12 surprising benefits of the holidays
So while you're cooking, giving thanks and caroling this season, keep in mind these 12 ways in which you're also boosting your mental and physical health.
Reminisce about past good times
Eat peppermint candy canes
Sing holiday carols
Gather around the dinner table
Sprinkle cinnamon on your hot chocolate
Volunteer at a soup kitchen
... to add years to your life.
Helping others less fortunate than you creates a win-win situation. When you volunteer at a soup kitchen, for example, you're not only helping a fellow human being, you may also be adding years to your own life, according to a study by the University of Michigan and University of Rochester Medical Center. Researchers evaluated data from a random sample of more than 10,000 Wisconsin high school students from their graduation in 1957 until 2011. Those who volunteered for the benefit of others (as opposed to doing so to feel better about themselves) were more likely to be alive than those who did not volunteer or those who volunteered for their own self-benefits: 4.3 percent versus 1.6 percent. "Doing a service also generates or enhances empathy for others," says James Youniss, research professor in the department of psychology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.