Sure, it’s fun to feel happy, but did you also know it’s good for your health? Scientists have long studied the link between happiness and good health. Generally, people who are happier have fewer health issues, both emotionally and physically. Additionally, they tend to live longer and experience fewer serious medical problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Let’s dig a little deeper with three ways that happiness improves your health.
1. Happiness makes your heart healthier.
Next month, we celebrate American Heart Month, making now the perfect time to remind you to take care of your cardiovascular health. There are a few reasons why being happy improves your heart:
- To start, positive mental health lowers your risk of heart disease.
- People who are happy and generally more positive have a higher amount of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), better sleep, and less cortisol, a stress hormone linked to heart disease. Less cortisol may also lower the chance of developing a serious health condition, like high blood pressure or diabetes.
- Some studies show that those who are happy have higher amounts of serotonin, which has been shown to decrease cortisol levels.
2. Happiness improves your immunity.
Yes, smiling more leads to better immune system functioning! In fact, the health benefits of laughter far outweigh the benefits of exercise. When you experience unpleasant emotions, you tend to feel stress or anxiety, which weakens your immune system. Conversely then, when you are happier, you experience less stress, which allows your immune system to work better. A more resistant body wards off sickness, which leads to a healthier and longer life. It also contributes to a lower risk of colds, flu, and other illnesses.
3. Happiness gives you energy.
Individuals who feel happier tend to experience less fatigue, depression, and pain. They often report higher energy levels and a greater sense of wellbeing, which in turn encourages more enjoyment of exercise and more movement in general.
This benefit extends into your social life as well: The more energy you have, the more likely you are to spend time with your friends and family. Those who are more socially active and successful in their relationships are happier than those who are not. Even better, happier people are generally more confident, which leads to great career success and a potentially higher income.
Now that you know how happiness improves your health, it’s time to reap the benefits!
Of course, it’s not possible to feel happy every second of every day. It is possible, though, to inject small moments of happiness into seemingly insignificant moments. Appreciate something as simple as that first sip of hot coffee, the sound of a loved one’s laugh, or the warmth of sunshine on your face. Infuse that feeling of contentment wash over into your life.