A strong heart, a healthy diet, and a daily walk or jog are some of the fundamentals of a long, healthy life. But there is yet another aspect you could be overlooking – your mood.
Happiness, sadness, anger, and joy are just some of the many emotions we may experience. We may not pay that much attention to our mood and emotions, but we should, as they play a pivotal role in our longevity. In fact, numerous studies point to the fact that being unhappy can actually kill us.
Unhappiness leads to early mortality
For years, researchers and doctors have been aware of the negative impact that emotions such as stress, rage, hostility, grief, and anger can have on the body. These emotions are even dubbed “cardio toxic”, meaning they are harmful for the heart. When we are in a bad mood, chemicals are released in our body, raising our blood pressure, heart rate, and the levels of stress hormone cortisol. All of these factors increase your risk of a heart attack.
When we are chronically stressed, our body gets flooded with cortisol, so our nervous system goes into overdrive. Over time, this changes the physiology of the heart, which can literally trigger death by a broken heart – or, scientifically speaking, stress-induced cardiomyopathy.
Even low levels of chronic stress can inhibit your heart’s ability to function properly. In fact, in one study, the researchers found that those who suffered from chronic low stress had the same risk of experiencing a heart attack compared to those who smoked cigarettes. Furthermore, those with chronic stress actually had a higher risk of experiencing a heart attack, as those with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Happiness extends your life
If stress and anger can shorten your life, then being happy and optimistic can extend it. Studies have found that positive outlook on life not only keeps you healthier overall, but it can prevent heart disease, too.
In a study involving over 100,000 women, the researchers found that optimistic participants were less likely to develop heart disease or die prematurely, compared to their pessimistic counterparts.
Other studies have shown similar results, and there’s some evidence suggesting that those who are happier tend to partake in a healthier lifestyle, too.
Tips to promote happiness
If you want to know how you can turn that frown upside down, here are some tips you can try to switch your mindset and lower your risk of heart disease.
- Be grateful for every day and count your blessings
- Don’t focus on what’s going wrong in your life, but rather focus on what’s going right
- Find useful ways to reduce stress
- Eat well
- Get at least 10 minutes of sun daily
- Avoid binge-watching TV, especially the tragic news stories
- Be creative
- Enjoy nature
- Volunteer your time
- Listen more, talk less
- Surround yourself with positive people
I’m sure you can find 100 other ways to stay positive and be happy. Whatever it is, go ahead and focus on happiness, and your heart will thank you.