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We all know about the bursts of endorphins released after a good run. These happy hormones remind us of the connection physical health has with our happiness. Well, the connection is true the other way round as well. Working on being happy can actually improve our health!
So, we got Bhavna Barmi, a clinical psychologist, to discuss how watering our happiness creates a healthy body.
On the impact being happy has on our health, she shared: “ It promotes optimism, builds resilience, and increases our problem-solving skills.”
Here are four ways that positive well-being and thought can help improve our physical health:
1. Working on being happy actually promotes a healthy lifestyle
We have all heard about how eating a healthier diet, exercise and deep sleep shall make us feel content. Turns out it works the other way round too!
Have you noticed how you gravitate towards wholesome food when you’re happy? Interestingly, in a study done by the US National Library of Medicine, it was found that positive well-being can actually improve your fruits and vegetable intake. According to research, fruits and vegetable-rich diet helps lower risks of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
We all have experienced a phenomenally deep sleep after a happy productive day. How does that happen though? A US National Library of Medicine study stated that being happy improves our sleeping habits. This ups our levels of concentration, productivity, exercise performance and helps maintain a healthy weight.
2. Happiness fuels our immune system
Ever noticed how the happiest people you know rarely get sick? Well, being happy can actually help your immune system work better. In a study done by the US National Library of Medicine, it was found that unhappy people are almost three times as likely to develop the common cold compared to happier people.
Can our emotional health actually help us fight off diseases? A study found that a positive outlook actually helped create a high antibody response against Hepatitis B. How though? The US National Library of Medicine study stated that happiness impacted the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This helps regulate your immune system, hormones, digestion, and stress levels.
On how happiness helps prevent sickness, Dr Barmi stated, “Individuals who feel calm in stressful situations are less prone to sickness.” Whenever any disease attempts to knock at your door, add ‘Do things that make you happy’ to your preventative treatment list!
3. Being happy can actually relieve you of physical dard
Well, being unhappy can make us feel pain and quite literally so! Being happy can actually help with it. In a study done on arthritis, it was found that higher positive well-being can reduce the pain and stiffness that comes with the condition. Dr Barmi stated, “ It helps in improvements of several long term conditions and short term aches as well as pains.”
The same study further stated that positive well-being encouraged individuals with painful arthritis to walk extra 711 steps each day. The less happy counterparts were 8.5% less likely to do so. How does this happen though? Research states that even with excruciating pain, positive emotions help build effective coping strategies since it broadens their perspective by encouraging new thoughts and ideas.
4. Positive well being helps promote heart health
Who knew the blessing ‘khush raho’ has a real impact on our bodies? It can actually make our heart happy. On the impact of happiness on heart health, Dr Barmi shared “There is a link between happiness and measure of heart rate variability which refers to the time interval between heartbeats and is associated with risk for various diseases.”
Research suggests that being happy can lower the risk of heart disease by 13-26%. How does that happen? Happy people indulge in heart-healthy behaviors such as physical activity, avoiding smoking, and healthy eating habits. A positive state of mind keeps you on the right track!
Along with working on our productivity, we must also prioritise doing activities that make us feel happy and fulfilled. This shall ensure that our entire well being shall work at an optimum level.
So, push away those negative thoughts and welcome some positivity to live a healthy life!