We know there is a profound mind-body connection. In fact I talked in detail about that in this earlier post. When we have an argument, feel anxious or stressed or are under prolonged emotional distress, can it really affect our physical health and well-being that much?
Every thought we think releases chemicals into our bodies. Positive thoughts release healing chemicals and negative ones release damaging, destructive ones. “Happiness” is very subjective. Different things make each of us feel happiness but that doesn’t mean it is not important. For our purposes let’s consider happiness to be feelings of well-being and inner joy. Research shows happy people live longer than unhappy ones.
Did you know that a half-hour argument with your spouse or significant other can slow your body’s ability to heal by at least a day and in couples who regularly argue, that healing time is doubled again due to a surge in inflammation-triggering molecules. We know that being chronically stressed releases cortisol and breaks down our bodies. This would include feelings of jealousy, anger, fear and loneliness. In fact one study indicates that loneliness can impact the body’s ability to repair DNA and accelerates cellular aging.
Some of us (I have been guilty of this) hold our feelings of irritation or upset inside. Of course this isn’t a good thing to do. Suppressing anger as well as explosive outbursts are both destructive. Bursting into tears or just having a good cry, on the other hand is definitely therapeutic.
Well how can happiness or well-being change this? Here are 6 things we can do to increase our feelings of well-being and joy, which will directly influence not only our quality of life, but the quantity as well.
1.Laughter is not only contagious, it boosts the immune system, reduces stress and definitely increases feelings of joy and well-being.
2.Love is an easily overlooked tool for anti-aging and health. This includes and actually begins with self-love or self-acceptance. Scripture tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves – meaning you must love yourself in a balanced way before you can love or accept anyone else. Expressing love with physical expressions of affection like a hug or even petting and cuddling your pet, causes your body to release oxytocin, a natural stress relieving hormone.
This is easier for some people than others. My dad was not a physically affectionate person but as he got older I took every opportunity to rub his back or arm and of course give him a hug and kiss. He was awkward about it and yet I knew it was healing for him and as much as he protested, he always waited for that hug and kiss when he was coming in or leaving.
3.Gratitude is one of the most powerful, health-boosting emotions. Perhaps it’s why we are told to give thanks in all things. Intentionally being thankful for our blessings boosts immunity, lowers blood pressure and increases healing potential all through the body.
4.Using our imaginations and visualizing in a healthy, positive way can improve health because the mind cannot differentiate between an imagined state and a real “external” one. So, if you vividly imagine a positive state, you may experience the benefits as if they are real. You have nothing to lose, so why not?
5.EFT, Emotional Freedom Techniques, also known as tapping is a great tool especially when you are in the midst of an anxious, fearful, angry or other state of upset. I use it often, sometimes daily, and find it is a game-changer.
6.Exercise is an effective stress reducer and especially being out in nature is very calming and uplifting. Try taking a walk with your spouse or significant other and just enjoy the sights, sounds and smells. See if it doesn’t improve your mood and relationship.
Our relationships, and how happy we are in them, have a powerful influence on our health. While it is very important to take care of our physical health, tending to our relationships and emotional health is a critical piece of self-care that’s often overlooked.
What are your favorite forms of self-care?
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