Stop avoiding these off-limits activities

Great news: The latest research reveals that these ‘no-no’s’ actually make you significantly healthier and happier! So stop avoiding the following off-limits activities and start embracing what feels good, even if it feels unconventional.

Quick weight loss with cake for breakfast

Have a few bites of last night’s leftover cake before breakfast? Yes! Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University found that enjoying a full breakfast — even if it includes dessert — can triple your weight loss. That’s because an early sweet day prompts cells to burn more fat for fuel, plus it prompts the release of brain-energizing acetylcholine that makes food cravings weaker and easier to ignore.

…or take a nap!

When you’re feeling sluggish and not up for your usual afternoon stroll, go ahead and skip it to catch some Zzz’s instead. Cornell scientists say napping offers the same slimming benefits as exercise: a 15 percent faster fat-burning metabolism and a 50 percent lower risk of hunger pangs, carb cravings and stress eating.

Get rid of the blues with the age of technology

Have you been trying to spend less time on your phone lately? It turns out you don’t have to! Regularly sending funny text messages to loved ones will reduce your chances of blue moods by 65 percent. And if you’re feeling a little down, it will cheer you up quickly and effectively. So say researchers at California’s Loma Linda University, who found that the sense of connection that comes from other people’s joy triggers the release of a mood-stabilizing brain chemical (oxytocin). An added plus: Brigham Young University research found that having supportive friends improves longevity even more than exercise can!

…or have some cheese!

Permission to give up diet foods! Eating a few ounces of creamy, full-fat cheese each day can reduce the risk of blue moods. Ohio University researchers explain that milk fat significantly increases the brain’s production of the mood hormone, serotonin.

Sharpen your focus by daydreaming

Daydreaming isn’t just for kids! Allowing your mind to wander while you’re tidying up, folding laundry, or doing other tasks that don’t require a lot of mental power will increase your focus throughout the day, scientists say. Daydreaming energizes the region of the brain that helps you set goals, stay motivated, think creatively, and solve problems.

…or go shopping!

Whether you browse for hours or buy a small treat, shopping can help you exert a sense of control over your life, provide a much-needed distraction and trigger the release of dopamine. Cheerful sights and sounds (plus social interaction!) in stores also stimulate the production of energetic beta brain waves.

Alleviate discomfort with procrastination

If you’re like us, you like to sit around doing nothing when no one is around to notice. Now, studies show that putting your chores on hold so you can enjoy 30 minutes of guilt-free daily relaxation cuts aches and pains in half. That’s the word from scientists who say that a few minutes of blissful crawling triggers the release of unique compounds that raise the pain threshold, relax muscles and calm overactive pain nerves.

…or fill your cup!

Enjoying three cups of coffee or tea a day (even if it means drinking a little less water) reduces pain by 75 percent. University of Nebraska scientists say anti-inflammatory polyphenols soothe pain, plus hydrate injured tissue as effectively as water!

Deepen your sleep with a ‘real’ read

Don’t feel guilty about buying magazines when you can get your news online: Studies have found that reading before bed can help you drift off faster and stay asleep longer. Reading words on paper instead of an electronic screen induces the release of theta brain waves that deepen sleep; plus, according to a 2015 study, reading on a light-emitting electronic device exposes you to brain-stimulating blue light that can disrupt sleep—so avoid those screens!

…or check this out!

You can sleep better if you watch a comedy before bed, as experts say that a good belly laugh in the evening can lower stress hormones and relax your muscles.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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