Rebranding those unhealthy coping mechanisms: How to sell “healthy vices” to a skeptic

By in Opinions

Let me tell you a secret — we’re all deeply disturbed people with an undeniable need to be just a little bit bad. Coffee with two sugars — oh my! Kinky sex, a cigarette or two, or maybe you’re into something a little more extreme, like my friend who has a thing for popping pimples.

What would we be without those little idiosyncrasies that make us unique? Pretty boring, I imagine. Healthy vices are, sometimes, just what we need to get by. In fact, I’d argue that these things are more of a self-care regime than vices, but let’s just call them healthy vices. You might know them as:

Bingeing Netflix

Netflix is one of my favorite healthy vices, for days when I need to chill out and have some time for myself. Classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel or anything with David Attenborough — for starters. There’s also a great documentary called TIME: The Kalief Browder Story, which is heart wrenching. Then there is the Swedish film A Man Called Ove. The subtitles make it complete, and it’s perfect if you love dark comedies.


I know, it’s bad for teeth and not at all healthy. I should just eat an apple instead. You know what I like to say to people who say things like this? Nothing. Promptly unfriending them on Facebook for killing my vibe usually crosses my mind though.

It’s not like my diet consists of three square meals of blue whales. It’s such a beautiful thing to buy a bag of candy that’s still fresh and be reminded that, sometimes, money can buy happiness — in tiny mass produced bags, for under three dollars. Is that so wrong?

Sleeping in

Whenever sleep is possible, one should bathe in its luxury. As students, I’m fairly certain we don’t get enough of it, which is just the way of things. University life is demanding, and sometimes, you need to pull an all-nighter to finish up a project that’s worth 25 per cent of your grade. But every so often, when I get the chance to sleep in, I pounce on it.

And these are just three healthy vices that, when I’m feeling really rowdy, can turn into an all-nighter “pour une femme.” Do they make me too barbaric to ever be introduced to your mother or to get an invite to brunch with your closest friends? Of course not.

It’s time to rebrand unhealthy coping mechanisms as alternative solutions to dealing with the ridiculous pressures of university life, because surviving university will require an arsenal of tools. Embrace what works — in moderation, obviously. Healthy vices are realistic, and since most of us default to them anyway, why not celebrate them?

Self-care comes in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes, unhealthy things are just another way to help you unwind after a hard day of work. You deserve it, and you deserve not to feel evil while you’re doing it. Healthy vices are the new black.

Helana Rosales

Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk / Graphics Editor