We all know that giving back is good for the world around us. Last year we did a blog post recounting the health benefits we all get from volunteering and gave some great volunteering opportunities around Charleston and Mount Pleasant (to see that article click HERE). According to CreatingtheGood.com, “From lowering stress to boosting self-confidence, volunteering offers many health benefits—especially for older adults.” And The Cleveland Clinic agrees and explains that volunteering leads to benefits like lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, less depression, lower stress levels, longer life and greater happiness. In essence, volunteering can make you happy.
This year, in the spirit of the holidays, we thought it would be fun to go beyond just volunteering and explore how HAPPY PEOPLE ARE HEALTHIER.
PEOPLE WITH PURPOSE ARE HAPPY
The relationship between volunteering and happiness makes sense. Giving back helps people find higher meaning in life. Forbes explains: “A new study from Northwestern…finds that people who have a purpose in life have an unwitting benefit: They sleep better at night…having a purpose in life is also linked to having a longer life, according to a large study in The Lancet a few years ago…”
WHY ARE HAPPY PEOPLE HEALTHY?
According to The Harvard School of Health, we begin to understand this phenomenon by looking at its opposite: “A vast scientific literature has detailed how negative emotions harm the body. Serious, sustained stress or fear can alter biological systems in a way that, over time, adds up to “wear and tear” and, eventually, illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Chronic anger and anxiety can disrupt cardiac function by changing the heart’s electrical stability, hastening atherosclerosis, and increasing systemic inflammation.”
So we get it. Unhappy people are less healthy for a host of reasons. But on the flip-side, Science Daily states: “People who report positive emotions are less likely to catch colds and also less likely to report symptoms when they do get sick. This held true regardless of their levels of optimism, extraversion, purpose and self-esteem, and of their age, race, gender, education, body mass or pre-study immunity to the virus.”
Science is not exactly sure WHY happier people are healthier, but The Daily Mail explains: “Researchers from the universities of Utah and Virginia analyzed numerous studies that investigated a link between happiness and health. Results revealed that in 65 percent of the studies, a sunny disposition is related to improved health and wellbeing. It may be that happier people are more inclined to live a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly, eating well and not smoking, according to the researchers.” So in a nutshell, happy people tend to make healthier decisions.
SO COME ON GET HAPPY!
What do we need to do to be happy? Here are some expert recommendations:
Eat well and Sleep Well!
Real Simple keeps it just that…SIMPLE! The best way to treat yourself is by TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF: “start with the basics, like going to sleep at a decent hour and not letting [your]self get too hungry. Science backs this up; these two factors have a big impact on happiness.”
Remember to Breathe
The Daily Burn explains, “No matter what kind of foul state you’re in, connecting with your breath is one of the easiest ways to come back to the present moment and feel better — fast.”
Make the Choice
WebMD reminds us that we have more control over our emotions than we often give ourselves credit for: “You can choose to be happy…How? In part, by simply making the effort to monitor the workings of your mind. [M]ake a conscious choice to boost your happiness.”
DUFFNATICS, this is a obviously our favorite tip! Self Magazine speaks our fitness language: “Research has found that a mere 20-minute workout can produce more subtle mood benefits that last as long as 12 hours!” So get to the gym and get your heart rate pumping!
Finishing where we started, there is no better way to boost your mood than to help others!