Research Finds Your Health Greatly Depends on This Emotional Factor
When people talk about improving physical health, they often discuss things like going for a jog and eating more vegetables. However, many wellness experts forget that the mind and body are closely linked. A new study published in the Psychological Science journal reports that it may be possible to boost your physical health simply by improving your happiness. With many people struggling with both physical and mental health right now, this news provides several important tips on how you can boost your own wellbeing.
Study Closely Links Health and Happiness
An interesting study was just released that shows your happiness might actually have a huge impact on your emotional health. Conducted by Georgetown University's Department of Psychology, the study examined 155 adults over a six month period.
Patients were divided into a test group and a control group. The test group were guided through various therapies that helped them learn self-appreciation, emotional balance, and mindfulness. These therapies were carefully planned to give subjects the tools they needed to be happy regardless of circumstances. Meanwhile, all of the subjects' physical health levels were also monitored.
At the end of the study period, subjects reported higher levels of happiness and perceived physical wellbeing. They also end up taking fewer sick days than control subjects, both during and after the program ended. This study is important because it shows a causal relationship between happiness and health. Instead of just showing there might be a vague connection between the two, it shows that improving happiness without changing any other lifestyle circumstances directly boosts your health.
Why Does Happiness Improve Health?
The study mostly focuses on showing that happiness causes health, but the authors did take a little time to consider why this might be happening. There are all sorts of complicated connections between the brain and the body. When the brain is stressed, it produces more cortisol and other stress related hormones. These can increase blood pressure and inflammation throughout the body, harming health.
Furthermore, happiness is often linked to healthier behaviors. When you're in a good mood, you tend to sleep longer and pay more attention to self-care. Those who are happy are less likely to reach for sugary junk food, alcohol, and other harmful substances to make themselves feel better. Basically, happiness might cause you to unconsciously live a healthier lifestyle.
Online And In-Person Therapy Were Equally Effective
An interesting little detail from the study is that they experimented with both in-person and online "happiness interventions." During these sessions, people would either complete online modules by themselves, or they would talk to a trained clinician. The modules focused on things like journaling and guided meditation exercises. At the end of the study, they concluded that both in person and online happiness exercises were equally effective. This is good news for the millions of people stuck inside with COVID-19. The ability to work on your state of mind from home can insure the isolation does not damage your health.
Ways You Can Use This Information to Improve Your Life
Right now, the happiness program used in the study isn't available to the public. However, you can still use the study's findings to improve your life. The study provides plenty of info about their happiness interventions, so you can apply them to your life. Basically, their program started by encouraging individuals to identify their own goals, values, and strengths. Activities like journaling and filling out questionnaires can help you identify and appreciate your core personality.
Next, the happiness study had patients learn mindfulness and emotional regulation. You can try some guided meditation and mindfulness exercises to learn more about recognizing negative thought patterns and feeling more in control of your emotions. Finally, the study's method to happiness had exercises to help patients use their new skills in real life settings. Engaging with your community, expressing gratitude for the positive parts of your life, and working to have more social interactions can all help people integrate these habits into their daily life.
By actively working towards happiness, you can take steps to change your life for the better. As this study shows, being happy makes it easier to care for yourself and improve your health. Though happiness cannot cure everything, it goes a long way towards enhancing your overall wellbeing.
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