We all do things that we know are not making a positive contribution to our lives; binge-watching TV series, reading from your mobile phone before bed, having an extra glass of wine on Fridays. However, none of these habits is likely to damage your career prospects, but they might not serve your best interests.

Then there are the things that we do by force of habit and feel guilty over because we’ve been conditioned to believe these choices will have a dramatic impact on our lives or even damage our health. This might not be the case according to new research that is trying to dispel the myth that our habits might be ‘bad’.

Sleeping in or napping

Listening to your circadian rhythm is more important than trying to impress others with your sleep-deprived 5am running routine. According to Gabrielle Moss, it’s actually good for your metabolism if you wake when your body tells you its time.

When it comes to taking a nap, the Mayo Clinic says a nap is better than being fatigued. They are relaxing, increase alertness and improve mood. Napping has also been shown to lead to quicker reaction time and better memory.

Skipping breakfast

While research shows that there are proven benefits to eating breakfast, such as improved performance, energy generation, and mood stabilising, there are some researchers who are saying that eating breakfast might not benefit all people.

“If you’re hungry, eat it,” paediatrics professor Aaron Carroll said. “But don’t feel bad if you’d rather skip it, and don’t listen to those who lecture you. Breakfast has no mystical powers.”

So if eating breakfast makes you feel queasy, skip it and eat when you’re ready, like mid-morning or lunchtime.

Chewing gum

Chewing gum is banned in some parts of the world. And while the disposal methods of used gum leave much to be desired (it’s not difficult to wrap and place in the rubbish bin), the benefits of chewing gum include boosting mental performance, increasing alertness, and reducing stress and anxiety.

Gum is also used as a stop smoking aid and can improve eating habits.


Getting distracted

The brain is wired for distractions. “The brain can’t process everything in the environment,” Princeton Neuroscience Institute associate research scholar Ian Fiebelkorn said. “It’s developed those filtering processes that allow it to focus on some information at the expense of other information.”

Distractions can help us to process painful or difficult emotions. By removing our focus from our internal struggle we can continue with other aspects of our lives. In the workplace, distractions can help us to recharge when we are busy. Taking the time to have a chat or relax with a daydream so your brain can recharge.

Playing video games

Research has found that video games can help people overcome dyslexia, improve decision-making skills, reduce stress and improve vision. Video games can also help ease pain, slow the ageing process, help make new social and neural connections and even encourage leadership traits.

Don’t believe the hype. Playing video games brings benefits to your everyday life. All video games, when balanced with other activities, can enhance your skills.


“Mind-wandering is typically associated with negative things like laziness or inattentiveness,” University of British Columbia Department of Psychology Professor Kalina Christoff said. “Our brains are very active when we daydream – much more active than when we focus on routine tasks.”

“When you daydream, you may not be achieving your immediate goal – say reading a book or paying attention in class – but your mind may be taking that time to address more important questions in your life, such as advancing your career or personal relationships,” Christoff said.

So when we daydream we are solving questions or finding solutions. Daydreaming should never be interrupted or dismissed, it is vital for many people who prefer to think through scenarios rather than jump to conclusions.

Being messy

According to Reader’s Digest, messy people tend to be more creative, spontaneous and flexible. Research has found that people working in cluttered environments have better ideas. Messy people also have their own unique organisational systems.

Some messy people are that way because they have a more relaxed attitude and don’t feel the need to control every aspect of their lives. So while messy people drive neat people crazy, perhaps it is a habit that has been misjudged.