Although Blue Monday is long gone, a lot of us are still feeling a bit blue this winter. To cheer right back up again, why not forget that restrictive ‘new year new you diet’ and that ‘quitting social media for good!’ resolution. Instead, use these science-backed life hacks to favour cookie cramming, bubbly glugging and early morning workout avoiding for lazy lie-ins and Snapchat. Moderation is key, but it beats the alternative, right?
1. Hit the snooze button
Just 1 additional hour of sleep per week equates to a pay rise of almost 5%, according to researchers at Williams College, Massachusetts, and the University of California at San Diego.
Yep, we’ll take that as an excuse to stay in bed for another 8.5 minutes, thank you very much. Just make sure you don’t miss the bus.
2. Eat takeaway for breakfast
Warming up last night’s Chinese might make you feel a bit grimy, but guess what? New research suggests that reheated white rice, pasta and potatoes could help you lose weight, enhance nutrient absorption, reduce systemic inflammation and even ward off type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer.
The key lies in allowing them to cool down after cooking, but before eating them – this allows resistant starch (the kind found in healthy wholegrain carbs) to form. Worried about food poisoning? The NHS recommends refrigerating rice within an hour of cooking if you intend to reheat it later on, and making sure you polish it off within 24 hours.
3. Take regular LOLcat breaks
Yup, according to science the benefits of watching cat videos on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter officially outweigh the negatives. So make sure you take a minute or two out of your working day to jack up your feelings of energy and happiness and stamp out anxiety, sadness and annoyance.
Boss still not convinced? “Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional pay-off may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward,” researcher Jessica Hall Myrick told The Independent.
4. Cookies before cardio
Eat a cookie; lose more weight. It’s a simple equation, according to trainer-nutritionist Albert Matheny, who encourages clients to chow down on sugary pre-workout snacks. “It is going to give you energy to burn more than that calorie-wise during your workout and build lean muscle, which is the ultimate goal if you’re trying to lose weight,” he says.
5. Hit the spa more often
Massage could buffer the effects of stress on our waistlines, health and mental wellbeing, according to researchers. A weekly Swedish massage lowers levels of stress hormones associated with everything from weight gain to heart disease, whilst boosting our quota of anxiety-blitzing ‘cuddle’ hormone oxytocin.
6. Tweet your heart out
Digital detox? Just say no. Because, as it turns out, that Snapchat habit isn’t doing you any harm after all. In fact, if you’re female, it’s pretty much therapy. According to research by the Pew Research Center, being an active Twitter user, sending or receiving 25 emails on a daily basis and sharing 2 digital images a day can reduce a woman’s stress levels by, on average, 21%.
7. Own your weepy weakness
What’s your favourite film? No, really..? If it’s Titanic or Bambi, you’re laughing (or at least you will be, once you’ve finished sobbing into your sweet ’n’ salty popcorn). Why? Well, watching a sad movie leaves you happier and more satisfied with your life, according to researchers. So go ahead and treat yourself to a duvet day, DVD and bumper pack of Kleenex, eh?
8. Say yes to butter desserts
It’s the news we’ve all been waiting for. According to researchers at the University of Bergen, cream is good for you. Men who obtained 73% of their daily calorie intake from minimally processed, natural sources of fat, including butter, cream and coconut oil, lost an average of 12kg over 12 weeks and showed improvements in health markers associated with diabetes and heart disease.
9. Drink at least one glass of champagne a week
Scratch that – this is the news we’ve all been waiting for. Drinking 1-3 glasses of champagne a week could stave off memory loss and forestall the onset of dementia, according to researchers at the University of Reading. And that’s not all – drinking up to 2 glasses a day could reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Cheers to that!
10. When all else fails, shop
Shopaholics, rejoice – retail therapy has officially been endorsed by science. Researchers have declared our favourite blues-busting strategy “overwhelmingly beneficial, leading to mood boosts and no regrets or guilt”.