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5 Ways to Boost Joy, Ward Off Colds, and More With Thanksgiving Traditions


This time of the year includes spending loads of time with friends and family. What’s great about that is your yearly customs with loved ones can also protect your body in many ways. Celebrating Thanksgiving with these five traditions is a surefire way to stay happy and healthy!

Solve problems by enjoying your beloveds.

We look forward to connecting with friends and family at the dinner table, via video chat or on the phone during the holidays. And doing so makes you a master problem solver! University of Michigan scientists say just 10 minutes of conversation spurs an 81 percent improvement in working memory and mental flexibility. This helps you find smart solutions to tricky issues like how to fit more folks around the table! Friendly talks broaden your perspective, which scientists say is a more effective mental exercise than crossword puzzles and brainy games.

Ward off colds and viruses with a fall stroll.

Taking a walk after your Thanksgiving feast is a time-tested way to help digest the big meal. Another benefit: It lowers your risk of catching colds, flu and other upper-respiratory tract infections. Appalachian State University scientists say a 30-minute brisk walk spurs a 63 percent rise in immunity-boosting natural killer cells. Moderate-intensity exercise ups circulation, which mobilizes your immune system.

Erase aches and pains by admiring the centerpiece.

Marveling at the flowers on the dining table, decorative candles, and other beautiful decor bumps up your holiday spirit fast. It’s also a quick way to reduce joint pain, a backache and other ouches by 30 percent, report investigators in Italy. That’s because seeing beautiful art distracts your mind from discomfort, which eases ache-inducing muscle tension. On top of that, seeing artwork prompts the brain to release a flood of its own natural painkillers for speedy relief. Bonus: Festive orange and yellow hues sharpen focus in as little as 60 seconds!

Boost joy by snapping photos.

What better way to commemorate “turkey day” than by taking photos so you can enjoy the memories for years to come? And while you’re snapping away, make sure you include a few selfies so you’re in the photos with your loved ones too. A new Japanese study found that seeing your own face triggers a spike in positive feelings by activating rewarding dopamine pathways in the brain.

Lower BP by giving thanks.

It’s the perfect time to give thanks. And expressing gratitude just once a week keeps your systolic blood pressure (the top number) lower even when stress spikes, Irish scientists say. Reminding yourself of reasons to be grateful makes you calmer overall, so your body has a less intense reaction to annoying situations (like being stuck in holiday traffic).

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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