Showing posts with label health benefits of giving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health benefits of giving. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Health Benefits of Holidays

We have all heard about how the holidays can wreck our health ... overeating, gaining weight, drinking too much, forgetting to exercise, becoming exhausted or stressed and financial worry.  Knowing all this is enough to make us want to skip the holidays completely.

This is why I was delighted to learn that there are also some health benefits of holidays.  Perhaps we would enjoy this period of time more if we could just focus on the benefits and do what we can to minimize the risks.

Below are some ways you can fully enjoy the health benefits of holidays. 

Giving Really is Better Than Receiving

We all like to get presents.  Did you know that it also makes us feel just as good to give a present as it does to receive one?  In fact, many people feel better when they give someone a gift than when they receive one.  Of course, you do not want to overdo it and add to your financial worries.  However, when we focus on giving and helping others during the holidays, we really will feel better about ourselves.

Give the Gift of an Experience

Not all gifts need to be something that comes in a box or bag.  Why not give the gift of a trip, lessons, an evening at the theater or some other experience gift ... especially if it is something you can share with the recipient?  According to a 2014 Cornell study, people who anticipate an experience are happier than those who purchase an item.

Shopping Burns Calories

Is there any other time of the year when you find yourself walking through shops and malls more than you do during the weeks before Christmas and other gift giving holidays?  You burn between 200 and 300 calories every hour you spend mall walking.  Even if you do not do much shopping, it can help you to get out of the house and do some window shopping.  The holiday decorations and music will lift your spirits and you will burn calories at the same time!

Singing Holiday Songs is Calming

Did you know that singing can reduce your stress hormones and boost your natural oxytocin ... also known as the love hormone?  Singing also slows your breathing in a way similar to what happens when you practice yoga.  Even if you just softly sing along to the music in the grocery store or mall, you will feel good.

Some Holiday Treats are Healthy

As reported in other articles in this blog, one tablespoon of cocoa a day can lower your LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.  It also improves your cognitive function and contributes to a healthy blood flow.

Another treat that can help you is peppermint.  It reduces inflammation in the colon, although the amount in a candy cane may not be enough to accomplish this.  However, just sniffing a candy cane can reduce food cravings and cut the amount of calories you eat!

The Holidays Can Bring Out Feelings of Gratitude

Do you send out holiday notes or cards?  If so, consider mentioning the reasons you feel grateful for the year that has just passed.  People who jot down the reasons they are grateful tend to be more optimistic.  Some studies report that grateful people exercise more and see their doctors less.

Enjoy the Health Benefits of Holidays

Like many other health issues, your attitude can make all the difference.  Focus on the good aspects of the holidays, make sure you eat right, exercise and get plenty of rest.  Enjoy new experiences. Give fun gifts you can afford.  Sing.  Be grateful for anything good in your life.

Do these things and you truly will get the most out of the holidays.

Are you interested in learning more about improving your health as you age or other aspects of retirement planning?  If so, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles!

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credit:  Photo of mall taken by author, Deborah-Diane.  All rights reserved.

Source:  "Why Holidays Are Healthier than You Think," Reader's Digest, Dec. 2014/Jan. 2015

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Celebrating Thanksgiving Can Extend Your Life

As we approach the "Bermuda Triangle" of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve, many people approach this time of year full of fear, concern about unpleasantness, stress over financial demands, and worry about excess drinking.

However, if you approach the season with the right attitude and actions, you don't have to succumb to all this stress and worry.  Instead, you can turn this opportunity into a way to actually add years to your life.

How to Benefit from the Holidays

*  Research shows that people who have a large number of social connections tend to live longer.  Of course, if you have relatives who increase your stress, your best move is to minimize the time you spend with them and maximize the time you spend with the people you really enjoy.  While none of us can completely eliminate the time we spend with irritating people, we all have the right to pleasantly and politely avoid them as much as possible.  It is important that you do it politely, however.  Nothing can increase your stress like a family feud.  In other words, drop by the home of that busy-body aunt or alcoholic uncle for an hour or so.  Drop off a small gift or home-baked treat.  Smile a lot, make your excuses, and move on!  Don't try to change the the people who are a problem to you; instead, spend your energy increasing your social connections with the people who you care about.

*  Give what you can, but don't go into debt to do it.  Giving is as enjoyable as receiving for most people, and we would all like to give gifts to our family and friends when we can. Giving to others also seems to bolster our life expectancy.  However, there is no reason to go into debt in order to enjoy the pleasure of giving.  First, look around your home.  Do you own things that you don't want, but you think someone else would ... a pretty vase or souvenir from a trip?  Perhaps you have received a gift that just isn't right for you.  Re-gifting is perfectly appropriate, as long as you don't give it to the person who gave it to you!  Still need more gifts?  Head to the Dollar Store.  That is where you can pick up holiday coffee mugs, Christmas tree ornaments, small children's toys, bubble bath, hand cream, picture frames, vases and candy.  You can even buy cheap holiday cards and gift bags there.  For $20, you can purchase 15 or more gifts that will allow you to give something to everyone on your list.  It really is the thought that counts.  Baking cookies or making candy is also a wonderful way to give gifts that will delight your family and friends.  Want to do more?  The Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday is known as Giving Tuesday.  Make a donation to your favorite charity, even if it is just a couple of dollars.

*  Volunteer to help others.  Volunteers tend to live longer than those who don't.  Whether you have an on-going commitment at your house of worship or a local children's hospital, or you just show up when you can to help at a food bank or soup kitchen, volunteering will make you feel good about yourself.

*  Finally, let the holidays lift your spirits.  Rather that getting down on yourself about the things you cannot do, allow yourself to feel grateful and appreciative for the good things you do have in your life.  Let the holidays lift your spirits.  Sing your favorite holiday songs.  Drive around and look at the holiday lights.  Invite friends over for a sweet treat or a glass of wine.  People who are optimistic and happy tend to live longer, too.

May this be your best holiday season ever!

Use the tabs at the top of this blog to find other ways to maintain your health and increase your longevity.  The tab on Medical Concerns contains links to dozens of other helpful health articles.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credit: