Christmas cookies and cocktails; overly-large, festive meals; frantic shopping and the accumulation of debt…at times it can seem like the holidays are wrecking us! But there are a few holiday traditions that are actually good for your health. Use the days between now and January 1st to focus on some of these great traditional activities and give yourself the mood boost you really need.
1. Attend Parties and Gatherings with Family and Friends – If you’ve got that one pain-in-the-butt relative, then you might disagree with me, but gathering with family and friends really is good for your health. A number of studies have shown that social interaction promotes both mental and physical health, contributing to longevity. So head off to your next event with a smile on your face and the goal of leaving afterward with a few more laugh lines.
2. Belt Out Some Carols – Singing, especially in a group, is a great mood booster! A 10-month study conducted in East Kent, UK found that participants who stuck with the singing program showed significant improvements across a wide array of mental wellbeing markers. The findings suggest that singing not only elevates mood in the moment, but can have long-lasting, positive mental health benefits.
3. Give to Others – The range of studies confirming that gift-giving is good for us is impressive. Whether it be charitable giving to those in need, or traditional gift-giving to friends and family members, researchers agree that the act of giving is mood-lifting magic.
4. Deck the Halls – If you bothered to drag out the decorations and string thousands of tiny lightbulbs around your house this year, your efforts have been rewarded! It turns out that all those bright lights and colorful decorations really do make us feel more jolly. Bright lights, especially in the blue and white hues, can have a strong effect on our mental well-being. The blues can normalize our circadian rhythms, while the white lights help fight depression, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
5. Make Those Resolutions – Ah, the dreaded New Year’s Resolutions! Many people skip them altogether these days, happy to believe news articles claiming that they’re just a waste of time. In fact, studies have found that, if done properly, those resolutions really can help you change your habits in the coming year. When smart goal-setting techniques are applied and the proper attitude is adopted, a New Year’s resolution can a very powerful vehicle for change. Within the next two weeks, I’ll be posting a New Year’s Guide to Successful Change here on the blog, so keep an eye out for it!