Happiness improves your health
Recent research has shown what many people have suspected all along: that happiness and good health are linked, and that happiness can positively affect your level of health. Scientific studies have found the following ways that happiness improves your health.
- Happiness boosts your immune system; in tests they found happier people are less susceptible to illness compared to their grumpy counterparts.
- Happier people have healthier hearts; in tests, they found happier people had a healthier heart rate variability pattern.
- Happy and optimistic people live longer; studies show that happy people live considerably longer and that optimistic people live 19% longer on average.
- Happier people experience less pain; in tests, people with arthhritis and chronic pain were compared for their levels of pain, the results showed that the more positive people were less likely to experience increased pain.
- Happier people experience less disability and disease; studies suggest happy, positive and optimistic people are less susceptible to disease and frailty.
- Happiness beats stress. Stress activates an increase in stress hormones and blood pressure (prolonged exposure to higher levels of these has negative effects on our health); in tests happier people recovered quicker from exposure to stress.
Unfortunately, the opposite applies to unhappiness, stress, worry, anxiety and depression, which have negative effects on our health and wellbeing. These negative states (when chronic and prolonged) can trigger disease and disability, due to a negative impact on the immune system and an increase of inflammation within the body.
The good news is that a positive and happy outlook can counteract these unhealthy negative states.
Laughter really is the best therapy! Here’s a few tips for a happier and healthier life:
- Do simple things that you enjoy. Take time out a few times a week to enjoy a hobby, sport or activity that gives you pleasure.
- Exercise. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals that help relieve stress and the symptoms of depression.
- Eat healthy and light. Good, nutritious food boosts your mood and energy levels. Avoid eating too much because it will leave you sluggish and bloated. A diet high in fruit and veg, and plant-based food is a good starting point for a healthy lifestyle. A vegan diet consists of vegetables, grains, nuts, fruits and other foods made only from plants. Many argue that we should all be making a conscious effort to reduce consumption of animals and animal products for the sake of our health and for the planet. Vegan or not, a diet high in fruit and veg, and plant-based food is a good starting point for a healthy lifestyle.
- Fun in the sun. Getting safe sun exposure feels fantastic and it’s a great way to produce vitamin D. Get a little sun on your bare skin every day – but don’t overexpose yourself and don’t get burnt.
- Appreciate nature. Go outdoors and enjoy nature – it’s a tonic for your mental health.
- Be creative. Being creative is mentally therapeutic and rewarding; so draw, write, sew, cook, play an instrument, sing, dance, do gardening or woodwork or start a new project!
- Turn the TV off! Watching too much TV is bad for you. Live life instead! Go and engage your brain in a creative or pleasurable activity instead.
- Laugh. Laughing releases endorphins (nature’s painkillers) – these chemicals counteract stress hormones within your body, boosting your immunity and reducing inflammation within your body to prevent disease and disability.
- Be grateful. People who express gratitude cope with stress better and are more positive. Be grateful for each day, think positive, be optimistic, exude hope, love, success and confidence. You will be happier and healthier for it.