“So many of us live in this chronic stress state, and stress stiffens our arteries
and causes inflammation throughout the body,” says Dr. Steinbaum. But every little
move we make to boost “happy” brain chemicals like oxytocin and serotonin helps, she says. These feel-good seasonal
customs could do the trick:
When you start seeing potted poinsettias
and amaryllis at the grocery store, pick some up. Recent research from the University
of North Florida found that women felt less stressed after living with flowers in
their homes for a week.
Sentimental holiday music is everywhere right now—and that may be good for your immune
function, stress level, and mood. “The idea is that pleasurable music alters neurochemicals,” says neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin, PhD, author of This Is Your Brain on Music. “The key is music that people find soothing, and that’s different for each person,” he explains. Not a fan of Christmas carols—or just sick of them? You might want to add a “yoga music” station to your Spotify. A study presented at the 2018 European Society
of Cardiology meeting suggests that just 10 minutes of meditative tunes before bedtime
can improve your heart rate variability, or how quickly your heart rate can adapt to
support your body’s needs.
As season’s greetings arrive in your mailbox,
display them on a table or up on the walls, to remind you of your family and friends far and
wide. One review of research found that the effect of social ties on life span is stronger
than that of exercise. What’s more, other research has shown that long-distance
connections with friends can be just as impactful as local, face-to-face friendships.