If you thought your level of happiness affects your health, think again. Here are some reasons why you should put your health first instead.
If there i9s an industry that has grown exponentially over the last decade, it is ‘happiness industry’. There are even best-selling books that are dedicated to the subject, and happiness programs are springing up everywhere – giving life advice and telling you ways you can become happier.
However, a very good question arises from all these efforts – why are people bothering so much to find the secrets to happiness? Does that mean a person should stop focusing on their success and productivity? Or sometimes you may have tried to become happier, but there are always things that are holding you back, so why should you continue trying?
Recent studies show you – the links it has to good health cannot be understated. Maybe good health is the reason for happiness, but what causes the other is still unclear. However, here are some reasons for you to keep maintaining your happiness levels.
It takes care of your heart
Even though happiness and love may not start from the heart, they still remain good for it. In 2005, a study that was done revealed that happiness leads to lower blood pressure and heart rate, with the happiest participants in the research experiment having a lower blood pressure and heart rate (almost six beats slower per minute) after three years.
Research confirms the importance of happiness in another heart health factor – that of variability. This refers to the time period between consecutive heartbeats, and is a major indicator of a person who is likely to get various illnesses. In 2008, a study was done to see if happiness had a link with a healthier heart, and they found it to be true – the participants in the study that had the highest levels of happiness had a healthier pattern of heart rate variability. Over some time, all these effects will lead to major differences in the health of your heart.
Strengthens the immune system
Chances are, you know a person in your life who always seems to be grumpy and constantly complaining about different things. You might also know them for getting sick frequently, and it is not a coincidence – there is a definite link between stronger immune systems and high levels of happiness.
Think of it this way – when you get sick, your mood is dampened, and you have less energy to accomplish things or even stay positive. However, the more positive thoughts you have, the faster you heal, as two experiments in 2003 and 2006 proved.
These experiments go to show that activity within the immune system will vary, depending on your levels of happiness. When you are happier, you actually have a better response in your immune system, compared to people who are constantly grumpy, as evidenced by the increasing presence of antibodies in the saliva of happier people, which offers better defense against foreign substances.
Fights the effects of stress
Chronic stress is a very upsetting factor on a psychological level, and has contributed to the rising cases of mental health problems. However, it also contributes greatly to biological changes in your blood pressure levels and hormones. , even though it is on a temporary basis.
When a person is happier, the levels of cortisol in their blood are significantly lower than the least happy person. In fact, a study that was done in 2006 asked participants to rate their level of happiness for more than 30 times daily, and their blood was found to contain 23 percent less cortisol levels than the least happy person. That also meant their levels of blood-clotting proteins that spike up during stressful episodes was 12 times lower.
Fewer pains and aches
If you are suffering from chronic aches and pains, then unhappiness might be a major reason for that. In 2001, a research experiment asked a number of participants to rate their latest experiences of positive emotions, and compare that to the number of times they experienced heartburn, muscle strain and dizziness since they started.
Individuals that had the highest levels of positive emotions from the start actually gained in their health in the duration of the study, and they ended up as happier people by the time the study ended. This study lasted for five weeks, so the results prove that regular good moods actually improve your health compared to those that are unhappy.
Positive emotions also tend to , while in the setting of illness. For instance, people who suffer from chronic pain or arthritis are happier when they focus on maintaining positive emotions and thoughts like inspiration, enthusiasm and interest over the time of three months.
Combats disability and diseases
As you grow older and get into old age, among the conditions that might afflict you include increasing frailty, which is characterized by reducing balance, strength and endurance, and that raises the risks of death or disability. The benefits of being happy begin from your younger years though – the happier you are, the less likely you are to experience these problems in old age.
There is also a greater likelihood for heart health maintenance. A study done in 2004 on over 1,000 elderly people above the age of 65 showed that the happier they were, the less chances they had of experiencing a stroke within the next six years, especially in the case of men.
Prolongs your life span
You probably know about the connection between happiness and long life by this point, and this begins from decades earlier, even in your20s. The people with high levels of happiness from these stages of life experienced a longer life span.
Happiness is of course assisted by the quality of life, another happiness indicator, and both of them contribute to longevity of life. That is, unless you are severely ill.
Happiness might seem like an insignificant emotion, but it plays a large part in the quality of your life and health. It therefore seems safe to think about being healthier while also staying happier.