How can my mood affect my health?

Feeling down can make you more susceptible to sickness. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University evaluated the temperaments of 300 healthy test subjects and then exposed them to an infectious virus. Those with the lowest happiness quotients were three times more likely to come down with a cold than their more buoyant peers.
Want to avoid that "thing" that's been going around? Your mood may have something to do with it. People who are carefree and calm seem to have extra armor against winter bugs. They get sick less often -- and even if they do pick up a bug, they tend to have fewer symptoms.

Researchers recently asked healthy volunteers to describe their moods and then exposed them to a cold or flu virus. People who described themselves as happy, full of pep, and at ease -- versus depressed, anxious, or hostile -- had fewer symptoms like coughing, achy joints, and sinus pain. The researchers concluded that positive emotions may strongly influence the human immune system.

Everyone wants to be happy, but what makes one person light up may do little to lift another. Step one is figuring out what makes you happy. Try these tips and tricks for boosting your emotional well-being:
  • Do a plate check. Certain foods -- like those rich in healthy omega-3 fats -- can be good for the spirit.
  • Grab your trainers. A simple walk or light workout is a surefire way to elevate your body's natural "happy" chemicals.
  • Phone a friend. There's a reason why social butterflies seem so chipper.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.