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5 Guilty Pleasures which are Actually Good for You

What keeps you motivated to push through the monotony of the most mundane Monday? Is it your glass of wine and a nice warm bath waiting for you back at home? Or the routine night walk with your best buddies? What is your “guilty pleasure”? 

Guilty pleasures are activities that we engage in, which feel good, but we believe are not good for us, making us feel guilty about doing it, or fearing the judgement of others getting to know about it. The fact is, we all have our guilty pleasures. What we often forget is that guilt is not synonymous with inherently bad. Guilt could arise from a social construct tied to the codes of morality, or could be a part of the new-age hustle culture which fetishizes clock-round productivity, leaving no time to laze around. 

Guilty pleasures are a great way to de-stress and unwind. They are really important because they help us get over the repetitiveness of daily life, taking us away from the problems bothering us, at least for a little while. While there's no denying that certain guilty pleasures can affect your mental health, there are also ways to engage in these activities that are good for your mental well-being. Here are 5 such guilty pleasures, which you don’t need to feel guilty about: 

1. Playing video games 

Video games have grown to gain the notoriety of being addictive, especially to adolescents and young adults. But this is not entirely true. Even though excessive gaming could be problematic, in moderation, video games could have many potential benefits such as stimulating the brain areas related to creativity, visual memory, and focus. Playing video games has also been shown to improve decision-making and multi-tasking abilities in addition to releasing several feel-good hormones. 

2. The occasional red wine 

Don’t get us wrong. This is in no way a promotion of alcoholism. In excess amounts, alcohol intake of any form can be disastrous for your physical and mental health. But as a guilty pleasure, red wine could have health benefits apart from helping you de-stress. Red wine contains many antioxidants which can lower the chances of heart disease, and lower bad cholesterol levels, and recently has also been studied in the prevention of certain types of cancer. 

3. Chocolate 

Sugars are generally bad for your overall health. But chocolate, especially dark chocolate, could be a healthy alternative to satisfying your sweet tooth. Cocoa contains a variety of good nutrients which have anti-inflammatory effects. It has been extensively researched in improving your mood and libido, and in promoting good heart health, and even has positive effects on your skincare routine. 

4. Going for a drive 

Driving a car or motorcycle is not just about that adrenaline rush. Driving is one of the healthiest guilt-free guilty pleasures you can adopt. Driving, in many studies, has been observed in improving cognitive function and coordination skills, enhancing mindfulness. It also aids in dealing with several mental health issues, including reducing stress, to even having calming effects on anxiety.

5. Listening to sad music (and crying) 

Listening to sad or melancholic music when you’re emotionally struggling, could be great for your mental and emotional well-being. It helps you address your emotions head-on rather than suppressing them and can help generate feelings of empathy, calmness, and nostalgia. It's called the “Paradox of Pleasurable Sadness”, a bittersweet name for a bittersweet emotion. 

Even if your “guilty pleasure” is not on this list, don’t feel guilty for having your moments of happiness. If you make sure that you’re not compulsively or excessively engaged in some sort of detrimental activity, go ahead, and live a little.