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Give the Gift of Health this Holiday Season

The other morning at the bus-stop I asked my three sons what was on their gift list for the upcoming holiday season. After some extensive pondering, I was able to wrangle the following not-so-exciting answers: For my oldest, a pair of ski goggles; for my middle, new socks; and for my youngest, a fuzzy pillow.  While one might argue that this list could mean that my kids were grateful for the simple things in life, having raised them for the past 10 years, I know the truth.  The realization is that we, along with most families in the Glen Mills and Chadds Ford areas, are fortunate to have our basic life needs covered (I guess with the exception of clean socks!) and, indeed, have no need for additional stuff. This conversation led me to reflect on the items in life for which we can all be grateful this holiday season: family, good memories, and good health.

What is good health?

“Good health” can mean different things to different people and, depending on the current status of one’s life at a particular instance, can even mean different things to the same person.  Most people begin a-fresh with new resolutions in January, abandoning detrimental health habits for more sustainable ones.  And perhaps this new commitment is best served after the temptation of holiday cookies and elaborate feasts have passed.  However, the holidays offer a unique opportunity to celebrate and share health with those you love, committing together to a lifestyle that affords us the opportunity to live longer and fuller lives. 

Top 5 healthy holiday gifts

This holiday season, considering sharing one of these five gifts of health with someone you love:

  1. A journal:  According to Huffington Post journalist Thai Nguyen, journaling provides the opportunity to enhance many areas of your health including boosting your IQ, inspiring creativity, enhancing self-esteem, and evoking mindfulness.  A daily practice of journaling creates a discipline of reflection that offers a lasting sense of calm through the remainder of the day.  Worried someone will see your intimate thoughts? Consider burning or tearing your journal entries after writing them, serving as a cathartic way to put aside any thoughts that burden your psyche.
  2. A coffee mug: Coffee? Yes, while many gravitate towards coffee to satisfy a simplistic caffeine addiction, many do not realize that coffee offers unique health benefits. A recent study in the European Journal of Neurology revealed that drinking a cup of coffee daily reduced the risk for Alzheimer’s disease by inhibiting plaque formation within the brain.  Drinking coffee (especially out of a special mug) also promotes a calm morning or afternoon ritual which is proven to lower stress levels.
  3. A yoga mat: Many already appreciate the benefits of this ancient practice, but what most don’t realize is that you don’t have to be Gumby to benefit from yoga.  Yoga promotes enhanced blood flow to the muscles, organs, and brain as well as assists with enhancing balance. YouTube offers many free yoga videos if you aren’t able to attend a session at a local facility. And owning your own yoga mat helps commit you to the practice, with an added benefit of not having to perform downward dog on a mat used by someone else’s bare feet.
  4. An activity tracker: Whether you choose Garmin, Fit Bit, Apple, or other cheaper brands, it is easier than ever to track your activity level using technology.  Looking to improve your physical activity level, lose weight, or hold yourself more accountable to exercise? Wearables allow the user to set goals, participate in competitions, and track progress to ensure that the fitness initiatives set during the good intentions of January are not forgotten as the year progresses.
  5. A gift card for a fitness class: What better gift than sharing a hobby you enjoy! Zumba, Spin, Yoga, Dance classes, Barre, Personal Training; the options for fitness are endless.  Research indicates higher compliance with exercise when performed with a friend, so consider gifting a class to your best bud so you can experience the joys of exercise together.  If you or someone you love is unable to exercise because of pain, consider an evaluation with your local physical therapist who can help remedy the problem and get you or your friend back to the activity you both enjoy.

Reflect on good health

As you build your list of holiday gifts this season for those you love, consider abstaining from the temptation to purchase nonsensical goods for the sake of gifting, and instead, explore some healthy holiday gifts that promote a greater purpose.  For on the morning of your holiday tradition, as you sit around sharing good memories with friends and family, instead of celebrating commerce and contributing to waste, perhaps you can reflect on the fortune of good health, however it may look to you.  And if by chance you end up receiving socks, consider sending them to my son.  Happy Holidays!

Yours Truly,
Kristen Wilson, co-owner of Action Potential Physical Therapy

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