The Pleasure Principle
In a society so focused on consumption, deprivation can look like the height of glamour (just open any fashion magazine); but pampering ourselves is as vital to health as what we eat and how much we sleep. So next time you want to indulge, try one of these pleasures on for size:
Eat chocolate: Previously thought of as a vice, serotonin-releasing chocolate—the darker the better—has emerged as a boon to health. Thanks to its powerful antioxidants, regular consumption of dark chocolate may reduce your chance of stroke, help prevent sun damage, and generally put you in a better mood.
Sip a glass of wine: But not 10. In a study of 150,000 French people, those who drank moderately were thinner, more relaxed, and healthier overall. They also had higher good cholesterol levels and lived longer than both their teetotaling and heavy drinking counterparts.
Enjoy physical affection: Of course sex gets top billing in this department, releasing a cocktail of stress-reducing, joy-inducing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins. But even cuddling or quality time with your pet will boost your levels of oxytocin—the hormone that helps us trust and connect with others. Studies on rats have demonstrated an increased capacity for wound healing when oxytocin was administered, so simply spending extra time with your loved ones may make you healthier.
Go shopping: It's a sad statement about our culture of consumption (and perhaps not the most helpful advice in this economy), but hitting the market offers a variety of health perks: from elevating your mood to boosting your immune system, also meeting social needs and keeping your brain agile.
This is the last part of the GOOD Guide to Living Better. Check out the Home, Work, and Eating sections for more healthy living tips.
A MORSEL FROM HEALTHYMAGINATION
Lie on your back, heels down, knees up. Bring your left hand towards your left foot andreturn.
This exercise works your oblique (waist) muscles. Exhale as you reach, and concentrate
on using your waist—not your shoulder—to do the work. Do 10 on each side.