The Health Benefits of Celebrating the Holidays

Celebrating yourself and those around you can be fun, but did you know there are also some health benefits? It’s true – both big and small celebrations can reduce stress, leading to a boost to your overall health. The social aspect of the holidays is a huge wellness plus. People who interact with others are happier and healthier than those who are less social, and those who are sociable tend to live longer. The holidays are a time to celebrate what you’re grateful for. Many studies have shown that feeling grateful is linked to better sleep quality, a better mood, and more feelings of optimism.

New studies show when you get festive, your brain and body reap a cascade of health perks. The positive vibes in the air this time of year have confirmed, powerful effects on mental and physical health. Celebrating sets off a cocktail of brain chemicals that is like a natural high:

  • Oxytocin-a natural hormone that can induce anti-stress-like effects which are associated with a reduction in blood pressure, increases pain thresholds, bonding, and happiness, stimulates positive social interaction, and promotes growth and healing. Oxytocin is released when you’re around other people.
  • Noradrenaline is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter. In the brain, it increases alertness, promotes vigilance, enhances the formation and retrieval of memory, and focuses attention.
  • Endorphins-Substances made in the body that can relieve pain and gives the feeling of well-being.
  • Dopamine-a neurotransmitter manufactured by the body and used by the nervous system to send messages between nerve cells.

Caroling is good for your heart, and singing is an effective stress reliever. Singing with a group takes the benefits even further. A 2013 study monitored the vital signs of singers 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.

Christmas decorating will spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone. Your Christmas tree can destress a person. Research has proven time after time that being surrounded by nature can help boost well-being. A fresh festive fir will have similar effects. Smelling and touching indoor plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress. In addition. Trees purify the air, and having a real tree in the house can help stop people from getting a cold or the flu. The Agricultural University of Norway found, in a 2000 study, sickness rates fell by up to 25 percent in offices and school settings where plants were present.

Giving (today November 29th is giving Tuesday, by the way.) There are many reasons that people donate to a cause whether it is giving of themselves or monetarily:

  • Personal connection
  • To make a difference
  • To make the world a better place
  • Spiritual or religious beliefs
  • Tax breaks

There is another personal benefit to a person’s philanthropy. Generosity doesn’t just give a person that “warm and fuzzy” feeling. Giving can reduce anxiety and stress, counter depression, lower blood pressure, better sleep, less pain, and improved moods.

Bonding over family holiday traditions boosts self-esteem, helps to maintain close relationships over generations, and instills a sense of belonging.

So find the jolly, stop being Grinchy. Negative feelings and attitudes can create chronic stress, depletes the brain chemicals required for happiness, and damages the immune system. Lean into the holiday hype your body mind and soul will thank you as well as those around you.

Check out the Pittsburgh Concert Chorale dates here: PCC-SoundsoftheSeason-Poster2










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