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Research Says Sadness Can Make You Sick, Happiness Can Keep You Healthy

Many of us have experienced being ill at the most inconvenient times. Just last week you were walking on air, you had everything together at work, and you had enough time that you could have afforded and illness. This week you’re stressed to the max, you’ve got big projects due, you’re so busy that you’ve been making mistakes left and right, and now you’re coming down with sniffles? As it turns out, how you’re feeling may play an interesting role in how you’re feeling. Research has indicated that feeling negative or down regularly can be a detriment to your immune system (Autoimmunity Reviews). But feeling positive can actually help keep you healthy!

Stress and Low Self-Esteem Can Make You Sick

[caption id="attachment_20334" align="alignright" width="300"]Feeling stressed? That could contribute to making you sick. Feeling stressed? That could contribute to making you sick.[/caption] A study on 217 employees at the same company with similar levels of responsibility in their job found that those who were likely to blame themselves for negative happenings at work had less immunoglobin-A and were more likely to get respiratory infections (Monitor on Psychology). Those who feel stress often and regularly report a higher incidence of illness (California State University). The longer someone goes on feeling stressed, the more likely they are to develop a sickness of some sort. One study suggests that chronic stress affects health because it lowers the body’s ability to deal with inflammation (National Academy of Science). This could explain why someone who leads a chronically stressful lifestyle might be more susceptible to certain diseases.

Happiness Can Keep You Well

[caption id="attachment_20335" align="alignleft" width="209"]Feeling happy? It cold be keeping you well. Feeling happy? It cold be keeping you well.[/caption] Just because sadness makes you sick doesn’t necessarily mean sickness keeps you well. But research, though not as prevalent as that on sadness and sickness, seems to indicated that happiness can help keep you well. In a study where researchers took samples of saliva from 216 men and women in throughout the day and inquired how happy they’d been in the last five minutes. Those who were happier had lower levels of stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with issues like hypertension and type II diabetes. The men also had lower heart rates when they were happy. The researchers controlled for factors such as socio-economic class, age, gender, etc. (New Scientist). Research has also shown that people who say that they’re happy are less likely to come down with an illness after being exposed. More interesting still, they tend to report fewer symptoms than what would normally be associated with their illness (Psych Central).

Bottom Line

Emotions play a big role in how we feel. It’s not just a coincidence that you’re more likely to get sick when you’ve had a prolonged period of stressfulness. Scientists are starting to unlock reasons why people who are feeling down are more likely to get sick. On the bright side, researchers have discovered that happiness can help to keep you from getting sick. Keeping a positive outlook not only makes you less susceptible to colds, it also helps keep your symptoms to a minimum when you do get sick.
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