Mood plays little role in your health.
Our minds and bodies are linked in ways we’re still discovering. But one thing is clear — the way we feel has a profound impact on our health and vice versa. For instance, certain foods can boost your mood, while others can bring you down.
The Nitty Gritty
It’s not a coincidence that when you’re feeling down in the dumps or overworked at the office, your health seems to take a toll. And while science can’t always explain the why, there’s enough evidence to support the fact that when you’re not in the right head space, your body pays the price. Check out the three most common culprits.
Reason 1: Constant stress wreaks havoc on your body.
Stress isn’t just harmful for your mind. It has very real physical repercussions as well. Being stressed over an upcoming exam or a big presentation at work is normal. But suffering from chronic stress, or an extreme amount of stress over long periods of time, can lead to a range of health problems. (1)
When your mind is constantly stressed, it affects the body’s ability to regulate inflammation, which is the root of many diseases. That’s because too much stress hampers the ability of cortisol, a hormone that regulates inflammation. Researchers believe that prolonged stress decreases tissue sensitivity to cortisol, reducing the hormone’s effectiveness in regulating inflammatory responses: (2)
“When under stress, cells of the immune system are unable to respond to hormonal control, and consequently, produce levels of inflammation that promote disease. Because inflammation plays a role in many diseases such as cardiovascular, asthma and autoimmune disorders, this [study] suggests why stress impacts them as well.”
Reason 2: A bad outlook can weaken your immune system.
Is the glass always half empty in your life? That attitude might be affecting your immune system. One study found that when participants felt optimistic, they had a stronger immune response. Likewise, when they were feeling more negative and pessimistic, their immune response was slower. (4)
Another study out of the University of Kentucky found that while researchers couldn’t determine exactly what it is about optimism, “it is clear that to the question of whether optimism is good or bad for immunity: The answer is ‘yes.’” (5)
A sunny disposition has also been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and improve people’s overall health, helping them feel better, live longer and build stronger relationships. That last one is especially important as scientists learn more about the correlation between loneliness and disease. (6)
Reason 3: Lack of sleep does more than make you cranky.
Not getting enough sleep doesn’t just mean you’re irritable and more likely to chug a few cups of coffee throughout the day. Because your body uses its rest time to recover and repair, reducing your sleeping hours by just two or three hours makes you more susceptible to a whole host of health problems.
Not getting enough sleep has been found to slow down weight loss and even increase your risk of cancer. Even getting six to seven hours of sleep instead of the eight that’s recommended has been linked to heart disease and a more vulnerable immune system. (7)
The Fix: Improve Your Mood to Improve Your Health
That that we’ve established that it is, in fact, a myth that mood plays little role in your health, it’s time to make sure you’re in the proper mood. Improving your mood is easier said than done, but there are some easy ways to lift your spirits. Your mind — and body — will thank you.
There will always be stressors in life. What’s important is how you deal with them. From scheduling relaxation time to learning how to say no, these simple 16 ways to reduce stress will have you feeling zen in no time. For a double whammy, pair them with one of these seven essential oils for anxiety.
2. Add More Positivity to Your Life
Did you know that you can actually train yourself to be more positive? Practicing gratitude, choosing to smile, spending time with uplifting people instead of Debbie Downers and lending a hand to others will help you shift your attitude before you know it. (8)
3. Get Enough Exercise
Not only will getting enough exercise tire you out, making it easier to fall asleep, but it also boosts endorphins and makes you feel happier. Pick your favorite workout, whether it’s going for a long walk with the dog, hitting a spin class or practicing yoga, and start feeling better today.
4. Sleep More
It’s not laziness — it’s science. The more hours of quality sleep you get, the better you’ll feel. Set an alarm about an hour and a half before your bedtime as a reminder to start winding down. That means avoiding screen time, taking a hot shower and settling into bed. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, these 20 ways to fall asleep fast just might do the trick.