What if you could make a few tiny tweaks to your daily habits, but the payoff would be significant in terms of physical and mental well-being? Several interesting studies have recently been published which shine a light on common behaviors which really aren't good for anyone. Here are a couple things researchers say you should stop doing now.
1. Stop spending so much time on Facebook.
According to a study recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the use of this social network is negatively associated with well-being. Researchers looked at data from 5,208 subjects, digging into how they used Facebook and self-reported physical and mental health, life satisfaction and body mass index. The people who "liked" more things, clicked on more links and updated their statuses more often tended to have lower scores in terms of their mental health. Those who used Facebook more also tended to have higher BMIs. In essence, the study's authors suggest that having poor health can influence a person to use the social network more, and that doing so only worsens things.
2. Stop spending time around with people who harbor a bad attitude.
People really do rub off on each other, so choose your friends and partners carefully. A study conducted by psychology researchers at Michigan State University followed two preschool classes for a school year, analyzing the personality traits of three- and four-year olds. The kids who played with extroverted or hard-working peers tended to become like them over time. Essentially, personality can be contagious.
3. Stop taking things too seriously.
Laughter therapy is a real thing. And research has shown it can improve depression, insomnia and sleep quality. It also positively affects the muscular, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, immune and central nervous systems. You don't even need to actually think something is funny to make it work for you. Try making yourself fake laugh for one minute (it's more difficult than you might think). I recently did this with a group listening to a cancer survivor turned comedian and found the experience to be weird, but invigorating.
4. Stop reading in bed.
It's not the best way to fall asleep. The problem isn't the book, but the table lamp which lets you see it. Artificial lights emit blue light which suppresses a person's circadian rhythm and the secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin.
5. Stop sitting at your desk all day.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have now quantified exactly how bad a sedentary lifestyle is for a person. They found that elderly women who sit for more than 10 hours a day with low physical activity have cells that are biologically older by eight years compared to women who are less sedentary. They suggest at least 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Doing so keeps the telomeres found on the ends of your DNA strands long and able to protect chromosomes from deterioration.