14 bad habits that are actually good for your health and happiness

PHOTOGRAPH: lanak, 123rf.com

Reading erotica  
Indulging in a few sexy stories can be mentally and – potentially physically – great for us. Naughty prose is a great and perfectly harmless way to de-stress. “Not only will it take your mind off everyday life, it cheers you up and fuels your imagination,” says Eadren Tan, life coach and educator-at-large at Brainzworkz. All those steamy suggestions can only be carried over to the bedroom – because we all know how awesome making love is for cardio, endorphin-release and working body parts many of us don’t know exist.

Minding your language
Researchers in the United Kingdom found that saying any expletive out loud can make you feel better. Experts asked 64 students to put their hands in ice buckets for several minutes. One group was allowed to swear, the other had to keep quiet. The group that lasted the longest – and reportedly suffered less agony – were those sprouting profanities. No s**t.


Fidgeting restlessly
Playing with your hair, shaking your leg, drumming your fingers, doodling – you were told as a child to stop being so restless and just stay still. Turns out Mum and every other adult was wrong about fidgeting. 

It’s to do with this thing called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (Neat). Aside from eating, sleeping or doing sports, Neat is the energy you use doing everything else. And it turns out that fidgeting – continuous but small actions – help increase Neat, and help with losing weight and your overall health.


Listening to loud music
Research by the University of Manchester in Britain found that the greater the intensity of music, the more pleasure it brings. This is due to our vestibular system, which is responsible for balance, carrying vibrations with positive messages to the brain. 


Read more: 7 halal restaurants in Singapore serving unconventional halal food


But don’t over-boom the Beyonce. Experts say it’s okay to go above 100 decibels at a rock concert – but only occasionally, in case all that loud music causes lasting damage to your hearing.


Sharing gossip
Psst! Want to know a secret? Gossiping, says evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar – the man who came up with the Dunbar Number, which says that the number of people anyone can realistically have a meaningful relationship is about 150 – has a lot to teach us.

Social norms, for one. Contributing to the grapevine also helps you bond and connect with others, and makes you feel comforted that you’re part of something. Just so long as you’re not mean-spirited about it.


Drinking coffee  
The debate over whether your kopi is good or bad for you is likely to run forever but for now, recent Harvard research found that drinking one to three cups of coffee a day could cut the risk of prostrate cancer in men by 30 per cent. 

In addition, a paper in the Archives of Internal Medicine also revealed that a cup of Joe may protect women from depression as it adjusts the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that affect your mood.



Having a rant…
Suppressing negative emotions is terrible for your well-being because your body releases the hormone cortisol when you’re stressed, which has an impact on your immune system. So, having the occasional rant can actually protect your health. 

But counsellor and coach Ralitza Peeva warns: “Be mindful of how much your rant. No one wants to be around someone who’s constantly complaining.” 


And screaming really loudly too
Same thing, keeping it in is really not good for you. Researchers say that being openly angry – and yelling about it – helps to decrease the negative impact of stress on your mind and body. “Expressing your feelings is always better than seething in resentment and contempt,” says Ralitza. 

Letting it out also increases blood flow to the part of your brain that promotes happiness. Bottomline, letting out your negative feelings is preferable to keeping the resentment inside you but remember that long-term anger can be destructive.  


Be (a little) lazy
As women, we’re hard-wired to juggle a multitude of tasks at once but a study in scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that focusing on one thing at once is beneficial to your memory. 


Read more: RECIPES: 4 dinners to cook in bulk for the family and how to save the leftovers


“Multi-tasking causes a huge release of cortisol and overloads your system, leaving you overwhelmed and unsatisfied because you cannot concentrate,” explains Ralitza. “Do one thing with full attention and make sure you prioritise. You’ll be surprised at the results.” 



Leave it until later
You’ve got 10 tasks on your to-do list and none are halfway started. Did you know that procrastination does come with bonuses.

Says Eadren: “If you’re delaying an activity to do something more valuable – not just to binge on Netflix – you’re effectively prioritising your list and boosting the time-management and creative parts of your brain. 

“Procrastinators are usually more mindful, self-aware and better decision makers as they’re less compulsive,” she adds. Now, just go think about that for a bit….


Texting, instead of talking to, your kids
We’re constantly being told we’re overusing our phones, yet a survey by Samsung Telecommunications America discovered that 53 per cent of teenagers and 51 per cent of parents felt that texting improved their relationship. It makes sense when you think about it – texting gives your older kids the privacy they crave yet is a way for you to connect with them.   


Skipping a workout  
Missed a Zumba class and feeling guilty because of it? “Resting is vital to recovery,” says Robin Connelley, former kickboxer and co-founder of Chosen Experiences. “When you’re tired and sluggish, it’s important to identify the cause and adjust your schedule accordingly – which may include avoiding the gym, having a glass of wine or enjoying some solitude.” Battle on and you risk damaging muscles, wearing yourself out and losing motivation.  

Read more: Mooncakes with the most calories and how to work them off


Having your head in the clouds
While being busy seems to have become a badge of honour for many of us, stopping and letting our minds run free can boost our problem-solving abilities. So, daydreamers, you don’t lack focus, you aren’t lazy and your wool-gathering has nothing to with a lack of self-control.  

Instead, “daydreaming can let you unconsciously sort through problems in your life”, says Ralitza. “Give your brain a break and let it breathe for sharper thinking, clarity and decision making.” Something to think about when your 10-year-old drifts off into space again.  


Sleeping in
It’s the weekend and all you want is a luxurious lie-in. Do it! Research from Brunel University in the United Kingdom found that extra sleep helps you live longer, boosts your memory and reduces stress.