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Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - BEAUTY -

el­com­ing in a new year usu­ally comes with a hand­ful of wrench­ing good­byes: adios to ‘ever drink­ing that much again’; farewell to guilty plea­sures (and, ad­mit it, fre­quent in­dul­gences); so long to bad-but-beloved habits, the things you turn to when juice cleanses and mind­ful­ness and tak­ing a deep breath and count­ing to 10 aren’t go­ing to cut it; adieu to the time-wast­ing and empty kilo­joules and shit-talk­ing and mon­eyspend­ing. By the time you’re done fig­ur­ing out which habits to kick, it feels like all you’re go­ing to be left with is a hand­ful of kale, an ex­pen­sive new gym mem­ber­ship and a yearn­ing for ‘the good old days’. Good thing we’re not here to con­vince you to put down that beer and get off your butt! For­get the list of res­o­lu­tions; we’ve hunted down the bad habits you can – even should – keep. ‘If you want to use this pain-less­en­ing ef­fect to ad­van­tage, you must do less ca­sual swear­ing,’ he says. ‘Swear­ing is emo­tional lan­guage, but if you overuse it, it loses its emo­tional at­tach­ment.’ ‘The idea that we should drink a pre­scribed amount of wa­ter came from a wellmean­ing cam­paign by health pro­fes­sion­als to get peo­ple to choose wa­ter over sug­ary drinks,’ says Cape Town clin­i­cian Michelle Pen­te­cost. ‘While you should def­i­nitely choose wa­ter, you only need to drink enough ev­ery day to quench your thirst.’ Be­fore you for­sake your caf­feine fix and con­demn your­self to be­ing a foul­tem­pered, un­pro­duc­tive zom­bie ev­ery morn­ing of 2017, con­sider this: a re­cent re­view of 1 277 stud­ies on drink­ing cof­fee showed that the ben­e­fits out­weigh the risks. That’s right. Cof­fee is prac­ti­cally a health drink; we should be earn­ing Vi­tal­ity points on this stuff. Reg­u­lar, mod­er­ate cof­fee drink­ing (that’s three to four cups a day) is associated with a re­duced risk of liver dis­ease, Parkinson’s dis­ease, heart fail­ure… The list goes on. Barista, make mine a dou­ble! Mod­er­ate daily beer drink­ing can re­duce your risk of heart dis­ease, kid­ney stones, stroke, Alzheimer’s and di­a­betes. Beer can even beat in­som­nia: an In­di­ana Univer­sity School of Medicine study found that ale, stout and lager stim­u­late the pro­duc­tion of dopamine in the brain, es­sen­tial for feel­ings of calm. Even a sip will do the trick to help you doze off (although there are so many health ben­e­fits to be gained, it seems silly to stop there…). Pen­te­cost says there’s no rea­son to stop fall­ing asleep with your head­phones on – if the sound­track is right. ‘If you suf­fer from in­som­nia, there is good ev­i­dence to sug­gest that mu­sic may im­prove your sleep qual­ity,’ she says. ‘In­som­nia suf­fer­ers may still sleep for the same pe­riod, but re­port a sub­jec­tive im­prove­ment in the sleep qual­ity if they choose re­lax­ing mu­sic at bed­time.’ Guess Le­mon­ade is out of the ques­tion, then. We’ve heard the say­ing: the early bird gets the worm. Then there’s that ‘early to bed, early to rise’ one. But be­fore you go try­ing to get to sleep by 9pm and drag­ging your­self out of bed at 5am, keep in mind that sci­ence reck­ons night owls might get the worm too. Stud­ies have found that those who iden­tify as night owls tend to have larger in­comes and bet­ter cog­ni­tive skills, and re­port hav­ing more sex­ual part­ners than their dawn­greet­ing coun­ter­parts. Don’t de­spair, morn­ing peo­ple: you pro­cras­ti­nate less and are more proac­tive, agree­able and con­sci­en­tious. Stop beat­ing your­self up be­cause your home doesn’t look Pin­ter­est-per­fect. While your messy liv­ing space may not be ideal for find­ing your car keys, im­press­ing your par­ents or avoid­ing trip­ping haz­ards, it is good for cre­ativ­ity. A study pub­lished in Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence found that par­tic­i­pants in an un­tidy en­vi­ron­ment were bet­ter at com­ing up with cre­ative, out-of-the­box think­ing. So what if it’s out of the box and strewn all over your coun­ters? Don’t go blow­ing your bonus in the sup­ple­ment aisle just yet – es­pe­cially not on vi­ta­min C. You may think you’re do­ing your im­mune sys­tem a ser­vice but, says Pen­te­cost, ‘There’s no con­clu­sive ev­i­dence that vi­ta­min C pre­vents the com­mon cold. Once it’s be­gun, vi­ta­min C may help it to re­solve faster, but the rou­tine use of sup­ple­ments is not jus­ti­fied by cur­rent re­search.’ Stud­ies have also shown that high doses of cer­tain vi­ta­mins can be detri­men­tal. Your best bet for meet­ing your nu­tri­tional needs is a bal­anced and var­ied diet.

Of course, shak­ing things up a lit­tle can be good for you too. As Pen­te­cost says, ‘A habit is detri­men­tal when it starts to im­pact on im­por­tant ar­eas of func­tion­ing.’ If it causes you dis­tress or re­grets, that is also a sign to con­sider kick­ing it. But un­til then, you do you. ■

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