Protecting Your Heart With Happiness

Seems I've posted quite a number of studies lately that demonstrate beyond a doubt the power positive emotions can have on your physical health and emotional well being. A new study by researchers at University College London has found happiness can also reduce the amount of stress-inducing chemicals in your body too.

In fact, when happier people experience stress, they have lower levels of plasma fibrinogen, a chemical in their bloodstream that indicates the presence of inflammation, thus an indicator of heart health. Or a lack of it depending how on high your levels are.

Scientists tested some 225 men and women (ages 35-55) who were taking part in a major study on the various risk factors for coronary heart disease in three different venues:

  • At work
  • In the laboratory
  • During leisure activities

During those visits in various locales, researchers asked patients if they were happy 33 times during their day. Not surprisingly, patients were most happy during leisure periods than at work. Additionally, their levels of the stress hormone cortisol -- associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and autoimmune disease -- were lower by about a third too. And, sad to say, some patients reported they were never happy and others who only felt that way occasionally.

What scientists found most interesting about this study mirrored my own impression: The association between happiness and biological responses may be separate from the daily stress people feel, which goes in hand-in-hand with my belief that getting rid of stress isn't the key issue because that's virtually impossible to do anyway. What's far more important is teaching your body to better adjust to the stress.

Energy psychology tools like the Emotional Freedom Technique, a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for more than 5,000 years, can help you do just that.

BBC News April 18, 2005

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