some people just can’t handle conflict. They avoid it when it’s aimed at them or try to prevent it when it crops up around them.

They play the peacemaker and diplomat, involving themselves in problems that aren’t theirs.

When you do this, you take on the additional stress of other people’s problems.

Let them handle their own business. You’ve probably got enough to deal with of your own.

7. Trying to make everything a teachable moment.

People who drown themselves in toxic positivity often try to turn everything into a valuable lesson.

They use gratitude as the holy grail to make terrible things bearable.

It’s naive.

Not everything in life is a teachable moment, and not everything in life is something you should be grateful for.

Some things are just terrible and it’s okay that they are. Accepting them for what they are is healthy, pretending they’re something they aren’t, is not.

8. Setting your standards very high.

There’s another word for this. Perfectionism.

Perfectionism is a fantastic way to burn out, always feel inferior, and not get anything accomplished.

The other problem is that perfection is a lie.

You can make a thing utterly perfect to you, but others may not receive it well. As the saying goes, “You may be the ripest, juiciest peach on the tree; but some people just don’t like peaches”.

9. Planning to the nth degree.

Dwelling on a past that you can’t change brings you no peace. And always considering and planning for the future keeps you from enjoying the present.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t give the future some thought and planning. But some people go way overboard, trying to micromanage and figure out every possible problem in an attempt to avoid them.

But some things just can’t be planned or prepared for, so it’s a waste of time trying to.

10. Being highly self-sufficient.

Independence is a valuable trait. No healthy person should want someone totally dependent on them.

We all have our own lives, goals, and desires that are independent of others. But to be totally self-sufficient is to turn down help from people who might know better.

That may include important things like asking for help at work or seeking therapy because it would mean admitting you need other people.

11. Constantly seeking self-improvement.

The constant drive for self-improvement can turn unhealthy when you don’t know when to shut it off.

For example, it’s good to make sensible food choices when you’re trying to lose weight. Take that too far and you can develop an eating disorder.

Not only that, but it’s easy to start to see yourself as a failure if you slip up or find you can’t 100% adhere to whatever goal you’re working towards.

12. Utilizing technology at every opportunity.

Technology is a wonderful, double-edged sword.

On the one hand, it can help you better manage your life and stay connected with people. On the other hand, some people try to micromanage every aspect of their life through tracking apps and they lose touch with what’s going on around them.

Many people also can’t disconnect from their technology, making themselves always available instead of offering some solo time for themselves.

13. Being very frugal.

There are plenty of traps you can fall into when you spend without budgeting or considering your purchases. However, the opposite is also true.

It’s easy to miss out on experiences and opportunities if you don’t know when to spend. After all, you can’t take it with you.

The key is to know when to spend and when to save.

14. Regularly engaging in self-critique.

There’s nothing wrong with being aware of your shortcomings or looking for ways to improve.

However, like all things, moderation is required.

At some point, it crosses from healthy self-evaluation to constantly tearing yourself apart.

Eventually, that negative voice drowns out the positive until it’s all you can hear.


At the root of these habits is the idea that you need to constantly be on or off.

All these things are fine in moderation. The issue is some people can’t find that sweet spot.

They constantly go, constantly engage, constantly drown themselves in these so-called healthy habits until they push themselves into burnout.

And when you burn out, well, you have to stop and take the time to recover. There is no other cure.

Recovering from burnout can take anything from a brief break to years.

That’s years of progress you could’ve made and life you could’ve enjoyed if you’d only paced yourself and kept those healthy habits from becoming unhealthy ones.

About The Author

Jack Nollan is a person who has lived with Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar-depression for almost 30 years now. Jack is a mental health writer of 10 years who pairs lived experience with evidence-based information to provide perspective from the side of the mental health consumer. With hands-on experience as the facilitator of a mental health support group, Jack has a firm grasp of the wide range of struggles people face when their mind is not in the healthiest of places. Jack is an activist who is passionate about helping disadvantaged people find a better path.