Christmas is good for your wellbeing
The festive season gets a bad press when it comes to health – between the alcohol, the food and the TV, most people write it off as a time to simply indulge and sod the consequences. But the reality is that Christmas can be good for your health and wellbeing.
Spending time with family and friends
95% of parents cite the key to happiness as spending quality time together as a family, yet (outside of the festive period) the average family manages this for just 36 minutes per day. Christmas allows time to connect, with families stepping out of their usual roles to behave the way they wish they did more often. Board games in particular, are richly interactive, offering some light-hearted competitiveness and plenty of eye contact, making them an ideal opportunity to bond.
Eating as a group
Less than half of families sit together at the dinner table at mealtimes, and only one in 50 families eats a regular roast dinner. The Christmas dinner flies in the face of this trend however, with 88% of families eating as a group. Eating together is good for mind (encouraging more positive interactions) and body (eating at a table is more mindful, making us less likely to overdo it).
When else can you catch 40 winks in the afternoon, apart from at Christmas? Even a short sleep reduces stress, increases productivity, helps cardiovascular function and improves alertness and memory, according to the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians. They advise taking a siesta on a sofa or comfy armchair rather going to bed though, where you’re more likely to fall into a deep sleep.
The cliché of Christmas is everyone slumped on the sofa, but in reality people actually spend more time on their feet. From parties, to Christmas shopping, slaving away in the kitchen or taking a Boxing Day stroll, Christmas forces us to be less sedentary.
Christmas is the time when people start thinking about making positive changes for the New Year. According to a 2015 survey, the most popular New Year pledges were to “do more exercise” followed by “lose weight” and to “eat more healthily”. At our Clearing event back in the Summer, former Olympian and world-renowned sports scientist Professor Greg Whyte, explained the reason why so many why so many of us fail to keep our resolutions: we wake up on 1st January with great ambition; but then try to move too rapidly towards it. Just as cars cannot change from Gear 1 to Gear 5, challenges have to be broken down. Greg cites his success (which includes getting David Walliams across the channel and Eddie Izzard through 43 marathons in 50 days) as making small steps and celebrating more of the journey.
… And as for Christmas dinner…
We do tend to eat a lot on Christmas day, but the festive feast itself isn’t short of some nutritional goodness. Between low fat, high protein turkey, vitamin A rich carrots and high fibre sprouts you don’t have to feel bad about everything on your plate. Even the Christmas pudding, with all its dried fruit, will be giving you vitamin B, potassium and folic acid… just watch how many Quality Streets you follow it up with.