From books to movies—the secret to happiness is often explored in different ways. Some may think why bother? When you can focus on things like your daily tasks, productivity, and success, being happy may not seem like a priority. But you will be surprised that happiness, which is a collective term used for positive emotions like joy, contentment, and gratification, is way more than just a word or feeling and can actually help in improving your overall health.
Happiness helps in combating stress
When you take excessive stress, there’s an increase in the levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, in your body. An overproduction of cortisol contributes to disturbed sleep patterns, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, as well as weight gain. When you’re happy, the cortisol level in your body is lower, which means you have less stress too.
Happiness appears to strengthen your immune system
For years now, happiness has been linked to a stronger immune system. In most cases, those who are happy, are seen to catch fewer infections like the flu or cold, compared to those who are less happy. A study was conducted with 300 healthy people where a common cold virus was put into their bodies via nasal drops to study their risk of developing a cold. The results showed that people who were less happy from the lot were almost three times likely to get a cold compared to the ones who were happier than them. Additionally, being happy has a direct impact on the activities of HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis), which further regulates our hormones, immune system, stress levels, and digestion.
Happiness may help in promoting good heart health
Research suggests that happiness helps in keeping one’s blood pressure in check. Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the major risk factors associated with heart disease, which is one of the major causes of death worldwide. Thus, being happy may reduce your risk of developing heart disease, however, more substantial research is needed to validate this.
Happiness may help in reducing pain
According to studies, happiness has a key role to play in people’s perception of pain. It can broaden their perspective, bring in new thoughts and ideas to look at the brighter side instead of focusing only on the pain. People with conditions like arthritis, wherein there’s a lot of pain involved due to inflammation and stiffness of the joints, can increase their threshold for pain with higher positive well-being. While it will always vary from individual to individual, it is believed that having a positive mindset can pave the way for many coping mechanisms to battle pain.
Happiness promotes a healthy lifestyle
Let’s face it—when you’re happy, you want to do all the right things. Be it having a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables or incorporating healthy habits like sleeping on time, exercising, and avoiding alcohol—you’re on a roll.
Happiness may boost your life expectancy
Some studies have proposed that there’s a fine link between happiness and long life. While more research is needed to establish this as a fact, primarily, the link can be cited to beneficial behaviours that happiness helps us incorporate in our daily lives. As discussed above, happiness promotes a healthy lifestyle, wherein you follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly, don’t smoke or drink, have a healthy sleep pattern—these positive habits boost your life expectancy by reducing your risks of developing chronic health conditions.
Now that you know how a happy and positive mindset helps you be an overall healthy individual, try to incorporate good habits in your life and also do things that genuinely make you happy. If there’s anything that has been bugging you or keeping you away from a positive mindset, you can consult top psychologists online on the mfine app.