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5 Bad Habits You Don’t Have To Kiss Good-bye

Turns out being bad just may be good for your health.

Cursing up a storm, daydreaming, doodling — many of us have a habit or two we’re not always proud of. But guilt be gone! Researchers have taken a gander at a few habits that used to be considered bad for you and have pulled a U-turn on some of them. You’ve just freed up spare time since you won’t have to work on ditching these five “bad” habits.

Cursing

Sometimes when we stub our toe, the urge to drop the f-bomb is too great to stymie, so go ahead. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology found people who let loose with an angry swear word may have a better hand at managing stress and could actually trigger the body’s release of natural pain relievers. People in the study held their hands in an ice bath and had to use the words “twizpipe” and “fouch” instead of real swears when the cold became too icy. The researchers found those fake curses didn’t do the trick to relieve their pain and suffering, though they brought about a chuckle. The science proves that there’s something much deeper about letting loose with an actual swear word that likely harkens back to childhood when we first learned the word. So, the next time you feel the urge to thwart the pain with a curse — let her fly.

Fidgeting

Fidgeting may have once gotten you in trouble at church, but growing evidence finds the fidget habit helps your brain focus and can calm anxiety and help those with ADHD concentrate. While repeatedly jiggling a leg or twisting a strand of hair once seemed like a bad habit, researchers have discovered that when you allow yourself to fidget, you may improve your focus, memory, and concentration and free up the physical energy in your body, which helps calm your mind. One study let adults fidget during MRI and found their brains lit up like Christmas trees with improved concentration. If you love nothing better than clicking a ballpoint pen, fiddling with a paperclip, twisting your hair, or some other unconscious fidget, go right ahead. What’s more, you may want to check out fidget toys — poppers, spinners and cubes that help keep your hands distracted. You may find once you’re free to fidget with abandon, you think clearer, focus sharper and relax deeper.

Sleeping in

Sleeping in is often considered the hallmark of laziness — and in fact, sleep researchers often advise people with insomnia to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including weekends, to help regulate their sleep cycle and improve their sleep. But if you don’t have insomnia, sleeping in occasionally can be beneficial for your health. A study published in the journal Sleep Research found that it may be just as healthy to sleep in on the weekend as it is to get up early. Participants who reported longer weekend sleep had no difference in mortality or prevalence in heart disease or cancer. “We live in a society that is always working, moving and producing. This can be exhausting, and we tend to put sleep on the back burner,” says Virginia Gruhler, a holistic health coach at Simply Virginia, where she helps women pioneer their own health journey. “Sleep is your body’s time to recover, restore and heal. So go ahead and sleep in guilt-free.” 

Skipping breakfast

You’ve likely heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And there may be some truth to that, like when you send your kids to school with a healthy breakfast because, well, it gets them off to a good start. However, skipping breakfast may contribute to your health goals if you begin paying attention to your timing. “By skipping breakfast, you may be accidentally stumbling into the practice of intermittent fasting,” says Lisa Richards, a nutritionist and coauthor of The Ultimate Candida Diet Program. Richards says if you notice that you’re going 16 or more hours without eating or taking in other sources of calories, you have entered a state of fasting. And intermittent fasting is thought to promote many health benefits — including losing weight, improving insulin resistance, increasing muscle and initiating cellular repair, among others. There are three primary types of intermittent fasting: the 5:2 diet, the 16/8 method, and the eat-stop-eat method.

  • The 5:2 approach allows you to take in only 500 to 600 calories per day for two nonconsecutive days and eat a regular diet the other five days.
  • The 16/8 approach requires you to skip breakfast, restrict calorie intake to eight consecutive hours only, and fast for 16 hours.
  • Eat-stop-eat is fasting in the traditional sense, where you go without food for 24 hours.

Maybe one of these intermittent fasting approaches is right for you.

Having sex

If you still have a schoolgirl attitude that sex is bad or self-pleasure is naughty, it’s time to dump your ’tude. “Sex may still be seen as a taboo topic, but the reality is there are many health benefits associated with an active sex life,” says Natalie Waltz, founder of Tabu — a new kind of sexual wellness company that puts health before pleasure. Research shows that people take fewer sick days when they have sex on the regular because sex boosts your body’s ability to make antibodies that prop up your immune system and protect you from bacteria, viruses and germs that cause common colds. “Sex can also support your pelvic health, improve women’s bladder control, and lower blood pressure,” says Waltz. Plus, studies show sex can reduce your risk of heart attack (the number 1 killer of women), improve pain and sleep, and beat stress. What’s bad about that?

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