Great news: The latest research reveals that these ‘no -no’s’ actually make you significantly healthier and happier! So, stop avoiding the following off-limits activities and start to embrace what feels good, even if seems unconventional.
Speed slimming with cake for breakfast
Sneak a few bites of last night’s leftover dessert before breakfast? Yes! Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University found that enjoying a filling breakfast — even if that includes a sweet treat — can triple weight loss. That’s because an early day sweet primes cells to burn more fat for fuel, plus it prompts the release of brain-energizing acetylcholine that makes food cravings weaker and easier to ignore.
…or take a nap!
When you’re feeling draggy and aren’t up for your usual afternoon walk, go ahead and skip it to catch a few Zzzs instead. Cornell scientists say napping provides the same slimming perks as exercise does: a 15 percent faster fat-burning metabolism and a 50 percent lower risk of hunger pangs, carb cravings, and stress eating.
Banish the blues with tech time
Been trying to spend less time on your phone lately? Turns out you don’t have to! Regularly sending fun text messages to loved ones will lessen your odds of blue moods by 65 percent. And if you’ve been feeling a bit down, it will cheer you up quickly and effectively. So say researchers at California’s Loma Linda University, who found that the feeling of connection that comes from cheering up other people spurs the release of a mood-steadying brain chemical (oxytocin). An added plus: Brigham Young University research found that having supportive friends improves longevity even better than exercise can!
…or nibble on some cheese!
Permission to ditch the diet foods! Savoring a few ounces of creamy, full-fat cheese every day could reduce your risk of blue moods. Ohio University researchers explain that dairy fats significantly heighten the brain’s production of the mood-cheering hormone serotonin.
Sharpen focus by daydreaming
Daydreaming isn’t just for kids! Letting your mind wander when you’re tidying, folding laundry, or doing other tasks that don’t require a lot of brainpower will boost your all-day concentration, say scientists. Daydreaming energizes the brain region that helps you choose goals, stay motivated, think creatively, and solve problems.
…or go shopping!
Whether you browse for hours or buy a small treat, shopping can help you exert a sense of control over your life, provide some much-needed distraction, and cause a release of dopamine. The cheery sights and sounds (plus the social interaction!) in stores also spur the production of energizing beta brain waves.
Tame discomfort with procrastination
If you’re like us, you love lounging around doing nothing when no one is there to notice. Now, studies show making your to-do’s wait so you can enjoy 30 minutes of guilt-free downtime daily cuts aches and pains in half. That’s the word from scientists who say a few minutes of blissful procrastination prompts the release of unique compounds that raise pain threshold, relax muscles, and soothe overactive pain nerves.
…or refill your mug!
Enjoying three cups of coffee or tea daily (even if it means drinking a little less water) cuts pain by 75 percent. University of Nebraska scientists say anti-inflammatory polyphenols calm aches, plus hydrate sore tissues as effectively as water!
Deepen sleep with a ‘real’ read
Don’t feel guilty about buying magazines when you could get your news online: Studies have found that reading before bed can help you drift off faster and stay asleep longer. Reading words on paper instead of on an electronic screen boosts the release of sleep-deepening theta brain waves; plus, according to 2015 research, reading on a light-emitting electronic device exposes you to brain-stimulating blue light that can disrupt sleep — so avoid those screens!
…or watch this!
You may sleep more soundly if you watch a comedy before bed, since experts say having a good belly laugh in the evening can decrease stress hormones and relax your muscles.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.