Why Happiness and Health Go Hand in Hand

Are you a glass half-empty or half-full kind of person? Hopefully, it’s the latter. Being positive and looking at the sunny side of life can keep you healthier, research is telling us.

One study found people who are happy, lively, or exhibit other positive emotions are less likely to get sick when they’re exposed to a cold virus. Researchers also found that when happy people contract a virus, they report fewer symptoms.

 

Stay Positive

So can you talk yourself into staying well? Maybe. This coming flu season, focus on wellness and tell yourself you refuse to get the flu rather than “I always get the flu this time of year.” One study shows a positive attitude produced greater amounts of flu antibodies. Yet another study showed being positive helps your body produce more antibodies in response to vaccinations. Researchers believe the brain and immune system have an open, active communications line.

Studies also show health benefits of other positive characteristics. For example, showing compassion improves the immune system, while people who are forgiving and don’t hang onto their anger have fewer heart problems.

Have a Happy Heart

Supporting this, a Columbia University study showed happy people had less risk of heart disease over 10 years — quite simply, people with high levels of satisfaction had fewer heart attacks. The risk goes down for many reasons. In general, happier people engage in more heart-healthy behavior such as getting adequate sleep, not smoking and eating a nutritious diet. Also, while people are happy, their stress hormones decrease, blood pressure lowers, and the heart slows down. So by spending more time happy and relaxed, you protect your heart.

8 Happiness Boosters

For better overall health, kick that cynical, negative attitude to the curb. Here are some steps to feel happier and be more positive.

1. Pet a pet. Whether it’s a dog or cat, petting a furry friend releases feel-good hormones and lowers stress hormones.

2. Make yourself smile. Even when you don’t feel like it, smile. One smile leads to more smiles. And just smiling activates the happiness centers in the brain.

3. Reach out. Hold hands or give a hug. Human touch releases positive hormones, reduces blood pressure and heart rate.

4. Get creative. Creating artwork or writing in a journal to express negative feelings actually makes you happier by distracting you from the negativity.

5. Hang out with positive people. Happiness spreads in social networks.

6. See the light. Skip the news or violent television shows and movies and opt for funny, enlightening and uplifting entertainment instead.

7. Get a fresh air fix. Take time to appreciate the wonder of nature. One study shows interaction with nature reduces depression, promotes healing, sparks creativity and even increases life expectancy. And a Swedish study found people who ran in parks felt 15 percent more restored than those who ran on treadmills or in the city.

8. Nourish from the inside out. Putting the right nutrition into your body helps your mind and body function at its best so happiness can shine through. Eat a healthy diet abundant with fruits, vegetables and whole grains and add Reliv shakes to your day for balanced nutrition rich in stress-reducing, health-promoting ingredients.

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