Even though the holidays are over, experts say there are some holiday habits that are worth keeping year-round, because they’re proven to help boost our happiness and health any day of the year! For example:

  • Gathering for family dinners. Most families spend half their food budget eating out today. But studies show that home-cooked meals – like the ones we have during the holidays – not only cost less, they also encourage healthier eating habits! Because kids who eat frequently with their families tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, than kids who eat out or alone.
  • Reminiscing. Like the tradition of gathering with loved ones to remember the “good old days.” A recent study found that reminiscing about the past boosts self-esteem, increases empathy, and strengthens our relationships. Psychologists say it’s because nostalgia triggers feelings of belonging, which gives us a deeper sense of who we are.
  • Putting cinnamon in our hot chocolate. According to new research in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, we should be doing that all year long. Why? Because adding a spoonful of cinnamon to hot chocolate, a latté, or our morning oatmeal, is one of the best ways to lower blood pressure, and help keep our cholesterol and blood sugar in check!
  • Volunteer in soup kitchens. We’ve read several studies showing that people who volunteer tend to live longer than people who don’t. The key is to do it for the benefit of others, rather than just to feel better about yourself. Researchers say it’s because doing something to help others helps enhance our feelings of empathy, which a Stanford study says is linked to being more optimistic. And optimism is a key to longer life.
  • Expressing gratitude. Like we do during Thanksgiving dinner. Psychologist Dr. Robert Emmons says 1-in-3 people report feeling better about their lives after making a list of things they were grateful for – as opposed to things that annoyed them. That reduces stress and, as a result, people have fewer health problems!
  • Going to church. A recent study found that people who go to church every week tend to have much lower blood pressure than people who never go, or who only go during the holidays! Researchers say it’s because spirituality makes us feel connected with the world. And there’s a direct link between how “connected” we feel, and having better mental health.

What holiday habits do you keep up all year long?