The phrase ‘laughter is the best medicine’ is no mere cliché. Studies on disorders ranging from flu to cancer reveal that there is an undeniable link between your outlook and the strength of your immune system. One possible explanation is that stress affects your body’s hormonal balance (particularly cortisol levels). Here are some of the latest research on the link between health and happiness.
A journal entry a day keeps the doctor away
One interesting research that was printed in Psychosomatic Medicine revealed that people suffering from HIV who regularly kept a journal for at least half an hour a day had higher levels of T cells (which fight infection). A separate study confirmed a similar phenomenon among cancer patients: women who were part of support groups and shared their experiences tended to have less doctors’ visits.
Apparently the habit of writing a journal had helped the patients release negative emotions and find perspective and peace.
Meditation boosts the benefits of vaccine
One study showed that a meditative exercise like tai chi helped boost the effects of a vaccine. In this study, scientists observed participants in a Health Program. Half of the participants took tai chi and the other attended lectures. Those who took tai chi showed a higher level of immunity for the disease they were vaccinated for.
Depression worsens diabetes
Being sick obviously makes us feel sad—especially if we are facing a chronic condition that has significantly affected our quality of life. One study by the University of Nottingham has found that these feelings can interfere with our body’s ability to heal. For example, diabetics who had fallen into depression took much longer to recover from foot ulcerts, a common complication.
That’s why, if you are facing a chronic or very difficult illness, it’s crucial to find a support group. Many hospitals organize these for cancer patients, etc. You can also go to the web, or form a support group yourself.
Friends help fight the common cold
A study by social networks guru and psychology professor Sheldon Cohen discovered that people who had very few friends (or whose friends were from just one group) were over 4 times more vulnerable to catching a cold. Dr. Cohen believes the correlation has to do with the effect of stress on the immune system, and how friends are one of the best ways to help relieve stress.
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