It sounds obvious; living a life full of joy and happiness is good for your health. Anybody would say they knew that being happy is good for them. However, the emotional and mental state of happiness goes beyond how you feel. Happiness impacts the way you live positively and constructively. And despite the ugly experiences that life deals us, we should strive not to let those hardships steal our joy. If you are questioning how happiness can make you healthier, then read on.
The following four reasons below will show you how being happy can indeed make you healthier!
Influences Healthy Habits
It should come as no surprise to you that you’re more inclined to do things that are healthy for you when you’re happy. It’s true! For example, you may feel more inclined to cook a healthy meal at home, go to the gym by yourself or with a friend, or go for a walk outside. These habits may be normal to you, but you’re likely doing them out of a desire resulting from having a happy mindset.
The most exciting part of having happiness influence healthy habits is the cycle it induces. These activities—exercise and healthy eating— further contribute to your overall well-being and happiness. You’re improving your physical and mental health through nutritious food and physical exercise.
You often hear folks talk about the health benefits of exercise and a balanced diet. But in truth, happiness leads you to create these habits and others that support your overall being. So it’s in all our best interest to do things that make us happy, if not for this reason alone.
Human life is precious and short. These facts also support good reasons to focus on things that bring you joy. But most importantly is that added influence to create healthier habits to enhance your life positively.
Reduces and Combats Stress
Need I say more? These reasons alone should make happiness your priority. Stress is inherent in all of our lives. It doesn’t matter whether you’re stressed about an upcoming interview, a project at work, finances, a relationship, or something else. Most people know firsthand how awful stress feels.
When you’re stressed, happy is the last word you could ever use to describe yourself. And that’s because they’re essentially opposites. The effects of stress reach many aspects of a person’s life, particularly their health. Health-related issues that arise from stress include reduced immunity to viruses, poor sleep, depression, and more. And that’s just scratching the surface. Other examples include chest pain and rapid heartbeat, frequent colds, infections, and loss of sexual desire.
When you’re happy, your body functions differently. You release feel-good hormones (dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin). All of these are known to promote positive feelings of happiness and pleasure. When you are under these positive influences, you think about life from a positive perspective and have a higher propensity for healthy activities.
In these periods of happiness, your cortisol levels decrease—the hormone responsible for stress. And the opposite occurs when you’re stressed (cortisol levels increase)—another reason to focus on being happy.
So the next time you feel stressed, do something that makes you laugh or lifts your spirits. Try to stay in that mental and emotional space as much and as often as you can. Your body will naturally do what it knows how to do and help you feel good and relaxed.
Improves the Immune System
One of the surprising effects of being happy is the increase in immunity. And these days, we all need that! Research has shown those study participants who feel vigor and have a positive view of the world—those who are happy have a greater ability to fight viruses than those who are less happy.
Essentially, when you’re happy, it’s not just a feeling in your mind. The feeling of happiness is tied to your whole body as your mental state affects your body’s physical functions. Happiness coincides with healthy practices, as discussed above, but it’s also related to the cells, organs, and tissues in your body.
A positive mental state leads to reduced stress, also discussed above, which in turn frees up your body to focus on fighting off viruses. In other words, the more you experience genuine happiness, your stress levels decrease, and your body can heal. If you want a quick boost to your immune system, go for a run, read a book, relax, or do anything that brings you joy!
Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is all too common all over the world. In the US, nearly 1 in 4 Americans die from heart disease every year. While that statistic is frightening, the positive news is that happiness can protect your heart health.
Positive emotions, from the psychological feeling of happiness, can help reduce hypertension in adults. It’s not surprising when you take into account all of the above effects of happiness. Hypertension is related to stress, poor diet, and a lack of exercise—all of which are affected by being happy.
The Bottom Line
All science aside, happiness is good for you. In fact, it may be the most important thing in all of our lives! We all want to be happy, and we all want our family and friends to be happy. I don’t know anyone who genuinely wants to be miserable and has enormous benefits from being that way. Whether you know this or not, you DESERVE to be happy, so start making it your priority. Just as oxygen is necessary to your lungs and life, happiness is just as crucial for your physical and mental well-being.