Health and Happiness

As a family physician I give many Wellness talks. These talks cover topics from healthy diet, to exercise, skin care and disease prevention. Over the years one of my favorite seminars has been on stress relief. It has always been my belief that finding happiness and balance in ones life will bring you better health. And finally there is research that proves that happy people live longer. A recent study has shown that individuals that are optimistic and have a greater sense of purpose have a 20% reduction in major illness.

So the next step is how do we make ourselves happy. A 75 year long Harvard study on happiness showed that the key to happiness is love or good relationships. Happiness is doing good for others, doing what you are good at and doing good for yourself- so volunteer , enjoy your work and exercise, eat healthy and avoid alcohol and cigarettes. Each of these things has been shown to increase happiness.

A 2010 study showed that over 10 years for every 1 point increase in positive emotions  (out of 5 point scale) it lowered an individual’s risk of heart disease by 22%.To improve your happiness scores and improve your health try some simple steps:

Sleep more – 8 hours of sleep a night

Exercise- 30 min 5 days a week

Get outside-sunlight  improves mood

Eat more fish- can reduce depression by 17%

Smile- improves response to stress

Invest time in relationships- loneliness increases risk of death by 26%

When we look at studies on anxiety and stress it becomes obvious that a large amount of the stress comes from  how we structure our lives. our schedules are so full there leaves very little time for rest and relaxation. Technology eats up a huge part of our day- television , computer games and social media consume a huge amount of our time and lead to very little happiness. So take an electronic time out for 2 hours a night or for the weekend. Spend time in meaningful conversation, build lasting relationships, embrace nature or exercise and watch your health improve.

Health and Happiness!!