By

Explainer:

  • Want to really experience the holiday season? Get your peace, happiness and joy on every day of December. We show you how with daily, inspirational ideas and delightful to-dos that revolve around fun, food. and friendship.

  • December 1

    Image:
    John McLaird  /  featurepics.com
    Lace up those ice skates to burn calories and get much-needed fresh air.

    Seek icy thrills. Winter activities such as skiing, ice-skating, sledding, and tubing aren't just great calorie burners, they're exhilarating. "The speed and fresh air give you a sense of elation that you just don't get with many other workouts," says Robyn McKay, PhD, a positive-psychology researcher at Arizona State University.

    11 fun winter activities

  • December 2

    Belt out "Santa Baby." Singing is linked to stress reduction. Even better, join a choir. One study revealed that on average, choral singers rate their satisfaction with life higher than the general public does—even when the actual problems the singers face are more substantial than those of the rest of us.

    14 little ways to lift your mood

  • December 3

    Image:
    Albert Lozano  /  featurepics.com
    The smell of candy canes will pep you up for holiday festivities.

    Enjoy a candy cane. Studies show that just the menthol smell alone will pep you up to enjoy the holiday festivities. It's also yummy for your tummy, helping to calm an upset stomach.

    10 genius cures from the kitchen

  • December 4

    Munch meringues. These cookies have fewer than 20 calories a pop—and zero fat—so you can eat a handful without breaking the calorie bank.

    Try these 10 good for your waistline chocolate desserts.

  • December 5

    Add 27 Dresses to Your Netflix Queue. Even the expectation of watching a favorite comedy ups mood-boosting endorphins by 27%, shows new research.

    Surprising signs you're happier than you think

  • December 6

    Skip the baubles. Instead of requesting jewelry, ask your husband to take you dancing. People are happier when they have life experiences instead of receiving material items, experts say.

    10 little things connected couples do

  • December 7

    Image:
    featurepics.com
    Poinsettias, or any flower bouquet, give an energy boost that lasts throughout the day.

    Tap into the power of flowers. People feel better and perkier when they see a bouquet first thing in the morning, and the energy boost lasts throughout the day, reports Harvard researcher Nancy Etcoff, PhD.

    8 ways to start the day refreshed

  • December 8

    Get a helper's high. A recent study shows that people who were asked to perform a different kind act every day—small courtesies such as helping a neighbor shovel her walk—reported a marked increase in happiness after 10 days. Whether you do it with money or time, giving is good for you. "Helping others increases your own level of gratefulness and positive emotions," says Sheela Raja, PhD, a psychologist and stress researcher at the University of Illinois.

    10 tricks to happiness

  • December 9

    Send your old pillow packing. To wake up feeling your best, you need a comfy headrest. If your pillow doesn't quickly spring back after you fold it in half, it's time for a new one.

    Buying and caring for sheets, pillows and blankets that are as healthy as they are beautiful

  • December 10

    Hold hands with your Sweetie. When couples were more affectionate for a month, researchers saw a dip in their stress hormones and blood pressure and an increase in a hormone thought to calm and counter stress.

    Minor moves that offer major benefits for your mind and body

  • December 11

    Image:
    Jack H Kunnen  /  featurepics.com
    Holding a cup of warm beverage can make you feel more generous and friendly.

    Make friends with hot cocoa. Just holding a warm beverage makes us more generous and friendly, find Yale University researchers. Turns out warm hands are linked to warm hearts by way of a part of the brain called the insula, which helps process both physical temperature and emotions.

    Tips to refresh your mind, body and soul

  • December 12

    Stargaze. "Concentrating is very meditative," says Boston-based psychologist Alice Domar, PhD. "And you really have to focus to see things in the sky—the Milky Way doesn't have a sign on it!"

    Enjoy a sense of connection between mind and body with this visualization exercise

  • December 13

    Become a softie. Dry, flaky skin is a downer. Keep your skin baby soft by switching to a superhydrating body cleanser. Two that leave you silky smooth: Dove Winter Care Beauty Bar ($7 for six bars; drugstores) and Melvita Extra-Rich Shower Cream ($17; melvita.com).

    Keep your skin youthful and radiant with these award-winning beauty products

  • December 14

    Sit by a crackling fire. Tuning in to the sounds of nature—listening to tweeting birds or rain on the roof also qualifies—quickly reduced stress in one recent study.

    5 powerful tools that can help us all build resilience

  • December 15

    Bask in a Nutcracker ballet performance. Haven't seen Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy twirl and leap since you were a little girl yourself? Get tickets to a local community performance. New research shows that people who regularly attend cultural events feel healthier and more vital than those who don't participate.

    How your friends and family can help you boost your brainpower

  • December 16

    Grin as you greet the cashier. Having a cheery attitude during the holiday season increases the chances that those around you will feel warm and fuzzy too, according to one study.

    Fix it and forget it: Slow-cook crock pot recipes for under $2.

  • December 17

    Image:
    Ivan Hunter  /  Getty Images
    A facial can be a relaxing experience.

    Treat yourself to a salon facial. "I love facials for a relaxing experience and a temporary glow," says New Orleans dermatologist and Prevention advisor Mary Lupo, MD. Schedule it a day away from any big event, so the pinkness has time to fade.

    Easy ways to look and feel beautiful

  • December 18

    Make holiday cards gratitude cards. Instead of signing your cards with a generic "Hope all is well," take time to express to friends and family what they really mean to you. Studies find that showing gratitude increases your own happiness by as much as 25%.

  • December 19

    Savor your Sunday. Pick any Sunday this month and make it an errand-free day. Better yet, fill it with as many pleasurable activities as possible. Research shows that people have better attitudes, more energy, and fewer aches and pains on the weekends—a benefit that comes from having more control over your schedule and being able to spend time with loved ones.

    Enjoy your weekends with energy-boosting walking workouts

  • December 20

    Dive into a good book. "Reading can have a tranquilizing effect," says Timothy Shanahan, PhD, a professor of urban education and reading at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "I usually read before going to bed—it stops my mind from racing and allows me to get away from myself for a few moments, which helps me relax and sleep well."

    10 ways to feel sharper

  • December 21

    Get on a roll. A foam roller, that is. This hot fitness tool also has a more pleasurable use: rolling on it to massage tight glutes, deltoids, triceps, and hamstrings (about $25; sporting goods stores). "It's the next-best thing to a professional massage," says Michele Stanten, Prevention fitness director.

    Workout tools for maximum firming

  • December 22

    Hit the snooze button. Sleeping 7 ½ hours a night for 3 straight nights guarantees you'll get through at least five full sleep cycles a night, garnering the full benefits of stage-4 sleep (the most nourishing and restful)—and bolstering your immunity.

    5 ways to look bright-eyed

  • December 23

    Pamper your peds. Give shopped-out feet a well-deserved time-out with a 10-minute soak in the spearmint-, rosemary-, and eucalyptus-infused Aromafloria For Feet's Sake Perfectly Soft Spa Foot Soak ($10.50; aromafloria.com). Or, for instant relief, spritz them with Freeman Bare Foot Cooling Foot Mist ($4; freemanbeauty.com).

    Stop foot pain for good

  • December 24

    Image: Christmas tree farm
    Charles V. Tines  /  The Detroit News via AP file
    Being outside can strengthen your immune system, so head to a tree farm this year.

    Cut down your own tree. Being in the great outdoors reduces stress, improves mood, and boosts happiness, reports Eeva Karjalainen, PhD, of the Finnish Forest Research Institute. It may also strengthen your immune system by increasing the number and activity of cancer-destroying cells. For a feel-good feeling to the season, be sure to "treecycle."

    Simple things you can do to help the earth

  • December 25

    Window-shop. The same brain chemicals that make sex so pleasurable rise sharply when you're window-shopping. (No wonder Sex and the City had such a winning formula!) To avoid overspending, peek through the glass when stores are closed or you've left your wallet at home.


    Don't let the cold stop you

  • December 26

    Buy a new lipstick. The daily pick-me-up you'll get from it will be more satisfying than clothes or accessories, which you'll only wear every once in a while, finds new research.

    Keep your lipstick looking smooth

  • December 27

    Go for a moonlight walk. Two-thirds of British women recently confessed to being bored by their daily routine. You too? Then shake things up: Eat breakfast for dinner, reroute your commute, or take a new exercise class.

    Try these instant fitness motivators

  • December 28

    Mellow out to Mozart (even if you're usually a Lady Gaga fan). After three 28-minute sessions of listening to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, people felt more peaceful, more relaxed, and less stressed than those who tuned in to other music; they also felt higher levels of awe, wonder, and mystery.

    Choose your medicine: laughter, music, optimism

  • December 29

    Make a date with your college roommate. Simply spending time with a favorite friend increases levels of the hormone progesterone, which can lower feelings of anxiety and stress, finds a recent University of Michigan study.

    Keep these health-boosting buddies on speed dial

  • December 30

    Peel yourself a clementine. When researchers mapped the moods created by certain fragrances, they found the scent of this sweet, juicy fruit more likely to boost joy. Not only will a whiff of one help keep you happy, the vitamin C, calcium, and potassium in it will help keep you healthy too.

    Smells that boost your health

  • December 31

    Image: Vacation
    Dave Martin  /  AP file
    Boost your mood, plan a vacation trip.

    Plan your next vacation. Looking forward to a trip can boost your mood for as long as 16 weeks prior to the departure date, finds Dutch research.

    The healthiest times to do everything

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments