Why connecting at Christmas can help your health

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Firstly I’d like to wish you a happy Boxing Day. I hope you’ve had an amazing Christmas day sharing it with friends and family. I also hope it’s gone really well in terms of not eating to excess and you’ve been able to be reasonably active – but also had a good time!

I’m going to keep this blog brief, it’s really all about bonding and connection, because that is what Christmas is supposed to be about.

The reason bonding and connection is important for our health is it has a huge impact on our physiology. When we connect with others, we generate a hormone called oxytocin – which makes us feel good. We get oxytocin when we have sex, when we hug someone (even a stranger) – it’s been proven if you hold them for a little bit longer than feels comfortable, you get a hit of oxytocin. We get it as well when we breastfeed our babies (for women) or when men hold their child for the first time, we get a release of oxytocin. It feels good, and that’s the bonding and connection hormone.

Hopefully you’ve been feeling some of that bonding and connecting this Christmas. Or you’ve gone the other end of the spectrum and you can’t wait to get away – but we won’t go down that route! It’s all important for your health, it’s important for the impact that oxytocin and bonding and connection can have on your physiology – which is quite profound.

There’s a brilliant book by Dan Buettner called The Blue Zones. The Blue Zones are parts of the world (there’s about seven of them), that have the highest proportion of centenarians – people who’ve lived to 100 or above. There are three main things they do; firstly, they move a lot, not in a structured exercise kind of way but spend their whole lives moving in a proportionate way. Secondly, they grow and eat their own vegetables – which means they are getting very fresh organic produce. And thirdly, they have good family ties and community ties, which means they get lots of oxytocin, lots of bonding and connection hormones – which is extremely important. They’ve attributed those three things as the primary, but not the exclusive reasons why these people are living to be 100 or above.

So regardless of what sort of Christmas you’ve had, try and get back in there and really build some connections with people, or enjoy the connections you’ve got already. Enjoy the bonding element of Christmas, and see how that makes you feel. It really is going to make you feel much happier.

I talk a lot in my Diversity Role Model workshops (which is some charity work I do), about looking for the similarities between ourselves and not the differences. And can you imagine what the world would be like, what this city would be like, and your home if we look for the similarities between each other more often, and not the differences?

So to summarise, ensure you’re thinking about oxytocin and think about bonding and connection and have yourself a really great Boxing Day, and I’ll talk to you in 2019.

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Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit www.bodyshotperformance.com or email info@bodyshotperformance.com to register your interest in our services and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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