The Healthiest Way To Enjoy The Holidays
This holiday season is like no other.
And just because the world is upside down, it still spins at the exact same speed it did this time last year.
The sun will still rise…
And the sun will keep shining.
Because all of this is true, I’d be remiss not to write you a brief article on how to best enjoy this holiday season, at least as it applies to your health.
This has nothing to do about eating this, and not eating that.
Nor does it have anything to do with what resolutions you’re going to set regarding a gym membership.
Instead, I want to remind you that life is what you make it, and choosing to focus on a few principles that are often overlooked can easily help improve your health.
Without further ado, here are 4 things you can do this holiday season, heck, that you can do every day, that will improve your health.
4 Holiday Rituals That Are Guaranteed to Help Improve Health
The holidays are a special time because they give us a time to slow down and relax.
They’re a time to reflect on the year, and enjoy people we love.
Now, believe it or not, harnessing the power of these moments can actually improve your health.
1 - Practicing Gratitude Helps Improve Mental Well Being:
The practice of expressing gratitude, and focusing on what is good in life is a path to better health. And there are a number of studies that support this claim.
Not long ago, psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, conducted studies to see what happened to people when they focused on the good in life (as opposed to the bad).
They had 1 group of people write reflections on the positive things that had happened the previous week and the other wrote about negative experiences. A third group simply wrote beningly about what happened to them, with no attention paid to whether or not experiences were good or bad.
At the conclusion of the study (which lasted 10 weeks) they discovered the subjects who penned thoughts that focused on gratitude tended to be far more optimistic and felt better about their lives than the other groups. Even more astounding is they naturally exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than the group that write about their aggravation.
For you, that means you ought to take a long, hard look at all the good things that are happening in your life - even if it seems impossible. Doing so can work wonders on your inner state of health.
2 - Spending Time With Loved Ones Boosts Quality of Life
As hard as it may seem, especially with the aggravation proximity to family can elicit, spending time with loved ones can actually enhance the quality of your life.
For instance, your heart health can benefit by being around loved ones. How this works has to do with how friends and family can exert a stress-relieving effect on us and that can help to promote better blood flow and reduce inflammation.
A study from the Annals of Behavioral Medicine noted in a study that when subjects had a friend or family by their side during difficult times it helped lower blood pressure.
And there’s more evidence friends and family can help reduce stress. Carnegie Mellon University discovered that friends and family can help people deal with stress more effectively which caused them to avoid negative stress-reducers, like drinking alcohol, smoking or doing drugs.
Your family and friends might seem to be sources of stress sometimes, but if you take a moment to pause and reflect on how amazing your loved ones are… and express gratitude for them, you’re going to see that they’re actually game changers for achieving better health.
3 - Being Still Provides You Opportunities To Regenerate
Stillness, mindfulness, whatever you want to call it, is one of the practices that many people can start in the holiday season and continue on in their lives and watch the benefits pour in.
I’ve written about mindfulness before, but here’s what Harvard Health has to say about how mindfulness can affect health.
“ Studies have shown benefits against an array of conditions both physical and mental, including irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. But some of those findings have been called into question because studies had small sample sizes or problematic experimental designs. Still, there are a handful of key areas — including depression, chronic pain, and anxiety — in which well-designed, well-run studies have shown benefits for patients engaging in a mindfulness meditation program, with effects similar to other existing treatments.”
4 - Giving Promotes Better Health:
Everyone has heard the old adage, it’s better to give than to receive.
The bible talks about it in several verses, and it seems to be one of those things that “just makes sense”, right?
Turns out there are significant health effects associated with giving.
The Cleveland Clinic reports that if you give, you may experience the following health benefits.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Increased self-esteem.
- Less depression.
- Lower stress levels.
- Longer life.
- Greater happiness and satisfaction.
It doesn’t matter if you’re giving gifts (without the expectation of receiving anything) or volunteering at a soup kitchen, giving can help put you in a better place healthwise.
These Holidays Improve Your Health By Focusing On These 4 Tips
Look, you’re going to overeat this holiday season, it happens.
So instead of bemoaning the fact, be sure to focus on these 4 tips and you’ll discover that your health won’t take nearly as big a hit as it could.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all!