The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. It gives you an excuse to spend time with friends and family, it means presents, tons of delicious treats, and, if you’re lucky, there’s the added bonus of time off from work. But did you know that the holidays are scientifically proven to be good for your health, too? So many of the traditions—from putting up holiday decorations to singing carols—can have a positive effect on your mental and physical well-being. Keep reading to learn more about some of the holiday health benefits of this holly jolly season!
1. Putting up holiday decorations boosts your mood.
The sooner you get your Christmas tree up, the more your health benefits during the holidays. “It does create that neurological shift that can produce happiness,” said Primary Care Provider, Dr. Isabel Bueno. “Christmas decorating will spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone.” As Dr. Isabel Bueno explains, the mere act of decorating for Christmas can bring out your “inner child” by eliciting happy childhood memories.
2. Buying gifts reduces your blood pressure.
In recent behavior studies, researchers found that people who decided to spend money on others reported higher levels of happiness. And another study identified yet another holiday health benefit that comes from spending money on others: lower blood pressure. So don’t be afraid to be generous this season—if not for others, then for your physical and mental health! Yep, giving gifts might actually be one of the most selfish things you can do this Christmas.
3. Receiving gifts makes you happier.
It’s great to give gifts, but receiving them can be pretty good, too, especially if the gift is an experience. Researchers have revealed that experiential gifts strengthen relationships more than material gifts, regardless of whether the experience is shared with the giver. It is shown that strong friendships are a good predictor of health and happiness as we age, receiving experiential gifts during the holidays might just be the key to living a long, happy life.
4. Caroling is good for your heart.
For many people, singing is an effective stress reliever. And if you sing with a group during the holidays, the benefits could go even further. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology monitored the vital signs of singers during several joint singing tasks and found that choral singing increased the amount by which a person’s heart rate varied. And that’s good news, since low variability in heart rate may be linked to high blood pressure.
5. Your Christmas tree can destress you.
It has proven time and time again that being surrounded by nature can help to boost well-being—so it’s fair to assume that your festive fir will have similar effects. And those holiday health benefits might be even greater if you get up close and personal with your tree; smelling and touching indoor plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress. What’s more, since trees purify the air, having a real tree in the house might stop you from getting a cold or the flu.
6. Family mealtimes reduce obesity.
Eating together as a family—which happens often during the holidays—is beneficial for your mind and your body. For instance, regular family meals—at least three per week—improves nutrition, reduce the risk of obesity, and encourage healthy eating habits.
7. Watching holiday movies makes you feel jolly.
Before you grumble when someone turns on a Hallmark movie this holiday season, you should know that those cheesy flicks might just give you the emotional support you need this season. As behavioral scientist Pamela Rutledge explained to NBC, Hallmark movies “allow us to experience the emotions associated with social validation, the yearning for connection, compassion, and empathy.” According to Rutledge, they “provide simplistic solutions to all those stressors that the holidays can bring: family conflict, isolation, and financial pressures.”
8. Resolutions keep you in shape.
It’s typical for most people to start thinking about the new year around the holiday season. And while sticking to those New Year’s resolutions might be easier said than done, research shows that most people have their health in mind when they set them. According to an Inc. survey of 2,000 people, the most popular New Year’s pledges for 2020 were to “diet or eat healthier” (71 percent), followed by “exercise more” (65 percent).
To increase your chances of sticking to your resolutions, Primary Care Provider, Dr. Isabel Bueno suggests starting small, joining a support group, and being kind to yourself. See? Your health sounds like it’s improving already!
9. Family traditions boost self-esteem.
Bonding over family holiday traditions helps to maintain close relationships, instill a sense of belonging, and boost self-esteem. “Family connections can provide a greater sense of meaning and purpose as well as social and tangible resources that benefit well-being,” said Dr. Isabel Bueno, Primary Care Provider at The Medical Group of South Florida.
Not sure how to get closer to your kin this season? A simple but effective way to bond during the holidays is with music. “If you have little kids, and you play music with them, that helps you be closer to them, and later in life will make you closer to them,” says Dr. Bueno. So crank up your Christmas playlist and enjoy a family sing-along this holiday!
10. Playing Holiday games keeps your mind sharp.
And if your family holiday tradition is playing games like cards, chess, and Monopoly, you’re doing wonders for your cognitive function, too! It is found that people who began playing more games in their later years were less likely to exhibit a decline in thinking skills, particularly in memory and thinking speed. This includes puzzles too!
We are here for your health!
So don’t be afraid to throw yourself into the family fun over the holidays. Whether you’re giggling at your kids’ jokes around the dinner table or getting into the holiday spirit with a Home Alone viewing, just know that you’re benefitting your health every time you chuckle!
We hope you take advantage of our online booking services and schedule your appointment to check in on your health! If you have not done so already, book your annual wellness visit for the new year. Start the year with a clean bill of health.