Health

6 Simple 60-Second Tricks to Make Your Holidays Happier and Healthier

Great news! You can feel happier and healthier while enjoying all the holiday merriment and still have time to boost wellbeing. Studies show it only takes a minute!

Ward off worries by texting a friend.

A quick text just to say “hi” and wish your pal happy holidays makes you more serene for the rest of the day, reveals research out of the University of California, Irvine. Check-ins with loved ones make you better able to cope with whatever life throws at you by reminding you that you have caring support, which keeps you calm.

Bonus: Scientists say it also keeps your blood pressure up to 3 points lower than folks who don’t take a minute to text.

And imagine a happy ending! Picture your dreams coming true-like finally taking that winter getaway to a cozy cabin for a minute a day, and in two weeks you’ll have a 39 percent lower output of the stress hormone cortisol in tense situations, say Dutch investigators, helping you stay relaxed.

Boost cheer by reaching high.

Staying merry and bright is as easy as stretching your arms toward the sky. This opens up the diaphragm so you can take deeper breaths, which calms an overactive nervous system that’s responsible for managing mood-impacting brain chemicals.

And according to a Japanese study, within just 1 minute, you’ll feel a noticeable surge in happiness. To do: While comfortably sitting or standing, reach your arms upward and gently lean back. Inhale for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds and repeat for a total of 1 minute.

And let chocolate melt! Popping a Hershey’s Kiss in your mouth and letting it melt on your tongue for 60 seconds spurs a rush of mood-boosting pleasure four times greater than munching on it right away, say scientists at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. By slowing down, you’re more aware of the flavor and texture proven to make your mood soar.

Tame tiredness by thinking of coffee.

For an instant boost, spend 60 seconds thinking back to that first sip of coffee you enjoyed this morning. Australian scientists say merely remembering a cup of joe is enough to perk you up-no sipping needed. Past experiences of drinking caffeinated beverages condition your mind to link them with more pep, so your brain automatically gets stimulated when you think of coffee.

Or look at a Christmas tree! Gazing at a lush pine tree (in person or in a photo) boosts alertness in 40 seconds, a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found, by giving your mind a refreshing break.

Ease aches by squeezing a pillow.

And light a candle! Inhaling a pleasant scent, such as vanilla, peppermint or pine, for as little as 30 seconds lowers pain intensity by 43 percent, according to a University of Quebec study. Favorite aromas activate the orbitofrontal cortex in the brain, which reduces sensitivity to discomfort.

Sharpen focus with citrus water.

Next time you’re pouring yourself a glass of water, take a few seconds to toss in a slice of lemon and breathe in its citrus aroma as you sip. That quick addition acts as a natural focus-enhancer.

Why? A study at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation found that the scent of lemon stimulates your cerebral cortex, or the decision-making, problem-solving portion of your brain, so you feel more mentally sharp in no time.

And turn on the lights! To remember where you hid your gifts, switch on an extra lamp — it’ll keep your recall sharp! Michigan State University scientists say bright light activates the memory centers of the brain.

Set the DVR to stay sniffle-free.

Record a holiday show or movie that’s sure to make you laugh. Then a few times throughout the day, spend a minute thinking about the fun you’ll have watching your show that night.

Scientists at California’s Loma Linda University found that looking forward to a chuckle prompts the body to churn out 87 percent more growth hormone, which shores up your immune system to fend off viruses.

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