Alleviate Stress in 2017 with a Happier and Healthier Mindset
January 31, 2017
Ross Taylor, MD, DRMC Chief Medical Officer (CMO)
With the New Year well underway, people everywhere are working to maintain their resolutions – to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, spend more time with family and friends, etc. These resolutions are the foundations for what will make you happier and healthier in 2017.
Researchers have found that happiness can have a positive impact on your health including increased longevity, decreased risk of heart disease, boosted immunity and lessened chance of depression. In addition, happy people can cope with and more quickly recover from stressful situations.
Studies also show that happy people produce lower levels of cortisol – the chemical associated with anxiety and stress that can be linked to a variety of illnesses including obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
We want people in the Dan River Region to be healthier in 2017. Having a positive attitude can have a major impact on your physical and mental wellbeing. By eating right, exercising, getting regular checkups, or making other positive changes – you can alleviate stress and become a happier and healthier person.
Below are 10 lifestyle strategies that can help you reduce stress and brighten your outlook on life:
• Appreciate life’s simple pleasures. People who appreciate the little things, like an evening sunset or a friendly pet, are more likely to find joy in all aspects of life.
• Make exercise a priority. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins – a chemical that amplifies feelings of happiness and relaxation.
• Eat well. What you eat directly impacts your mood and energy levels. To maximize the benefits, you should eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day.
• Spend time outside. Regular and safe exposure to the sun helps energize your body by producing vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to depression.
• Get enough sleep. People who get the right amount of sleep are more productive, happier and have more self-esteem.
• Form long-term relationships. Humans are social beings and relationships are fundamental to our happiness. Confiding in and listening to a trustworthy, long-term friend can help improve your physical health and lessen your risk of depression.
• Perform small acts of kindness. Doing something good for others not only benefits those you help, but you reap benefits as well. It feels good – and triggers the reward center in your brain – when you help someone else.
• Be optimistic. Having a positive outlook on life has a variety of health benefits, including an overall sense of gladness and a higher tolerance for pain.
• Break bad habits. Everyone has a bad habit – whether it’s smoking, or the tendency to procrastinate. By exerting self-control and breaking these habits, you will become a happier and healthier person.
• Take preventive health seriously. A doctor isn’t someone to see only when you’re sick. Doctors also provide services that help keep you healthy. By getting regular checkups, shots and screenings, you can ensure that you’re on the right track to living a long, healthy life.
By embracing these strategies, 2017 can be a less stressful, happier and healthier year. Be sure to visit your primary care physician for regular health screenings and check for stress-related illnesses including depression, diabetes and high blood pressure, among others.