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31 Days of Healthy, Happy Holidays

Sunday, December 01, 2013

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This is not my original work - You can find PDF at -

December 1: Seek Icy Thrills
Winter activities such as skiing, ice-skating, sledding, and tubing aren't just great calorie burners, they're exhilarating. "The speed and fresh air give you a sense of elation that you just don't get with many other workouts," says Robyn McKay, PhD, a positive- psychology researcher at Arizona State University.

December 2: Belt Out "Santa Baby"
Singing is linked to stress reduction, even better, join a choir. One study revealed that on average, choral singers rate their satisfaction with life higher than the general public does--even when the actual problems the singers face are more substantial than those of the rest of us.

December 3: Enjoy a Candy Cane
Studies show that just the menthol smell alone will pep you up to enjoy the holiday festivities. It's also yummy for your tummy, helping to calm an upset stomach.

December 4: Munch Meringues
These holiday cookies have fewer than 20 calories a pop--and zero fat--so you can eat a handful without breaking the calorie bank.

December 5: Add 27 Dresses to Your Netflix Queue
Even the expectation of watching a favorite comedy ups mood-boosting endorphin's by 27%, shows new research.

December 6: Skip the Baubles
Instead of requesting jewelry, ask your husband to take you dancing. People are happier when they have life experiences instead of receiving material items, experts say.

December 7: Tap Into the Power of Flowers
People feel better and perkier when they see a bouquet first thing in the morning, and the energy boost lasts throughout the day, reports Harvard researcher Nancy Etcoff, PhD.

December 8: Get a Helper's High
A recent study shows that people who were asked to perform a different kind act every day--small courtesies such as helping a neighbor shovel her walk--reported a marked increase in happiness after 10 days. Whether you do it with money or time, giving is good for you. "Helping others increases your own level of gratefulness and positive emotions," says Sheela Raja, PhD, a psychologist and stress researcher at the University of Illinois.

December 9: Send Your Old Pillow Packing
To wake up feeling your best, you need a comfy headrest. If your pillow doesn't quickly spring back after you fold it in half, it's time for a new one.

December 10: Hold Hands With Your Sweetie!! When couples were more affectionate for a month, researchers saw a dip in their stress hormones and blood pressure and an increase in a hormone thought to calm and counter stress.

December 11: Cut Down Your Own Tree - Being in the great outdoors reduces stress, improves mood, and boosts happiness, reports Eeva Karjalainen, PhD, of the Finnish Forest Research Institute. It may also strengthen your immune system by increasing the number and activity of cancer-destroying cells. For a feel-good feeling to the season, be sure to "treecycle."

December 12: Stargaze - "Concentrating is very meditative," says Boston-based psychologist Alice Domar, PhD. "And you really have to focus to see things in the sky--the Milky Way doesn't have a sign on it!"

December 13: Become a Softie - Dry, flaky skin is a downer. Keep your skin baby soft by switching to a superhydrating body cleanser. Two that leave you silky smooth: Dove Winter Care Beauty Bar ($7 for six bars; drugstores) and Melvita Extra-Rich Shower Cream ($17;

December 14: Window-Shop - The same brain chemicals that make sex so pleasurable rise sharply when you're window-shopping. (No wonder Sex and the City had such a winning formula!) To avoid overspending, peek through the glass when stores are closed or you've left your wallet at home.

December 15: Bask in a Nutcracker Ballet Performance - Haven't seen Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy twirl and leap since you were a little girl yourself? Get tickets to a local community performance. New research shows that people who regularly attend cultural events feel healthier and more vital than those who don't participate.

December 16: Grin While You Shop - Having a cheery attitude during the holiday season increases the chances that those around you will feel warm and fuzzy too, according to one study.

December 17: Treat Yourself to a Salon Facial - "I love facials for a relaxing experience and a temporary glow," says New Orleans dermatologist and Prevention advisor Mary Lupo, MD. Schedule it a day away from any big event, so the pinkness has time to fade.

December 18: Make Holiday Cards Gratitude Cards - Instead of signing your cards with a generic "Hope all is well," take time to express to friends and family what they really mean to you. Studies find that showing gratitude increases your own happiness by as much as 25%.

December 19: Savor Your Sunday - Pick any Sunday this month and make it an errand-free day. Better yet, fill it with as many pleasurable activities as possible. Research shows that people have better attitudes, more energy, and fewer aches and pains on the weekends--a benefit that comes from having more control over your schedule and being able to spend time with loved ones.

December 20: Dive Into a Good Book - "Reading can have a tranquilizing effect," says Timothy Shanahan, PhD, a professor of urban education and reading at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "I usually read before going to bed--it stops my mind from racing and allows me to get away from myself for a few moments, which helps me relax and sleep well."

December 21: Get on a Roll - A foam roller, that is. This hot fitness tool also has a more pleasurable use: rolling on it to massage tight glutes, deltoids, triceps, and hamstrings (about $25; sporting goods stores). "It's the next-best thing to a professional massage," says Michele Stanten, Prevention fitness director.

December 22: Hit the Snooze Button - Sleeping 7 1/2 hours a night for 3 straight nights guarantees you'll get through at least five full sleep cycles a night, garnering the full benefits of stage-4 sleep (the most nourishing and restful)--and bolstering your immunity.

December 23: Pamper Your Peds - Give shopped-out feet a well-deserved time-out with a 10-minute soak in the spearmint-, rosemary-, and eucalyptus-infused Aromafloria For Feet's Sake Perfectly Soft Spa Foot Soak ($10.50; Or, for instant relief, spritz them with Freeman Bare Foot Cooling Foot Mist ($4;

December 24: Make Friends With Hot Cocoa - Just holding a warm beverage makes us more generous and friendly, find Yale University researchers. Turns out warm hands are linked to warm hearts by way of a part of the brain called the insula, which helps process both physical temperature and emotions.

December 25: Sit By a Crackling Fire - Tuning in to the sounds of nature--listening to tweeting birds or rain on the roof also qualifies--quickly reduced stress in one recent study.

December 26: Buy a New Lipstick (ok not good choice if you're a guy) The daily pick-me-up you'll get from it will be more satisfying than clothes or accessories, which you'll only wear every once in a while, finds new research.

December 27: Plan Your Next Vacation - Looking forward to a trip can boost your mood for as long as 16 weeks prior to the departure date, finds Dutch research.

December 28: Mellow Out to Mozart - Yes, even if you're usually a Lady Gaga fan. After three 28-minute sessions of listening to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, people felt more peaceful, more relaxed, and less stressed than those who tuned in to other music; they also felt higher levels of awe, wonder, and mystery.

December 29: Make a Date With Your College Roommate - Simply spending time with a favorite friend increases levels of the hormone progesterone, which can lower feelings of anxiety and stress, finds a recent University of
Michigan study.

December 30: Peel Yourself a Clementine - When researchers mapped the moods created by certain fragrances, they found the scent of this sweet, juicy fruit more likely to boost joy. Not only will a whiff of one help keep you happy, the vitamin C, calcium, and potassium in it will help keep you healthy too.

December 31: Go for a Moonlight Walk - Two-thirds of British women recently confessed to being bored by their daily routine. You too? Then shake things up: Eat breakfast for dinner, reroute your commute, or take a new exercise class.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thanks for the link, this will be helpful and there are many I can do and share with the DH.
    1603 days ago
    I can work in a couple, at least!

    If I reached for hubby's hand; he'd probably think I had done something that's a no-no! We just have never done that! We have mostly lived our own lives with a few common likes. And, we have survived 51 years. Just proves opposites DO attrack!!!
    1603 days ago
    Wonderful. I think I'll do most of them! Our days of cutting our own tree are over for awhile. We can even laugh at some of our tree cutting adventures, now. Thanks for the ideas. emoticon
    1603 days ago
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