I’m sure we all can recall those nagging moments in which our parents or peers would scare us out of certain habits and compulsions through terrifying wives’ tales, persistent lectures or even emailed articles and news stories that successfully put the fear of God in us quite possibly with just the title alone. Maybe you still receive the occasional reminder about your “detrimental ways.”
But what if we told you that your so-called “bad habits” may not be so bad after all? What if we told you they might actually be good for you? At least, from time to time…
We took to the Internet to check out some of that endless string of misleading (and often fear-inducing) information floating around, and hope a little game of myth busters will give a bit of ease. Here’s what we found:
Myth #1: Your go-to cup of java will cause insomnia, heart attacks, cancer and stunted growth.
False. Coffee gets a bad rap because of the caffeine, but it is actually loaded with antioxidants, and has also been proven to enhance memory, boost metabolic rate, improve physical performance and combat conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, liver cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Studies have even shown that women who drink two to three cups of coffee a day are 15 percent less likely to be depressed since caffeine helps activate brain chemicals, like serotonin and dopamine, that are involved in mood.
Myth #2: Biting your nails leads to bacterial infections, toxic poisoning and warts.
False. It’s no secret that our hands are covered in germs. (This is the part you’re probably thinking, in what world does that make it healthy?!) According to science, as you gnaw on your fingernails, you expose your body to new germs (even immune-boosting ones), that as a result, help strengthen your immune system and fend off sickness in the long run. Additionally, biting your nails has actually been proven to relieve stress. According to NPR’s Amy Standen, nail biting is considered an act of “OCD. The main difference is that while people with OCD perform compulsions for no apparent reason, people who bite their nails do – and receive satisfaction from it like a kind of “reward system” – thus relieving any stress or anxiety in the process.
Myth #3: Swearing shows a lack of intelligence, morals and a limited vocabulary.
False. Obviously there is a time and a place, and we’re not encouraging you to go out and drop the F-bomb in the middle of church or in front of a group of innocent children, but here’s the intriguing part. Research has shown that releasing our favorite curse word can actually make us feel better. Richard Stephens of Keele University in England found that people who swear were able to hold their hands in ice-water for twice as long. Why? Cursing is said to activate the so-called ‘fight or flight’ response, leading to a surge of adrenaline and a corresponding analgesic effect.
So while these “unhealthy” practices can actually pay off on occasion, always remember the good ol’ rule of ‘everything in moderation.’ And if your parents and peers still pester you and your ways, well… you might be on your own.