10 Huge Health Myths

Want to feel better fast? Here's what works and what doesn't, as adapted from the new book "Better Each Day" by Jessica Cassity

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Myth

Listening to a guided meditation tape is the best way to work through worries.

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Fact

Skip meditation tapes and reach for your favorite tunes instead. Self-selected music relieves stress more effectively than relaxation tapes, according a study published in the journal Psychoso­matic Medicine.

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Myth

Take a multivitamin every day to get all the nutrients you need.

 

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Fact

Multivitamins are best for people who do not eat an adequate diet or are in a life stage that calls for more of one specific nutrient. Otherwise, most people are better off eating a healthy, balanced diet and only taking supplements for the nutrients they lack.

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Myth

Only imbibing coffee during the work week is healthier than drinking it daily. 

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Fact

"Irregular coffee drinking can hinder your performance," says Peter Rogers, PhD, head of the department of experimental psychology at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. To mitigate these effects, drink coffee every day, switch to decaf blends, or drink a strong cup of joe only on the days you absolutely need it, such as during a long road trip.

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Myth

The best way to retain information is to jot it all down immediately after you learn it.

 

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Fact

If a thought-provoking movie, lecture, or book leaves your brain ready for a rest, go ahead and tune out for a little bit. Researchers have found that taking a mental break—like zoning out while you wash the dishes or simply switching your thoughts to an easier topic—can help you retain any information you just learned. 

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Myth

Never go to bed angry.

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Fact

Sometimes it's better to give an argument some processing time, says Robert Gould, PhD, chair of the department of conflict resolution at Portland State University. It may help you better formulate your position and better acknowledge what your partner has said.

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Myth

Only get a flu shot to ward off seasonal flu and cold symptoms.

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Fact

Get a flu shot to protect your ticker, too. They can lower your chances of having a heart attack by 19 percent—or more if you get immunized early in the season, say British researchers. 

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Myth

The best way to kick back and relax is by turning on the telly.

 

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Fact

Watching TV is not a restful activity. "A lot of television is designed to keep you totally engaged," says Marc Berman, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Michigan. To help ease your mind, try a restorative activity instead, like exercising.

 

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Myth

Thou shalt not gossip.

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Fact

Talking positively about other people—even if they're not present—can boost your mood, according to researchers from Staffordshire University in the United Kingdom. Research participants who had more upbeat conversations experienced an increase in self-esteem, and gossipers in general felt a higher degree of social support than less chatty types.

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Myth

Avoid all forms of impulse shopping.

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Fact

Certain circumstances make people desire something more, not less, after missing a chance to buy it, says Vanessa M. Patrick, PhD, associate professor at the Uni­versity of Houston’s C.T. Bauer College of Business. If a purchase is tied to a goal or is rare, consider buying it on the spot because it may become too difficult or expensive to track down later.

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Myth

Gifting flowers is a thing of the past and is now considered rather thoughtless.

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Fact

When in doubt, buy flowers—they're a surefire way to get someone to smile, according to Jeannette Haviland-Jones, PhD, professor of psychology at Rutgers University. According to a study she conducted, flowers bring a smile to eveyone's face, more so than other gifts like a fruit basket or decorative candle.

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Text adapted from Better Each Day by Jessica Cassity.

 

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First Published Tue, 2012-01-31 16:32

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