The end of the year is often marked with a multitude of events. Holiday parties, family gatherings, office get-togethers. And while decorating, gift giving, and all the other holiday merrymaking can be seen as both a blessing and a curse, celebrations have a positive impact on your brain. Whether it’s simply participating in a local office party or enjoying a large meal with family and friends, here are four ways celebrations benefit the brain.
Reduces chances of depression
Studies show that gratitude is not compatible with depression or negative thinking. Holidays can be difficult for some. That coupled with long nights and cold weather can make this a tough time of year. People who join celebrations during this time of year often report lower levels of depression and anxiety than when they don’t celebrate. Being around people who care about you is important and helps reduce negative thoughts and feelings. Socialization has also been shown to improve your cognitive function, memory, and overall mental agility.
Improves your relationships
It’s such a common complaint: having to go home for the holidays. But what if you changed that sentence to you get to go home for the holidays? Family can be stressful and having your routine disrupted can be hard to deal with. But your perception of reality matters. If you go into an activity with a negative outlook, you’re far more likely to see negativity. Change that same perspective to one of love and gratitude, and you’ll change your entire experience. Expressing gratitude for the people in your life increases the connection in the relationship. Being grounded in this connection has profound effects on your brain, including elevating your mood, reducing your stress, and improving your overall brain function.
You feel better
Taking time away can help you return to your day-to-day routine feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Celebrations release the feel-good chemicals oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins, which lower the stress hormone cortisol. This doesn’t mean you simply are in a better mood, though your mood will improve. It also means you’ll have clarity of thought and feel more in control. You’ll feel less emotional which means you won’t be as reactive to difficult situations. This calm helps you make better decisions and improves your problem solving abilities.
Get quality sleep
When you improve your mood and reduce your stress, your brain can function properly, including releasing melatonin to help you get a good nights sleep. When your cortisol levels are elevated from long-term stress, it interferes with your brain’s ability to produce melatonin and that can directly impact how well you sleep. But celebrating can help you sleep by changing your physical activity levels, as well. Catching up with friends, laughing, and being outdoors can all help improve the quality of your sleep.
Celebrating is good for your brain. It releases happy hormones in your brain which lowers stress, helps with depression and anxiety, improves sleep, and helps you relax. Add in a hefty dose of gratitude and you’ll be sure to end the year on the right foot. Celebrations don’t have to be large, elaborate affairs to enjoy these brain benefits. Simply being around other people who you can laugh and connect with can have the same impact. So, this year, grab your mittens and a mug of hot cocoa, and join as many celebrations as you can. Your brain will thank you.