Bupa Global

Why happiness is your health ally this festive season

Woman with glasses smiling

For many the festive season is an opportunity for respite; a period to fill with food, friends, family and rest.

The vast majority of us will reason that our New Year's resolutions will counter our sedentary end to December. Some of us though, will still worry that all the time spent resting and relaxing might negatively affect our health.

In fact, there's much to be said for the positive health effects of taking time out to concentrate on family, friends and relaxation. 

1:19

Be present this festive season

Five (more) reasons to enjoy the festive season.
  • Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule boosts your metabolism. Amongst other benefits, sleep helps reduce ghrelin (the hormone which tells you to eat) while boosting leptin (the hormone which tells you you’ve eaten enough). Your lie-in or sneaky nap on the couch could be helping you to keep your weight under control.
  • Research indicates that “board game players have a 15% lower risk of developing dementia than non-players,” meaning that those hours spent in friendly contest – especially with older generations – could be doing you and your family long-term good.
  • Though the chances of heading out for a run in the snow may be slim, there are still plenty of ways to squeeze a little cardio exercise into your festive schedule (dancing, tree decorating, present wrapping...). Cardiovascular exercise has benefits across the board, including: reduced blood pressure, reduced body weight, and an increase in good (HDL) cholesterol.
  • Not only does a good bout of laughter help soothe tension in awkward moments, it can also have long term benefits. By combating the effects of distress (such as decreasing the release of harmful hormones and beta-endorphins) laughter can bolster your immune system, giving you a stronger footing in the fight against immune mediated illnesses.
  • Even the act of making a commitment to be more social can have a positive effect on your wellbeing. Research has shown that a lonely person’s white blood cells are less suited to fighting infection and cancer. Whether you’re enjoying time with friends and family, using the festive break to develop a new hobby, or volunteering your time to spend with some in need of a chat, social interaction can help boost the health and wellbeing of you and your community.


Let happiness be your ally in health this festive season, and carry the benefits with you into the next year and beyond.