Savoring Is for More Than Food: How to Savor for Health Benefits

7 minute read

It’s time to start savoring every moment. While the origin of the word “savor” comes from the Latin word sapere, which can mean to taste or to know, it has evolved to be more inclusive in its meaning. Today savoring something goes beyond taste and smell and can include all of the senses working independently or together.

Psychologically speaking, the idea of savoring is a popular construct that references a person’s ability to recognize and appreciate the things around them. Developing this ability within yourself can be key to a number of positive results.

What Are the Benefits of Savoring?

Margaret Pitts, PhD and Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Arizona is an expert in this field and studies the benefits associated with savoring communications. In her paper, published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Dr. Pitts explores how people perceive communication and how they can transform the experiences.

She posits that savoring is not simply enjoying something, but that there is a cognitive factor involved as well. It’s more like enjoying a moment and then being very aware that you’re enjoying it and being happy about that.

The benefits from savoring are that the positive emotions you have can accumulate over time and work to create a beneficial state that reduces the effects of a negative event.

Positive emotions expand awareness and make it more likely that we’ll accept new ideas and broaden our outlook. Negative emotions are equally important to help you learn appropriate responses in the short term. When negative emotions become problematic is when they stick around and cause an individual to spend too much time worrying about the future or fretting over the past.

One of the signs of emotional wellness is the ability to let go of negative emotions and hold on to positive ones longer while appreciating them. Actively practicing to savor moment and communication can help you develop this emotional wellness.

Once you develop this emotional wellness, research has found that you can enjoy improved health that includes lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, better weight management, improved blood sugar levels, and longevity.

How Does Savoring Really Work

Savoring is closely related to mindfulness. Both ideas encourage your to be present in the moment and to embrace what is happening while making note of everything around you and how your senses perceive it.

Where savoring breaks away from mindfulness is that it’s meant to be done in very positive situations. Mindfulness simply asks that you be aware of the moment, but savoring encourages you to be extra cognizant of positive events and to focus on the positive aspects of it.

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When done correctly, savoring doesn’t just prolong the moment and make it better, it allows you to bring it up as a memory and enjoy it again or it gives you a better ability to savor future events as you anticipate them.

The goal of becoming an expert at savoring is that you can be in a situation and focus on only the good aspects. For example, moving can be quite traumatic, but if you focus on the good parts of meeting new people, experiencing new places, and making a new home your own, you can get through the difficult part of moving with greater ease and agility.

How to Become an Expert at Savoring

If the idea of savoring is intriguing to you and you can see the benefits, it might be time to begin practicing savoring in your life. But how do you begin, especially if you’re used to focusing on negative factors and finding solutions. An article in Greater Good Magazine, published by UC-Berkeley provides 10 steps to take positive events and transform them into savored moments.

Share: If you’re feeling good, then share it with others. Positive events and news can make everyone feel better and create a sense of bonding.

Mental pictures: If you see (or hear, smell, taste, etc.) something that’s positive to you and that you like, take a moment to appreciate it and save it. If it’s visual, then a mental picture is the perfect example.

Congratulations: If you’ve done something you’re proud of, then congratulate yourself. You should enjoy your successes, no matter how big or small they are.

Use your sense muscles: Flex and strengthen your senses. Shut out distractions and learn to focus more with your senses, one at a time.

Be loud: Laugh out loud and express your good feelings. Don’t hold laughter in or try to suppress. Although there may be cultural considerations, try not to put your hand over your mouth when you’re smiling or giggling, just let it happen.

Compare feelings: If you’re facing a tough time, compare your situation to one that’s worse. If you’re struggling because you hate your boss, take a moment to be thankful that you have a job.

Get lost: Have you ever watched a movie or read a book and felt like the world disappeared around you? Learn to lose yourself in other things so you can truly focus on the experience and the feelings it evokes. Try getting lost in a walk, a work of art, a creative project, or any hobby you enjoy.

Be thankful: Always look for things that you have or that are in your life that make you happy and be thankful for them. If someone is important to you, tell them regularly. If you can, verbalize your appreciation whenever you can, hearing the words can make you feel it even more.

Lean toward happy: While negative emotions are important, try not to dwell on them. If possible, process your negative emotions and move on. On the other hand, you should definitely dwell on your positive emotions and replay them often.

Time: Be aware of the fact that time goes by quickly and both the best and the worst moments pass. When you’re aware of this, you’re less likely to take the good times for granted and more likely to see a light at the end of the tunnel when a bad time arises.

The Bottom Line

Learning to be an expert at savoring moments in your life can improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It can also have a profound effect on those around you.

While some people seem to be born with the “savoring gene,” other people have to work at developing it. The good news is that, with practice, everyone can learn how to savor those good moments and take joy in the fact that they’re experiencing pleasure.

When you’ve become adept at savoring moments, you can recall them later and reap exponential benefits from one encounter. You can also anticipate future events and find happiness in the things you think will excite you.

All of this savoring leads to better coping skills when troubles or negative events come your way. This puts you firmly on the path to emotional wellness.

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