Today: May 29, 2024

Happiness and health go hand in hand

Mackenzie Hurlbert – Copy Editor

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. There is truth behind this proverb, and as classes start to kick into third-gear and our agendas become filled with various assignments, practices and meetings, we need to remind ourselves of the importance of having fun. Of course this proverb can also be used as an excuse by any college partier who hopes to justify their excessive drinking, promiscuity, and lack of class attendance; however, happiness in one’s life is still a necessity and not an indulgence.

Let’s do the math. A typical college student probably gets five to seven hours of sleep each night. If the student goes to class, he or she will spend about three to five hours a day in a classroom. Then the student must do homework, let’s say two to three hours-worth at least, and eat, spending collectively around two hours of the day in the dining hall. We must also consider the time the student needs to get ready in the morning, shower, hopefully brush his or her teeth, and walk to class.

Photo Courtesy | jessnruss.com

That doesn’t leave much time for enjoyment, recreation or friends, and if the student’s like me, you’ll spend most of what’s left trying to catch up on the sleep she’s missed. With such a busy schedule, why bother trying to attain happiness when you’ll have that tantalizing, yet unpredictably short, break on the weekend?

Gretchen Rubin, author of the book “The Happiness Project,” explains why having fun is important on her website: “When you don’t have much fun in your life, it’s easy to become preoccupied with the aggravations and frustrations. There’s nothing to distract you from your bad feelings.”

We all have that one thing that makes us happy, no matter our mood or stress levels. Whether it’s a dog back home, a favorite movie, or a boyfriend or girlfriend, make sure you do your best to enjoy what truly makes you happy—as long as it’s legal of course.

“If you have plenty of fun in your life – if you make time to see friends, to learn about things that interest you, to do the things you enjoy, like reading or going to movies or hiking – you have a higher store of patience and tolerance,” said Rubin, whose book on the fulfillment of happiness is a #1 New York Times Bestseller.

If you had a horrible day in class or if you’re stressed out of your mind, grab dinner with one of your friends and vent it out over food and some laughs. Instead of crawling into bed and sulking about it, watch a movie that cheers you up. One thing I do if I need a quick pick-me-up when I’m waiting for class,  is I choose a random animal, like a goat, and google “funny goats.” It may seem childish or silly, but some of those pictures and funny faces send my day in a better  direction!

A ridiculous looking goat may not strike you as an effective mood-lifter, but nonetheless, being happy is just as important as being healthy.

In fact, statistics show that happier people live longer. An article on Science Daily, a research news website, states that, “A review of more than 160 studies of human and animal subjects has found ‘clear and compelling evidence’ that — all else being equal — happy people tend to live longer and experience better health than their unhappy peers.”

This review was published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, and it included multiple studies on how happiness affected human health and mortality. One study which included 5,000 university students lasted forty years, and proved that the students who had more pessimistic or negative outlooks on life tended to die sooner than those who were more optimistic.

Ed Diener, head author of this study and professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Illinois, explained in the article that while some studies showed the opposite effect, the majority of them connected happiness with health and longevity.

Diener said, “Happiness is no magic bullet, but the evidence is clear and compelling that it changes your odds of getting a disease or dying young.”

So what are some things you can do to increase the “happy” within your stressful and time-budgeted life? First off, make sure you take time out of your day to do something you truly enjoy. Whether it’s throwing a Frisbee with a friend or reading a book, spend at least thirty minutes doing something you love.

Second, make sure you get the sleep you need. Sleep deprivation can affect your mental health a ton, so please make sure you get the amount of rest needed. Some quick tips for sleeping easier include not eating right before you head to sleep, drinking decaffeinated tea to relax—chamomile works wonders—and making sure you don’t do homework or study in your bed. This is because if you do, when you’re ready to sleep your mind will associate the environment with work, not rest, and it will be harder for you to fall asleep.

No matter the amount of work, stress, or weight you’ve gained this semester, don’t let the blues affect your mood. As I said earlier, happiness is not an indulgence, it’s a necessity, and you deserve it, so prioritize accordingly.

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