Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bad Habits that Are Actually Good for You:

A cup of coffee in the morning...or two...or three...

Coffee gets a bad rap because of the caffeine, but it may actually help regulate your mood. A recent study published in Archives of Internal Medicine showed that women who drank two to three cups of coffee daily had a 15% lower risk of depression. Caffeine helps activate the brain chemicals involved in mood, like dopamine and serotonin. It is also a rich source of antioxidants and other healthy compounds that may help protect against cancer. So if you already drink coffee, consider this permission to pour yourself another cup!

Drinking beer.

Red wine gets all the attention when it comes to heart-health benefits, but beer can be good for you, too. Beer is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants and also provides a dose of iron (dark beers are a richer source than light lagers). It also contains dietary silicon, a mineral that helps promote bone formation, which may improve bone density and help protect against osteoporosis. In fact, research shows that some pale ales contain just as much or more silicon than oat bran, which is one of the best food sources of this mineral. Beer contains 120 to 150 calories per 12-oz serving, which can add up fast. So if you do drink beer, make sure you stick to one per day (or less) to get the healthy benefits without the added calories and pounds.

Forgetting to take your vitamins.

Researchers found that taking a vitamin every day may make you feel like you have the leeway to skip or ignore other healthy habits such as grabbing dinner at the drive-thru rather than eating right or channel surfing your TV instead of taking a walk. In general, your body best absorbs nutrients in their natural form, so rather than relying on vitamins, focus on eating a healthy diet packed with whole foods. And if you do take vitamins, remind yourself that they don't replace a healthy diet or exercise.

Allowing the Debbie/David Downer in you to come out.

You shouldn't force yourself to put on a happy face, no matter what. A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that newlyweds who remained positive in the face of negative but controllable circumstances (problems at work, financial issues) experienced more symptoms of depression four years later than people who looked at situations in a less positive and more accurate light. Being realistic drives people to take steps to improve their lives, which helps ease stress and sadness. Forcing yourself to stay positive often means you may be suppressing worries or other emotions, which can be unhealthy.

Getting stressed about the little things.

Chronic stress is linked to conditions like heart disease, but short-term stress actually has a positive side, pushing you to get things done and succeed. Stress triggers the hormone cortisol, which helps energize us, revving up our systems to handle the day. It also motivates us to do better on the things we care about and it helps us to problem-solve. So that brief stressed-out rush you get before a presentation at work will help you perform better. And when the car breaks down, a little stress will help you fix the situation quickly. Just remember that balance is key and it's important to recharge your internal human battery so those once-in-awhile stressed moments don't turn into a constant thing,

If you're it!

Anger is actually a good emotion that's often misunderstood or irrationally used. It motivates you to take action and remedy situations that are wrong. However, the key is figuring out how to appropriately channel your anger rather than lashing out. Begin by figuring out exactly what triggered your anger and consider any other emotions that may be behind your anger. Next, plan a course of action to fix the situation. And finally, a good rule is to "sleep on it" or take some time before reacting. The physiological effects of a triggered emotion affect how you think. So giving yourself a few hours can help you clearly think through what's going on. Then you can decide the best action to take.

Skipping your workout for a few days.

You don't have to exercise hard every single day to be healthy and raking a break is actually better for you. Three to four days a week is enough to keep you in shape and here's why. A few days off will give your muscles time to repair and strengthen, something that happens only with rest. Not to mention that you may also get tired of, or begin to dread a strict routine. It's a good idea to be active every day, whether that's walking with your friends at lunch or taking your dog out for a stroll around the block when you get home in the evening. But schedule tougher workouts for just a few days a week.

Taking an over-the-counter sleep aid occasionally.

Taking pills to help you sleep every once in a while is OK. They can be especially useful if you have trouble sleeping due to nasal allergies or congestion. Why? Many OTC options (like Unisom SleepTabs) work because of a side effect of an antihistamine, a common active ingredient that also helps relieve allergies. But most sleep specialists don't recommend that you use them daily. All you're doing is taking advantage of the side effect (sleepiness) of antihistamines, which are intended for another use (reducing allergy symptoms). By contrast, a prescription sleep aid acts on the "sleep center" of your brain to induce sleep. So if your stuffed-up nasal passages are what's keeping you up at night, OTC sleep aids may be a good solution. Talk to your doctor or a sleep expert before you start taking anything-antihistamines can cause other side effects because they affect the whole body and the longer you take them, the less likely they are to make you sleepy because your body builds up tolerance to their effect fast.

You procrastinate on purpose.

It may seem like a waste of time, but taking a break by reading some funny emails in your inbox is worth it. A small study of 30 people from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore found that when people watched a funny movie (There's Something About Mary), the lining of their blood vessels expanded up to 50% more than when they watched a stressful movie (Saving Private Ryan). Here's why it's good for you. Laughter activates blood vessels to release the chemical nitric oxide, which causes them to enlarge and can help reduce blood pressure. In fact, the harder you laugh, the bigger the benefits. Deep belly laughs are more likely to trigger the healthy chemicals. And be sure to share that laugh with friends. Social laughter boosts levels of pain-relieving, feel-good endorphins. So watch that funny YouTube video with your kids or call a friend and watch while on the phone together.

Positive Change Hypnosis

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