We all have our vices that we try to keep under control, and that’s okay. But the good news is that some of the things you once thought were bad for you may actually be good for you instead. Learn how to turn your guilty pleasure into a healthy habit with these tips.
We’ve all heard that too much coffee can be bad for you, but there’s also evidence that shows that coffee can help regulate your mood. The caffeine activates brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that can elevate your mood, giving you a great boost when you need it most. A recent study even found that women who drank two to three cups of coffee per day had a 15 percent lower risk of developing depression. However, researchers don’t advise drinking more than a few cups a day, and those who don’t currently drink coffee are advised not to start.
Many people will be delighted to hear that drinking beer can actually be good for your heart. Beer contains heart-healthy antioxidants and bone-strengthening dietary silicon. Also, the darker the beer, the more iron it contains, and beer can also help boost your good cholesterol. To get these benefits while avoiding packing too many calories into your diet, researchers suggest drinking one beer per day (or less).
This habit can, surprisingly, help boost your short- and long-term memory (although researchers aren’t quite sure why). One thing that’s for sure, though, is that chewing gum may help you lose a little weight by helping you to feel fuller. Just make sure you choose a sugar-free gum to protect your teeth. (To learn more about the benefits of chewing gum, read The Surprising Health Benefits Of Chewing Gum.)
Don’t worry too much if you miss your multivitamin for a day or two. Studies have found that people who always take a vitamin may be more likely to pick up unhealthy habits, like getting drive-thru for dinner or foregoing exercise. The real thing is better for you anyway, so while taking a vitamin regularly won’t hurt, it’s best to focus on getting vitamins through a healthy diet. (To learn more about why you should skip that multivitamin, read Multivitamin Overdose: Too Much Of A Good Thing.)
Don’t beat yourself up just because you missed your workout for a day or two. In reality, you only need to exercise three or four days per week to stay in shape. Plus, giving your muscles a day off gives them a chance to repair and strengthen. Try to stay active every day, but allow yourself those days off from a tougher workout to let your body recharge and to keep yourself from dreading a strict workout routine.
Sometimes it’s hard not to feel bad about doing something mindless or pointless for a little while each day. That procrastination is actually good for you, it turns out. If you can, try to waste time doing something that makes you laugh, like reading a funny email or watching a funny TV show or movie. A study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that when people relaxed and watched a funny movie, their blood vessels expanded up to 50% more than when watching a stressful movie. Laughter also triggers healthy chemicals that help relieve pain and make you feel good, especially when shared with others.
Another way you could procrastinate is browsing the Web. According to BBC News, using the Internet can activate parts of the brain involved in decision making and complex reasoning. Exercising these areas of your brain help improve its function and develop your reasoning skills.
As long as you’re keeping your house or apartment relatively clean, it’s okay to be a little messy. Don’t worry about sanitizing every square inch of your place either, since removing harmless germs can make way for more dangerous ones. Avoid using disinfectant sprays and air fresheners too much since these can increase the risk of asthma-related symptoms.
While being chronically angry can raise your stress levels and be unproductive, a little rage now and again won’t hurt. In fact, anger can actually help you make better decisions, get a situation under control and be more efficient in some cases. According to ABC News, studies have shown that anger can reduce the negative impacts of stress, which can include increased heart rate and released hormones. Think of it as a way for your body to release that stress in a healthy way. Just don’t confuse anger with anxiety or fear – the effects aren’t the same for your stress levels or for your health. (To learn alternative ways to deal with stress, read 9 Stress Relieving Techniques For Daily Comfort.)
As with anger, it can be better for you to actually get sad or allow yourself to be realistic about situations rather than trying to put a positive spin on everything all the time. One study found that newlyweds who tried to stay positive no matter what the circumstances were more likely to have symptoms of depression four years later. Allowing yourself to be realistic or even sad about your situation appears to be better than suppressing those emotions.
In the end, it appears that many of the things you once may have considered a bad habit may actually be good for you. Just remember to do everything in moderation – going overboard with any of these tips won’t help you live a healthier life.