Most of us know that a healthy diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, less stress, and more time spent doing the things we love leads to a healthier body and mind. And while we may not be perfect at it, it makes a big difference when we try to do our best while remaining as consistent as possible.
Some habits, however, are healthier than we might expect. Here are just five habits that are surprisingly healthy.
1. Scraping Your Tongue
Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science) recommends a daily tongue scraping practice to remove the coating of food and bacteria that can contribute to bad breath and terrible tastes. In addition to freshening up your breath, tongue scraping can make it easier to stick to a healthy diet since the removal of the coating frees up your taste buds so that you feel more satisfied with what you eat while reducing your temptation to reach for more sugary, salty, or savory foods.
2. Walking Barefoot Through the Grass
Known as “earthing,” make direct contact with the Earth transfers its vast supply of electrons from the ground to your body, which has been proven to help improve sleep and reduce pain. Running barefoot through the grass also offers greater benefits over running in shoes because it eliminates the heel-to-toe shock and forces the foot to land on its ball and lateral edge in a way that neutralizes the impact.
3. Cuddling With Someone
Besides strengthening the bond between you and your romantic partner, family member, friend or anyone else you decide to cuddle with, cuddling is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Research has shown that something as simple as a hug from a loved one can lower cortisol levels. It can also help reduce high blood pressure and improve sleep.
4. Petting a Dog or Cat
If another human being isn’t around to cuddle with, grab your cat or dog to pat their fur or give them a gentle snuggle. Studies on human-animal interactions have shown that it can lead to lower cortisol levels, heart rate, and blood pressure while also offering mental health benefits — such as reduced feelings of fear and anxiety. It’s no wonder why so many organizations and communities are increasingly recruiting therapy dogs to come and interact with people.
5. Talking to Yourself Out Loud
Positive self-talk is great when you can practice it silently to yourself, but talking to yourself out loud as if you were talking to a friend might just be even more beneficial. Research has shown that speaking can modulate ongoing visual processing, which basically means that by actually saying the words you’re thinking out loud to yourself, your brain works more efficiently. Try it next time you find yourself alone — even if it’s just for a minute or so.
Which one of the above habits do you already find yourself doing regularly? Whichever habit (or multiple habits) you do, you should definitely keep doing it, because it’s just one more good habit to have that contributes to your overall health.