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Holistic Holiday Gift Guide

December 17, 2012 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

I’m starting a new holiday tradition this year. Instead of only buying material gifts for family and friends, I’m also going to give myself the gift of better mental (and physical) health. In my case, this will involve more consistent exercise, daily meditation and positive affirmations. The best thing about this gift to myself is that it will likely benefit many of those around me. I’ll be calmer, yet more energetic and mindful in my actions and reactions. I believe that’s the best kind of gift – one that extends beyond oneself.

If you’d like to join me in seeking out a more health promoting and peaceful frame of mind, consider adopting one or more of the following mind-body practices. Laughter Therapy: Recent studies report that watching 30 to 60 minutes of a funny film or TV show a few times a week reduces fatigue in new mothers and stress-related biomarkers and reactions (chromogranin A level and dry mouth) in older and younger individuals. Meditation: Daily meditation not only supports improved mental health, but also lowers the risk and severity of colds, influenza and cardiovascular related mortality. Yoga: Twice-weekly yoga practice increases the levels of beta endorphins, “feel good neurotransmitters” and lowers systemic inflammation (interleukin [IL]-6 and tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-α). What’s most impressive about yoga is that the benefits become apparent as early as 10 days after the initiation of practice.

Around this time of year there’s lots of talk about how stressful the holidays can be. There are even publications in the medical literature that attempt to identify why certain health conditions such as sudden cardiac death are more common towards the end of the year. In addition, as the new year approaches, there are also the inevitable discussions about New Year’s resolutions. But, instead of focusing on either of these trendy headlines, why not choose to make a lifestyle change a little earlier this year? Give yourself the gift of better self care. Do it for yourself, someone else or, best of all, everyone involved. Happy Holidays!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Effect of Laughter on Salivary Flow Rates & Levels of Chromogranin A (link)

Study 2 - Effects of Laughter Therapy on Postpartum Fatigue & Stress Responses (link)

Study 3 - Meditation or Exercise for Preventing Acute Respiratory Infection(link)

Study 4 - Stress Reduction in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease (link)

Study 5 - The Effects of Yoga on Psychosocial Variables and Exercise Adherence (link)

Study 6 - Efficacy of a Short-Term Yoga-Based Lifestyle Intervention in Reducing (link)

Study 7 - Hypothesis Holiday Sudden Cardiac Death: Food and Alcohol Inhibition (link)

Meditation May Reduce Cold & Flu Severity

Source: Ann Fam Med. 2012 Jul-Aug;10(4):337-46. (link)

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