Healthy Monday: Positive Emotions affect our Health & Immune System – a Reason to stay Happy & Healthy!
“Healthy Monday is our way of kicking off the week with useful health tips, information or news put together by our team of Health Consultants.”
As we count down to Valentine’s day, a day set aside worldwide to celebrate love, we bring up one more reason why positive emotions such as love, joy, happiness etc., should always emanate from you because it actually makes you a healthier person!
The powerful connection between emotions and how it impacts our physical bodies and health has been talked about over and over in the past. It’s no longer a secret also that our emotions have a way of impacting our immune systems, which scientists continue to attempt to prove through various studies. Scientists have been able to show that negative feelings caused by worry, stress, sadness, etc. cause a spike in the “cortisol” hormone, which in turn suppresses the immune system, thereby making the body unable to naturally fight diseases and infections. Good feelings, on the other hand also has an healing effect on the body, as studies have also shown that a person’s mindset can influence not only his/her immunity but the rate at which that body recovers and gets healed from illnesses.
Martin Seligman, a prominent expert in the field of positive psychology said about the powerful link between emotional outlook and physical health a while ago: “I didn’t believe in it when I started out 40 years ago,” ….. “But the data has grown year after year, and it’s become a scientific certainty.” We all know that an individual who desires to live a healthy lifestyle must maintain a healthy diet, and stay physically active. But now, we are introducing a third component, which is maintaining a positive, outlook and optimistic perspective in life as a key to staying healthy and boosting your immune system!
Some of the tips that can then help you with stay positive and healthy are provided below:
Express Yourself – Don’t Hold Back!
We’ve heard it several times that one way of letting off worry is through expression, which may be verbal or otherwise. However, studies have also shown that when you write about what’s bugging you down, a resultant effect was noted in the health status of the patients observed. For example, a study published in the Psychosomatic Medicine reported that HIV patients who documented what they were worrying about by writing it out in a 30 minutes per day/four days in a row time frame, experienced a decrease in their viral load and increase in the T cell that fight the infection. Also, another study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, found that breast cancer patients who discussed their feelings about cancer by regularly speaking to others , ended up scheduling fewer doctors’ visits for problems related to cancer.
Leverage on the Support System provided by Family Members and Friends:
A Carnegie Mellon University psychology professor, Sheldon Cohen, PhD is regarded as an expert on the link between social networks and health and in one of his studies, Cohen exposed 276 adults to the common cold virus. According to the result of the study, the smokers were noted to be three times more likely to get sick. But according to Cohen, the participants who had a minimal variety of social relationships did even worse, and were noted to be 4.2 times more likely to catch a cold virus. Cohen then concluded that a reason why people having strong social ties through family and friends are better able to ward off or fight infection may be that the support system provided helps in lowering their stress levels. So, staying connected with friends, family members etc. may actually be another great way of staying positive and healthy!
The benefit of exercise in relieving depression has been widely studied with some of its immediate values attributed to helping with improved self-esteem! But, exercise actually makes you feel good too, however, the key psychological benefit of regular physical activity is that it helps the body to release chemicals called endorphins, which interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins have also been known to aid in triggering a positive feeling in the body. This has sometimes been described as “runner’s high”, which is a positive and energizing outlook on life that often follows a run or workout.
Always look at the brighter side of life!
The result of another study conducted by Cohen whereby he assessed 193 participants to determine their level of positive emotions (e.g. happiness, calmness, and liveliness) and how it impacted their immunity in contracting a cold virus. Based on his results, he found that people had low positive emotions were three times more likely to contract the virus. It was noted that a few high-scoring participants fell ill as well, but reported fewer symptoms than that observed in someone having an average cold or flu.)
The correlation between Tai Chi, a martial art exercise, and its impact on the immune system was also studied at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles ). The study comprised of 61 older adults who took tai chi classes three times a week, and another set of 61 adults who attended health education classes. After four months, both groups received a dose of the shingles vaccine, and it was noted that the group of participants that had tai chi classes achieved twice the level of immunity.
The key take away from a few of the studies showing the relationship between a positive outlook or emotions and being healthy is realizing that the decision to be a more optimistic person actually lies in our hands, and the end result will be a healthier you.
Have a healthy week!