Thursday, June 07, 2012
Link Thursday: Indulging Guilty Pleasure Is Good For You (in small doses)
I've been MIA on this slot for a while now - apologies for the absence. After the whirlwind of 2 releases in a single month and the accompanying promo madness, I'm settling into a semblance of normalcy here, thus hopping back for the regular Link Thursday post.
And, browsing my file a little while ago, I came upon this one. Who doesn't have a guilty pleasure? And who doesn't enjoy indulging it time and again?
Turns out - indulging in your guilty pleasure is good for you... in moderation, though! :)
I thought we could all use this little boost today.
The article is originally from iVillage.com and is written by Jill Provost. You can find the original slideshow here.
Indulging in Guilty Pleasures Is Actually Good for You (in Small Doses)
Shopping, chocolate, sunshine and even gossiping can be healthy (in moderation). Find out when to indulge and when you’re overdoing it
Why it’s OK: Retail therapy can be as good as sex. Researchers at the University of Westminster in London found that, in women, shopping activates the same areas of the brain that get turned on during a romp in the sack. Shopping allows us to interact with the world and explore our interests, says April Lane Benson, Ph.D., author of To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop. Buying things we like reflects the traits we appreciate in ourselves.
When to indulge: “Shopping should be done in a mindful way, and not as a way to anesthetize yourself,” says Benson. Ask yourself whether you can afford the time, energy, money and emotional distraction. “Shopping should never be used to fill a hole in the soul. It won't work and will move you farther away from figuring out what it is you really need and how to get that.”
Don’t overdo it: Though bargain shopping can give you a thrill, racking up credit card debt is not a good strategy for long-term happiness. Between 2 and 8 percent of Americans have an obsession with shopping for unneeded items and the inability to resist purchasing them. “It’s important to remember that you can never get enough of what you don’t really need,” she says.
Why it’s OK: Sweet on chocolate? Don’t feel guilty. Heart-healthy chemicals in cocoa called flavonoids decrease inflammation and help keep blood vessels pliable, preventing the arteries from hardening, says Monica Bearden, R.D., co-author of Chocolate -- A Healthy Passion. Dark chocolate also helps lower blood pressure, reduces the risk of stroke, raises “good” HDL cholesterol and boosts blood flow to the brain.
When to indulge: Unfortunately for chocoholics, you don’t need a box of truffles to reap the benefits of chocolate. In fact, you can get all its perks just by indulging in fat-free cocoa powder. But where’s the fun there? To keep your heart healthy and your waistline slim, nibble on no more than 10 grams of chocolate a day, says Bearden. To get an idea of what that looks like, two Hershey kisses is about 9 grams. To max out on the benefits, choose dark chocolate that has at least 50 percent cocoa, says Bearden.
Don’t overdo it: Even though flavonoids are good for your ticker, chocolate is loaded with calories, sugar and fat -- it’s not exactly a health food
Why it’s OK: It’s no wonder a good mood is referred to as a “sunny” disposition. Basking in the sun’s ultraviolet rays stimulates the production of endorphins -- those feel-good chemicals linked to exercise. And when exposed to the sun’s UV-B rays, your skin manufactures vitamin D, the so-called sunshine vitamin that helps keep bones healthy, and may protect against autoimmune diseases and some cancers.
When to indulge: For vitamin D, spend time in the sun sans sunscreen (which blocks D production) during the middle of the day, when UV-B rays can penetrate the atmosphere, says Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D., professor at Boston University School of Medicine and author of The Vitamin D Solution. If you have fair skin, you can get the vitamin D you need (1500-2000 IUs for most adults) by exposing your arms and legs between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the spring, summer, and fall for 10-15 minutes, three or four times per week. If you have dark skin, you’ll need 5 to 10 times as much exposure, says Holick.
Don’t overdo it: Too much sun is responsible for 90 percent of wrinkles, age spots and other age-related skin changes. UV exposure resulting in sunburns is to blame for 65 percent of all melanoma cases (the most deadly form of skin cancer; however, occupational sun exposure has been demonstrated to decrease the risk of melanoma), and 90 percent of other skin cancers. When spending more than 10-15 minutes outside -- especially at the beach or park -- wear sunscreen from head to toe and reapply every two hours.
Giving into Food Cravings
Why it’s OK: A study in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who allowed themselves to indulge once in a while lost more weight than those who tried to suppress their cravings. The reason: Putting your favorite foods on the do-not-eat list only makes you want them more, until finally you cave in the form of a big-time binge.
When to indulge: Don’t reach for forbidden foods when you’re starving, says Susan Roberts, Ph.D., professor of nutrition and psychiatry at Tufts University in Boston. It can lead to overeating. Instead, schedule your splurges at mealtime, after your main course. You’ll get a taste of the flavor you crave, but you’ll be too full to overindulge, she explains. Keep it light by sticking to a 100-calorie portion (or less).
Don’t overdo it: Giving into every food whim leads to an ineffective (read: nonexistent) diet. Plus, constant nibbling on a French fry here and a doughnut there keeps your taste buds hankering for rich, sugary flavors. After all, it’s hard to think of strawberries as sweet if you’re used to buttercream frosting.
Why it’s OK: Gossiping is a form of social glue -- it solidifies friendships and brings people closer together. Even two strangers can forge a bond by talking about others. “It’s an expression of mutual trust,” explains media expert Richard Weiner, author of an upcoming book on gossip. “The gossiper feels like a big shot to be in the know and the recipient feels grateful to be in the loop.” Plus, the threat of being gossiped about can keep others in line. Knowing that you could be badmouthed makes you less likely to act like a self-centered jerk, according to research in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
When to indulge: Weiner advises people to consider their intentions whenever discussing others. If it doesn’t benefit anyone and may in fact cause harm, it’s best to keep judgmental words to yourself. However, Weiner believes that most gossip about people we know, rather than celebrities, can be useful. There’s gossip (“Did hear? Deb is having a baby!”), and then there’s gossip (“I heard Jane cheated on her husband and got herpes!”). Stick to the first kind and people may see you as a dependable source for news in your social circle.
Don’t overdo it: Research shows that when we slander someone, our audience unconsciously assigns the negative traits to us that we pin on others. For instance, if you call Janie an idiot, the person you’re talking to now unwittingly associates that quality with you. Luckily, the phenomenon, known as spontaneous trait transference, works both ways, so if you say good things about others, those positive qualities will also get assigned back to you.
Why it’s OK: Feel like you need a mental health day? You’re not alone. According to a 2004 poll by the American Psychological Association, two-thirds of men and women say work has a significant impact on their stress level. Time away from work helps reduce stress, restores efficiency and even boosts creativity. As a result, one in four of us has taken a “mental health day.”
When to indulge: Provided you don’t get caught, an unscheduled day off now and then isn’t going to kill your career. However, constantly pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion could, says executive coach M.J. Ryan, author of AdaptAbility. “If you always have this feeling of misery or dread, it tells you something’s not working. Vow to do things differently in your daily life,” says Ryan. Instead of calling in sick, schedule regular days of downtime to avert mental meltdown. Plan activities you really enjoy to help you take your mind off your job. And do not check email while on vacation!
Don’t overdo it: Playing hooky is a legitimate reason to fire an employee. Plus, calling in sick won’t necessarily give you the respite you need to recuperate. The fear of getting caught can make people sit at home and worry about work. Plus, research in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows fretting is the number-one way to ruin the mental health benefits of a vacation.
Why it’s OK: All those tweets and status updates may be more valuable than you think. A recent study from Kent State University found that having lots of Facebook friends was linked to greater happiness. Other research shows online networking helps people build valuable connections in real life.
When to indulge: Instead of checking in every two minutes, set aside a few minutes of dedicated Facebook time a few times a day. By confining it to a set time, you can diminish that compulsive urge to peek in on your friends every second.
Don’t overdo it: Anyone who has unwittingly lost hours of their life to Facebook knows that social media sites can be a huge time suck. “It’s very attractive to find a place where there’s always someone to talk to,” says Larry Rosen, Ph.D., author of Rewired. According to Rosen, we can become so obsessed with checking in to see if people have commented on our status, that it occupies entire areas of the brain even when we’re not logged on.
Why it’s OK: Lean red meat is a protein powerhouse, as well as one of the best sources of hard-to-get nutrients like iron, zinc and vitamin B12.
When to indulge: According to a 2010 study in the journal Meat Science, moderate consumption of lean red meat as part of a balanced diet is unlikely to increase the risk for heart disease and colon cancer. How is that possible? Studies don’t always differentiate between the types of red meat being researched. David Katz, M.D., director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, recommends choosing your red meat wisely. Steer clear of processed meat and fatty cuts. Instead, opt for grass-fed lean beef, bison or game meat like venison, which has more heart-healthy omega-3 fats and less saturated fat. Keep your meat eating to no more than two servings a week.
Don’t overdo it: High in saturated fat, red meat has been linked to everything from heart disease and diabetes to colon cancer and premature death.
Why it’s OK: Daydreaming is an important mental state where we unconsciously turn our attention away from immediate tasks to sort through important problems in our lives, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Not only does it help us work through issues, it encourages creative thinking.
When to indulge: Since daydreaming can sap attention from what we’re doing, researchers recommend letting your mind wander daily during simple, solitary activities that don’t require much brainpower. Some of your best ideas may come to you if you let your imagination take hold while showering, going for a walk or cleaning the house.
Don’t overdo it: Researchers at Harvard found that people are generally less content when they allow their mind to wander, instead of being in the present, because we tend to ruminate about negative, rather than positive, things. If you feel stressed, says Harvard mindfulness expert Ellen Langer, Ph.D., “It’s usually because you’re anticipating a negative event that may not happen. If it does, it might turn out not to be so negative after all. It may be wise to practice, ‘no worry before it’s time’ and enjoy being in the present.” When daydreaming leads you to focus on something that causes anxiety, that’s a sign that you need to get out of your head and back to the present.
Why it’s OK: There’s a reason we tune into our favorite shows every week: We’re emotionally invested in our beloved characters because they keep us company and bring us comfort, according to research in the journal Mass Communication and Society. Sitcoms and movies that make us laugh can also boost feel-good endorphins and reduce stress.
When to indulge: Keep your screen time to under two hours a day. You can even downgrade your couch-potato status by using the exercise bike or treadmill while watching your favorite shows. Not the treadmill type? Just get up and walk around during commercials. And keep those hands out of the potato chips!
Don’t overdo it: Women who watch three to four hours of TV daily are twice as likely to be obese as those who tune in for under one. So, unless you watch TV standing up, being glued to the tube could lead to an early demise. A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that logging six hours a day in front of your screen could subtract five years from your life.
Why it’s OK: It might not be particularly helpful, but procrastination may be an unavoidable part of being human. Research shows that even primates procrastinate when working toward a far-off goal.
When to indulge: Putting things off gives us momentary reprieve and gives us an excuse to engage in pleasurable activities. But you still have to get things done. If you really do work well under pressure -- more efficient and focused and less mistake-prone -- then you can probably start the project a little closer to deadline than others.
Don’t overdo it: The telltale signs that you procrastinate too much: You’re always handing things in late or they’re often riddled with mistakes. You could see physical signs, too: Researchers at Case Western Reserve University found that people who dawdle encounter more physical and emotional difficulties, like stress, headaches and stomach pains.
Flirting When You’re in a Relationship
Why it’s OK: “Harmlessly flirting with others helps you to feel attractive and desirable, which helps to charge the energies you bring to your relationship and to the bedroom,” explains Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph.D., sexologist and author of Sultry Sex Talk to Seduce Any Lover.
When to indulge: It really comes down to each individual couple, says Fulbright. “There's no harm in window shopping as long as your partner understands that that's all it is. Couples need to discuss what is and isn't acceptable, and where to draw the line.”
Don’t overdo it: Flirting when you’re unavailable can lead others on and hurt the one you’re with, says Fulbright. “If you need to flirt to get your ‘high’ for the day, or if you find yourself needing more and more attention from the same person, then that should be evaluated as far as what's really making you happy (or unhappy) in your relationship.”
From Mauritius with love,