In some ways, the hallmarks of the holiday season can do a more than just spread cheer at your company. Some of the season's core attributes can also help boost engagement and creativity, and lower stress as well.

Harvard Business Review editor Andrew O'Connell is the author of Stats & Curiousities From Harvard Business ReviewIn an article on Quartz, he compiles some of those curious stats, which show how creativity can be enhanced by sensory effects. And wouldn't you know it, they all reflect a little bit of holiday spirit.

If you and your team can pull yourselves away from Amazon or Ebay during the holidays, these three seasonal standbys might actually improve your work.

1. The smell of peppermint: Peppermint, O'Connell writes, has been shown to improve engagement, as shown by a study of peoples' performances on the Nintendo Wii. This wasn't the first look into the effects of the scent of peppermint; O'Connell writes, "Other studies have suggested that peppermint enhances attention, memory, alertness and mood." Go buy some candy cane air freshners tonight.

2. The color green: The wreaths and holly and, hey, maybe even an office Christmas tree--anything green, really, is good to look at. O'Connell sites a study showing that people who looked at a green rectangle for two seconds were able to come up with more uses for a tin can than those who did not see the color by about 20 percent. Odd? You bet. "Why not red, blue or gray?" O'Connell writes. "Unclear, say the researchers, but they point out that green has strong associations with growth in many cultures."

3. A big ol' smile: Hey, it's the holidays. Brighten up! A study tracing heartrates shows that people who were forced to smile (quite literally, with chopsticks placed in their mouths) saw their heartrates drop by about 7 percent during a task. The holidays get a lot of flack for being a stressful time of year in general, but embracing the season and smiling a bit might at least counteract the pressure carried with your 7-year-old's note to Santa.

O'Connell also mentions background noise as a curiosity booster, with higher volume preferable, so I could conceivably suggest you also pump up the Christmas music...but I wouldn't wish that on anybody.

Published on: Dec 11, 2013