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Good Housekeeping
Francesca Zapanta, Contributor
April 07, 2010

Happiness Is Healthy: The Benefits of Having Fun

Summer is time to lighten up and let some fun in your life! Here's why staying happy is good for your health. By Francesca Zapanta
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fun_in_life_article.jpgIn a world as fast-paced and competitive as this one, the modern woman experiences stress and exhaustion every day. Too much stress can be detrimental to your health—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Although it is important to perform well at work and keep up with the demands of life, taking a break and seeing what else life has to offer is important too. Having fun helps maintain a healthy, well-balanced you. FN provides you with seven reasons why.  

The art of zen is the art of being healthy.

When you’re stressed, your immune system weakens, increasing your chances of getting sick. According to this HumanIllness.com article, being in a stressful situation triggers the body’s natural fight-or-flight response, causing physical changes from a rapid heartbeat to an increase in blood pressure. These help us to successfully cope with the situation at hand, but prolonged anxiety overextends the stress response, eventually causing the body harm.

To make sure that your body is in tip-top shape and protected from disease, de-stressing is a must. This blog entry from TheMentalFitnessCenter.com discusses the benefits of reducing stress. If a healthier heart, increased memory and better sleep aren’t enough to sway you, de-stressing also prevents obesity. Not only does your mental health improve but your physical appearance also brightens noticeably. With a nice, healthy glow and a serene demeanor, you’ll be ready to face the day again—and meet new people along the way.

An endorphin boost goes a long way.

When you’re having fun, it’s hard to keep that natural grin off your face—and for good reason. A simple smile can turn a rotten day right side up. According to psychologist Cliff Kuhn, smiling immediately decreases stress levels and improves tolerance for pain—even when the smile you put on is “fake.” Not only do you feel good when you smile, your mental health improves, too.

This article on body language says that the body releases endorphins every time you smile. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that send a message of confidence and satisfaction to the brain. The result? A more cheerful and self-assured you. Smiling is just like eating chocolate. Unlike the latter, though, there’s no need to monitor just how often you smile in a day. The more you smile, the better you’ll look and feel. You’ll make others feel great too, so smile away!

Fun time is bonding time.

If members of your family or your friends have ever complained that you’ve been hiding under a rock, engaging in bonding activities like hanging out, playing group games, or even exercising together provides you with the perfect venue to take care of your health while spending time with your loved ones. This is especially valuable for developing your social skills, so for the workaholics, you can think of it as work away from work. The more important part, however, is getting the opportunity to increase intimacy and maintain your relationships with the people close to your heart. It doesn’t hurt that it makes you feel good too.  

Fun-loving, optimistic people live longer.

According to this article from BBC, a group of American psychologists discovered that positive thinkers live 7.5 years longer than pessimists. According to the study, constant worrying puts a burden on the heart, increasing one’s chances of giving in to the negative effects of stress. Dr. Becca Levy of Yale University says that having an optimistic attitude towards aging is better than having low blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In other words, staying positive works better than laying off the butter and chicken liver!   

Laughter really is the best medicine.

Humor is one of the best solutions to stress. Just like smiling, laughing reduces your level of stress hormones. As explained in this FocusWomensHealth.com article, your mood also gets elevated because of the release of serotonin, a hormone that gives you an all-natural high. According to Dr. Paul McGhee, humor therapy is perfect for reducing stress. Not only does it make you feel good, it also lowers your blood pressure, improves breathing and regulates your heartbeat, successfully countering a prolonged stress response. So stock up on those comedy shows and don’t be afraid to crack lame jokes! It’s for a good cause: your health.

Living your life to the fullest never sounded better.

Having fun provides you with an opportunity for holistic development while helping you manage your stress. Letting stress and work get you down is the equivalent of boxing yourself up in a room and closing all other doors. Getting a hobby or two helps you experience, little by little, everything life has to offer. Try something new and widen your perspective. By becoming well-rounded, you might just find yourself discovering the key to your happiness. Living a life with no regrets and worries improves your quality of life, too.

Your good health is its own reward. 

Working with an end goal in mind encourages you to perform better at work. Instead of thinking of career gain as your prize, though, provide yourself with a fun motivation, instead. Have a job that requires very specific deliverables? Consider promising yourself an out-of-town trip if you reach or exceed your quota for the month. Wouldn’t you get a morale boost and find yourself working harder to justify the reward? This works for short-term goals too, like making it to a deadline today and treating yourself to a nice long bubble bath at home. Your brain eases up on the stress, knowing there’s a reward waiting at the end, so pamper it well. Ultimately, though, the best treat you can give yourself is the gift of good health. And the best way to achieve that? Have more fun, of course!

Wondering if you need more fun in your life? Take this quiz to find out.

(Photo ©iStockphoto.com/Erik Reis)
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  • Bagel Apr 07 2010 @ 09:02am Report Abuse
    in reverse, stress can really pull you down. I think it will help if you will have a pet, it will make you happier. And I think its better to be around people who has positive attitude in life. Happiness is contagious.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Lourdes Espanol Apr 07 2010 @ 09:03am Report Abuse
    I totally agree that being optimistic makes you happier. I feel better when I think positively.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • marchineness09 Apr 07 2010 @ 12:07pm Report Abuse
    To de-stress, sometimes I accompany my nephew at the mall and played with him at a jump and bounce paid playground. I can't help but laugh and bounce around together with other kids. Ha!ha!ha! But I'm glad I'm not the only grown-up there.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Joie Apr 07 2010 @ 12:57pm Report Abuse
    I believe that happiness is a choice. Therefore being healthy can also be a choice
    Last modified A long time ago
  • happyhouse Apr 07 2010 @ 06:55pm Report Abuse
    yes being positive is good for your health!
    Last modified Apr 07 2010 @ 06:54pm
  • zyramae_12 Apr 07 2010 @ 09:28pm Report Abuse
    That's right live your life to the fullest and stay happy.. because if you get stressed of something that will slowdown your immune system and in worst you can develop malignant cells that turns into cancer!
    Last modified A long time ago
  • summer Apr 08 2010 @ 12:59pm Report Abuse
    Wow! Our body releases endorphin when we smile! That's amazing. Thanks FN for this very informative article
    Last modified A long time ago
  • SHIRLEY LIM Apr 08 2010 @ 06:57pm Report Abuse
    Having fun makes you feel rejuvenated.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • january Apr 22 2010 @ 02:50pm Report Abuse
    I believe so that fun-loving, optimistic people live longer because what bounces back would all be positive energy.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • meeeow18 Apr 29 2010 @ 09:59pm Report Abuse
    Parang background ng windows yung picture sa taas. Hehe. And smiling does boost one's health, but I also like chocolate as endorphin boosters. :)
    Last modified A long time ago
  • MOSSJanine22 Jul 05 2011 @ 05:33pm Report Abuse
    Houses and cars are expensive and not everyone is able to buy it. However, loan are created to support people in such cases.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Diana30Parks Jul 16 2011 @ 02:38am Report Abuse
    Don't have cash to buy a car? Worry no more, because it is real to take the mortgage loans to resolve such problems. Hence take a consolidation loan to buy everything you want.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Haney35Laurie Aug 26 2011 @ 04:11am Report Abuse
    Some time ago, I did need to buy a building for my organization but I did not earn enough money and could not purchase something. Thank goodness my sister adviced to try to take the home loans from creditors. So, I acted that and used to be satisfied with my secured loan.
    Last modified A long time ago
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