Healthy and Happy Really Do Go Together!
You’ve heard this more times than you can probably remember but we’ll say it again, we are in unprecedented times. Even as we find our way out of the recent pandemic and begin to come to a place of political calm, we cannot help but feel the effects of the ongoing stress we have encountered. Even though struggles are an unavoidable aspect of life, there is also room for happiness. It turns out that when we prioritize happiness, we’re more likely to enjoy better health, too.
The Health Benefits of Happiness
Studies suggest that a sense of happiness is good for the nervous system. When the nervous system is regulated toward calm, physical and mental health improve in various ways, including:
- A stronger immune system
- Better sleep
- Stronger problem-solving skills
- Decreased risk for cardiovascular disease
- Better stress management skills
- A higher pain threshold
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased risk of stroke
- Longer life expectancy
How to Foster a State of Contentment
It is unreasonable to expect to feel happy all the time. “Happy” is a fleeting emotion just like sadness or anger. What psychologists encourage is for us to foster a state of contentment. Regardless of the stressors we face, we can find a better sense of calm through a variety of practices. Suggestions include:
- Get outside. Regardless of the time of year or the time of day, being outdoors and in the fresh air can bring you back to center. When possible, go outdoors in the early morning hours when the sun is gentle on your skin and eyes. This brief session of sun-exposure stimulates vitamin D production which in turn boosts mood.
- Eat fresh. In an Australian study, participants who consumed eight or more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day measured higher scores on a life-satisfaction survey. It is no secret that eating fresh foods serves up more nutrients for the brain and body. We now know that doing so can also simply make life feel that much sweeter.
- Although living through a pandemic brought changes in how we work, the stress of living through a pandemic cost many people their sleep. Seeing a light at the end of this tunnel, we are now encouraged to prioritize those Z’s as much as possible. Instead of tuning into a screen right up until the lights are out, researchers suggest reading. In one study, reading before bed reduced stress by 68%.
We love helping our patients live happier, healthier lives. To schedule a well-woman checkup or aesthetic service at our Houston office, call 713.955.6560.