Many of us spend way too much time beating ourselves up for making what we think are poor choices or indulging in bad habits, whether that be going out for ice cream when we’re trying to stick to a diet, sleeping too late, or skipping that spin class we promised ourselves we’d show up for. And there are certainly cases where things are taken to the extreme – if you’re completely sedentary, smoke like a chimney, drink like a fish, have a diet of junk food, and basically just completely disregard your health and wellbeing, then you definitely need to work on breaking those habits.
However, for most of us, indulging in bad habits every now and then actually isn’t the worst thing in the world – in fact, there are some bad habits that have surprising positives you may never have thought of. Researchers are constantly learning and evolving, and new studies continue to unearth data about the surprising benefits of certain behaviors or substances.
So, next time someone shames you (or you shame yourself) for your bad habits, don’t even worry about it – because these 15 bad habits are actually good for you. Sometimes, you just need to relax and enjoy a little bit of a treat.
Okay, let’s get real for a second – most of us get a bit of a thrill out of gossiping. Sure, we know it may not be the kindest thing in the world, and most of us will try to put a stop to actual vicious gossiping. However, it can be a ton of fun to dish about a friend’s new romance with your other friend, or to speculate why your colleague keeps disappearing over her lunch hours or coming in late with crazy sex hair. If you’re constantly down on yourself about your love of gossip, you may actually be in luck – studies say that gossiping can actually have some benefits. It can help you bond with whoever you’re gossiping with, it can help you learn a bit more about the individuals and situations around you, and laughing over some scandalous gossip can release some feel-good hormones that help combat stress and anxiety.
14 Drinking Coffee
So many of us have been told that drinking coffee is terrible for you – it causes cardiac problems, it’ll stunt your growth, it’ll affect your quality of sleep, the list of potential negatives goes on and on. It can be discouraging to hear that kind of information because honestly, who doesn’t love to wake up to a steaming cup of coffee or treat themselves to a frothy latte as an afternoon pick me up? Well, java lovers, it’s your lucky day. Coffee actually is full of antioxidants and some studies have shown it offers a ton of health benefits. Some of the chemicals contained in your caffeinated brew can help fight Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, liver cancer, and can even improve memory. Additionally, some studies prove that women who drink two or three cups a day are 15% less likely to be depressed. So, next time you’re shamed for indulging in an afternoon cappuccino, say you’re just improving your health!
So many kids get scolded for being unable to sit still, and you may still have the idea in your mind as an adult that fidgeting is a terrible habit, but it turns out that fidgeting can actually be a positive thing – for your waist line, at least. Everyone knows that, in addition to trying to carve out time to exercise, they should make an effort to include more general activity in their lives, such as parking farther away from your destination or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Fidgeting is just another way to squeeze in activity! Research shows that it can burn a few hundred extra calories a day, which means you’ll find it easier to shed those last few pounds. Now, if you can absolutely never sit still, and you’re constantly fidgeting even when you know you shouldn’t be, that might be another issue – but if your leg is always bouncing when you watch television or when you’re just sitting at your desk, that might actually be a good thing.
12 Skipping a shower/not washing your hair every day
Okay, obviously, it’s not great for your health – or your social life – if you constantly skip showers and maintain a nauseating odor 24/7. You’ve got to stay clean. However, if you skip a shower every now and then, it may not be the worst thing in the world. First of all, using less water helps the environment. And second of all, daily washing can actually strip your skin of some of the natural oils that help keep it looking supple and youthful, or majorly dry out your locks and lead to an itchy scalp. Obviously, you shouldn’t skip a shower if you’ve undergone a grueling work out and have had a particularly sweaty day. However, if you’ve just been kicking around the house, relaxing and watching Netflix, and you just don’t feel like showering – that’s alright. Your skin and hair could use a little bit of a break – just make sure not to leave it for too long, or all the benefits will be outweighed by your noxious odor.
11 Losing your temper
Everyone knows you should never lose your temper, and that you should always keep a level head, no matter what situation you’re thrown into, right? Well… not exactly. You definitely don’t want to take things too far and constantly spew aggression and rage at everyone for even the smallest issues – no one wants to spend time with someone who behaves like that. However, bottling things up is not always the best solution. Losing your temper every now and then, even if it’s just in the form of venting when you get home after an awful day at work, or telling your spouse in the car about how you were just treated at the gas station, can actually reduce the effects of stress. In fact, a Swedish study found that men who were unfairly treated at work and then bottled up their anger with the situation rather than venting at an appropriate time actually doubled their risk of having a heart attack – so sometimes, you’ve just got to let off that steam.
Thanks to all the horror stories about skin cancer and protecting ourselves from sun exposure as of late, many individuals are spending more time indoors, or only venturing outside if they’re covered from head to toe with fabric. Now, no one is saying you should oil yourself up and lay out sizzling in the sun like a piece of bacon for an entire day – that’s just a disaster waiting to happen. You should definitely be sure you’re slathering on some sunscreen before spending long periods of time outdoors, and you shouldn’t be outside so long that you get potential heat stroke. However, there have been several studies done that show a few minutes spent outdoors soaking up the sun’s rays actually helps get us the necessary dose of vitamin D, which can do everything from combating rickets to fighting off colds and flus. What’s the magic number? According to experts, after your skin has soaked up the sun (without sunscreen) for about 10 minutes, you should cover up.
9 Junk food
Okay, hold up – this is most definitely not an excuse to stuff your body with fast food and package upon package of processed food. Junk food in large quantities is obviously terrible for your health and wellness, and you should strive to have a diet filled with whole, healthy foods. However, constantly denying yourself every treat you’re craving because you’re sticking to a diet of healthy foods at all costs will also lead to trouble. The solution is to allow yourself a treat, every now and then, even if it’s something like junk food. It will give you a much needed mental boost (no one can sustain a diet of lettuce leaves and rice cakes forever) and can also help keep your motivated to stick to your healthy lifestyle. Sometimes, fighting your craving will just drive you crazy and require far more effort than its worth. If you’re craving cake, we’re not saying you should eat an entire three-layer cake all by yourself – but having a slice every now and then is actually a good thing.
8 Sleeping In
Many people think that those who sleep in are lazy – they’re simply not motivated or disciplined enough to wake up when the sun rises. However, in actuality, many people are constantly sleeping less than they need during the work week in order to accommodate their busy schedules. So, when it comes to the weekend, getting a few extra hours can actually be a good thing. Additionally, waking up when your circadian rhythms tell you it’s time to rise rather than dragging yourself out of bed simply because your alarm went off can actually help keep your metabolism high. And then, if that weren’t enough, those who don’t get enough sleep are often more tempted to eat larger portions, and choose options that may not be as healthy. If you’re constantly sleeping twelve hours a day on weekends, you might have other health issues you need to look into. However, if you slept until 11 am on Saturday rather than waking up at 8.00 am to get to the farmer’s market before everyone else? That’s fine.
7 Chewing Gum
While most people don’t view chewing gum as the worst habit you could have, it’s still seen as something that’s just unnecessary. After all, you’re not getting any nutrition from that piece of gum, all the repetitive motion might affect your jaw, and let’s be honest, it can be irritating to those around you if you’re constantly chewing gum with your mouth open or snapping your gum. However, those who easily get off task might want to pick up a few packs of the minty fresh treat, because it turns out that chewing gum can actually help you focus. A study done on students at St. Louis University found that students taking a test while chewing gum out-performed those who weren’t chewing gum on several tests looking at cognitive functioning. So, next time you have a big work project and you really need to focus, pop in a piece of spearmint gum.
6 Being messy
If you’re an average person, chances are you’re constantly wishing your home looked more Pinterest-worthy, that things were always clean and sparkling and you could invite guests over unexpectedly without rushing around in sheer panic trying to tidy everything up. Having a neat space is seen as something to aspire to. However, those of you who just can’t seem to keep things from getting messy for more than a few minutes, take comfort in the fact that your messiness might actually kind of be a good thing. In a study published in Psychological Science magazine, scientists found that a messy environment can actually be great for creative thinking. While participants in a tidy room were more likely to donate money or choose a healthier food option in the study, those who were in the untidy environment were able to come up with more creative solutions to problem and think outside the box. So, if you’re in a creative job and your desk is a little messy – that’s perfect!
5 Being a choco-holic
Everyone knows that sweets and similar treats are best consumed in moderation – they can certainly be incorporated into a healthy diet, but you can’t exactly have cake and ice cream for dinner every single day, as much as your inner child may want to. However, if your treat of choice is chocolate, you may be in luck. While a chocolate bar does not an entrée make, a few squares can actually be a fantastic addition to your daily diet. Dark chocolate is absolutely bursting with a compound called flavonoids, which have a role in preventing a ton of diseases and health issues, from cancer to strokes. Just make sure that you’re opting for dark chocolate to satisfy your craving – something like white chocolate doesn’t have the same health benefits, so that’s just adding more sugar into your diet. Hey, if you want to say that the doctor recommends you enjoy a few squares of quality dark chocolate every evening, we’re not going to stop you.
4 Playing video games
Everyone knows that a sedentary lifestyle is no good – we’re constantly told to take a little break to walk around, get moving, and get our butts out of those chairs every now and then. So, it only makes sense that the type of video games where you’re plopped on the couch, not moving for hours at a time, would be a bad habit you’d want to break, right? Not really. Video games, like many other things, can definitely be addictive, and if you find yourself closing the blinds and turning down all plans with friends in order to log a few more hours playing your game of choice, that’s definitely not healthy. However, they actually have some surprising benefits. Studies have shown that children who play video games after chemotherapy treatments need less pain-killing medication, and individuals with back pain and burns also find that the engrossing nature of video games can take their minds off their discomfort.
3 Biting your nails
Anyone who has struggled with the bad habit of biting their nails knows that it’s something with no positives, right? After all, you’re just sticking your dirty, germ-covered hands in your mouth, after touching goodness knows what throughout your day. However, the cringe-worthy element of biting your nails – introducing all those germs into your system – can also be a surprising benefit. Biting your nails can allegedly help build up your immunity to dirt and germs, since the practice of biting them means you’re introducing germs into your body in small doses. Of course, there are other downsides to the habit – many serious nail-biters have experienced the pain of biting a little bit too much – and if you want lovely nails straight out of a nail polish advertisement, you may want to curb your habit. However, if it’s an occasional bad habit that you do when you’re nervous – it’s actually not as bad as you think it is for your health.
Most adults likely remember getting scolded for using inappropriate language when they were children, and to many, swearing is still seen as a bad habit. After all, there are far more eloquent ways to express yourself than through a string of four-letter words you wouldn’t care to repeat in front of children. However, swearing isn’t all bad. Dr. Richard Stephens at Keele University led a study that found swearing can actually be an effective way to relieve pain. So, if you’re constantly swearing every time you tell a story, that may be taking things a bit too far – perhaps institute your own swear jar and try to curb the habit. However, if you’re tempted to swear when you stub your toe on a table or touch something that’s a bit too hot, go for it – individuals from the study who swore while they dunked their hand in a bucket of ice water were able to tolerate the chill 50% longer than those who stayed silent.
1 Having a brew
While some view alcohol consumption as a bad habit, no matter what you’re drinking, there’s no doubt that beer is perhaps the most frowned upon. After all, wine drinkers are often portrayed as sophisticated connoisseurs, while beer drinkers are often portrayed in popular culture as individuals with beer bellies, or overgrown frat bros. However, next time you feel bad about ordering a brew instead of a pinot noir, don’t – beer is actually good for you, in small doses that is. Malted barley, which most beer is made of, contains the same antioxidants as you find in red wine! And, beer also contains a ton of vitamin B6 and silica, both of which are beneficial to your health. Of course, it still contains calories, so you want to make sure to consume it in moderation – but, ultimately, unwinding with a cold brew after a long, hard day isn’t actually that bad of a habit.