Bad habits that can actually be good for you
Good and bad habits have been defined by man based on their outcomes on a civilized society. For some of these habits, there exist solid reasons and evidence to classify them as good or bad. For example, the habit of smoking is definitely a bad habit because of its ill effects on the smoker as well as others around the smoker.
However, there are others which fall in a gray area and cannot be categorically classified as good or bad. Take, for example, playing video games- while there are many who believe they are addictive and may disconnect one from reality, research has also shown that, in moderation, they improve hand-eye coordination and reflexes. Thus, in moderation, it can be a good habit but in excess, is inarguably a bad habit.
In this article, we look at some of these “gray habits” that people generally believe are bad but can be a positive too.
Bad habits that can be beneficial
Playing Video Games
As noted above, video games can be good or bad depending on how much time is spent playing them, the kind of games that you play as well as your mental characteristics. The negative effects of playing video games are that they can be addictive, increase aggressive and violent behavior, teach wrong values such as killing, cause social isolation and affect health & academic performance. However, when played in moderation and monitored effectively, video games can help improve hand-eye coordination, reflexes and motor skills, problem-solving abilities, planning and resource management as well as flexibility and multi-tasking ability. The key is to know where to draw the line!
There’s an old adage- “Money can’t buy happiness”. All of us, both men and women, go shopping with varying frequencies and budgets. Common criticisms of shopping are that shopaholics end up spending money in a frivolous manner on things they don’t need and in some cases where loneliness or depression is a driving factor, shopping has also found to further increase the loneliness. However, research shows that shopping can give you a sudden burst of euphoria and make you feel upbeat or satisfied. The key is to shop on different occasions but spend little each time without an ulterior motive such as wanting to improve social standing.
How many times have you been told to tidy up? Well, they are not wrong. Clutter and untidiness restrict our ability to focus, limit our brain’s ability to process information and make us feel distracted. However, being messy is not entirely bad either. It can promote greater creativity and give birth to new ideas. As Albert Einstein famously once said- “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”. There’s another advantage- dust mites have a harder time surviving on unmade bed, so you might just be safe from them. BUT, it might be a good idea to clean up once in a while. After all, not all of us are Einsteins!
Being clean is good but is it necessary to take a bath every day? A shower every day washes dirt, dead skin and bacteria growing on your skin. So, that’s good, isn’t it? The answer is- not entirely. A daily shower strips your skin of some of its natural oils that keep it hydrated and supple and makes it dry. However, if you skip showers for long periods, you’ll be faced with the opposite problem- your skin will become too oily. Also, by showering daily (and vigorously), you also lose some of the “good bacteria” that can help your skin produce antibiotics to fight off the “bad bacteria”. The dead skin that you lose by washing may also act as an entry barrier for undesirable bacteria and harmful chemicals. The long and short of it? Bathe regularly but also skip a shower once in a while. It’ll also save some water and electricity!
A lot of us have to sit for long hours either in classrooms or at our workplaces. This large amount of sitting for long periods and being sedentary has an adverse effect on our metabolism and increases our energy intake. This can lead to a wide range of damaging health consequences including obesity and heart disease. Exercising at intervals is a good way of getting around this problem. But if you are unable to do so, fidgeting can help you a bit. Studies have shown that fidgeting can help speed up your metabolism and burn some calories. While not an alternative for exercising, it is a good idea to keep your foot tapping, doodling or spinning in your chair and possibly, extend your lifespan!
Chewing gum is considered a highly distracting and irritating activity in many social situations and in places such as Singapore, they’ve been banned (except therapeutic gums) for the cleaning and maintenance issues they were causing. The negative effects of chewing gum include acid reflux and stomach indigestion, tooth decay (due to sugar content in gums) and strained jaw joints. However, there are some benefits of chewing gum too. It can burn calories and suppress appetites for those aiming to lose weight as well as improve your breath and teeth as it encourages the flow of saliva, which washes the mouth and cleanses it. Further research has also revealed that chewing gum before a task can increase blood-oxygen levels in brain structures involved in memory and learning.
Sleep-in means to sleep or remain in bed longer than you usually do in the morning. When you sleep-in on weekends or even on weekdays, by hitting hit the snooze button of your alarm for those precious 10-15 minutes of extra sleep, it is quite often perceived as a sign of your laziness and lethargy. But, that’s not necessarily true! Sleeping-in and letting your natural biological clock wake you up makes you feel refreshed and well-rested, which in turn can help you boost your memory, reduce stress and live longer. So, the next time don’t shy away from the snooze button for those extra minutes of sleep but be wary of oversleeping to avoid unintended and embarrassing consequences!
If you are a coffee person and have been told to stop drinking coffee, don’t feel disheartened. Yes, caffeine in general and coffee in particular can have some long-term consequences such as insomnia, nervousness and anxiety, faster heartbeat and increased risk of low birth weight babies during pregnancy. However, in moderation, it’s not that bad. In fact, coffee, if taken in moderate levels, can have several health benefits such as reducing risk of several types of cancers such as liver cancer, protection from strokes and fighting depression. Also, coffee is full of antioxidants and can boost your metabolism, thereby helping you lose weight and can reduce risk of gallstones and kidney stones. The key, of course, is to keep your consumption to moderate levels and not get addicted.
Losing your temper is not a good thing in general. When you become angry quickly and frequently, it can affect your cardiac health and increase risk of strokes as well as increase anxiety, depression and cost you your friends and colleagues. However, if expressed quickly in a healthy manner, it can be a better coping mechanism than fear, irritation and suppressed anger. It can also help people in thinking more rationally and increase work motivation. Suppressed anger can lead to far damaging consequences such as violent outbursts and undesirable actions. However, if you are a person who tends to get angry often, you should try to identify your triggers and change your response to them, absorb yourself in other activities & hobbies and practice deep breathing.
Daydreaming is a common tendency to stare off into the distance and detach yourself from your surroundings while musing on different ideas and fantasizing. Daydreaming is often linked to laziness and lack of interest in current activity. However, it helps in reflection and relaxation, thereby boosting your problem-solving abilities and can also aid creativity and memory recall. So, while you may get delayed in your current work and activities, you may just end up sorting out other important issues in your life. But do choose your moments to wander off wisely to avoid embarrassment and wrath of others around you!