Why be a goody-two-shoes when science proves that some tasks we scold ourselves for can boost our well-being and happiness? JO UPCRAFT tells you how to rebel for the sake of your health.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Why be a goody-two-shoes when science proves that some tasks we scold ourselves for can boost our well-being and happiness? JO UPCRAFT tells you how to rebel for the sake of your health.

My Reading Room
My Reading Room

Indulging in a few sexy stories can be mentally and – potentially physically – good for us. Naughty prose is a great, perfectly harmless way to de-stress. “It takes your mind off everyday life, cheers you up and fuels your imagination,” says Eadren Tan, life coach and educator-at-large at Brainzworkz.

All those steamy suggestions can only be carried over to the bedroom – because we all know how awesome making love is for cardio, releasing endorphins and working body parts many of us don’t even know exist.


Researchers in the UK found that saying any expletive out loud can make you feel better. Experts asked 64 students to put their hands in ice buckets for several minutes. One group was allowed to swear, the other had to keep quiet. The group that lasted the longest – and reportedly suffered less agony – were those sprouting profanities. No s**t.


Playing with your hair, shaking your leg, drumming your fingers, doodling – you were told as a child to stop being so restless and just stay still. Well, Mum and every other adult was wrong about fidgeting.

It’s to do with this thing called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) – or the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like. Fidgeting – continuous but small actions – increases NEAT, which helps with losing weight and your overall health.


Research by the University of Manchester in Britain found that the greater the intensity of music, the more pleasure it brings. This is due to our vestibular system, which is responsible for balance and carries vibrations with positive messages to the brain.

But don’t over-boom the Beyonce. Experts say it’s okay to go above 100 decibels at a rock concert – but only occasionally, in case all that loud music causes lasting damage to your hearing.


Psst! Want to know a secret? Gossiping, says evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar has a lot to teach us. For instance, contributing to the grapevine encourages bonding – just so long as you’re not meanspirited about it – and is a brilliant stress buster as it allows you to vent negative emotions

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The debate over whether your kopi is good or bad for you is likely to run forever. For now, recent Harvard research found that drinking one to three cups of coffee a day could cut the risk of prostate cancer in men by 30 per cent.

In addition, a paper in the Archives of Internal Medicine also revealed that a cup of Joe may protect women from depression as it adjusts the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that affect your mood.


Suppressing negative emotions is terrible for your well-being as your body releases cortisol when you’re stressed, which has an impact on your immune system. So, the occasional rant can actually protect your health. But counsellor and coach Ralitza Peeva warns: “Be mindful of how much you rant. No one wants to be around someone who’s constantly complaining.”


Keeping it in is really not good for you. Researchers say that being openly angry – and yelling about it – helps to decrease the negative impact of stress on your mind and body. “Expressing feelings is always better than seething in resentment and contempt,” says Ralitza.

Letting it out also increases blood flow to the part of your brain that promotes happiness. Bottomline: Letting out your negative feelings is preferable to keeping the resentment inside you, but remember that longterm anger can be destructive.

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As women, we’re hardwired to juggle a multitude of tasks at once. However, a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that focusing on one thing at once is beneficial to your memory.

“Multitasking overloads your system with cortisol, leaving you unsatisfied because you cannot concentrate,” explains Ralitza. “Do one thing with full attention and make sure you prioritise. You’ll be surprised at the results.”


There are 10 tasks on your to-do list and none are halfway started. Well, procrastination does come with bonuses. Says Eadren: “If you’re delaying an activity to do something more valuable, you’re effectively prioritising your list and boosting the time management and creative parts of your brain. Procrastinators are usually more self-aware and better decision makers as they’re less compulsive.”


We’re constantly told that we’re overusing our phones, yet a survey by Samsung Telecommunications America discovered that 53 per cent of teens and 51 per cent of parents felt texting improved their relationship. Texting gives your older kids the privacy they crave yet is a way for you to connect with them.


Feeling guilty about missing a zumba class? “Resting is vital to recovery,” says Robin Connelley, former kickboxer and co-founder of Chosen Experiences. “When you’re tired, it’s important to identify the cause and adjust your schedule accordingly – which may include avoiding the gym, having a glass of wine or enjoying some solitude.” Battle on and you risk damaging muscles, wearing yourself out and losing motivation.

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While being busy seems to have become a badge of honour for many of us, stopping and letting our minds run free can boost our problemsolving abilities. So, daydreamers, you don’t lack focus, you aren’t lazy and your wool-gathering has nothing to with a lack of self-control.

Instead, “daydreaming can let you unconsciously sort through problems in your life”, says Ralitza. “Give your brain a break and let it breathe for sharper thinking, clarity and decision making.” Something to think about when your 10-year-old drifts off into space again.


It’s the weekend and all you want is a luxurious lie-in. Do it! Research from Brunel University in the UK found that extra sleep helps you live longer, boosts memory and also reduces stress. SH

More: found brain