Catch the wave of ‘happiness and health’ working its way around the stadium of healthcare. Point in fact: check out the Harvard School of Public Health website and what research is saying about how a heart attack and emotions are more closely related than you might think.
It’s probably not a stretch to consider what happens when you are angry or under negative stress. You may have experienced a ‘knot in your stomach’ when asked to speak in front of an audience, ‘saw red’ when someone really upset you, or ended your stressful day with a pounding headache, only to find you are in for a sleepless night.
Stress causes the release of hormones that cause changes in physiology and those changes impact your risk of developing problems like heart disease and diabetes. Stress causes changes like:
- A rise in blood pressure
- A slowing of digestion (fight or flight response)
- Immune system compromise
- Memory problems
You are probably not surprised to hear that negative emotions can harm the body, but research is now also looking at how positive emotional health can result in a healthier population. As a result of the recent emphasis on prevention and wellness that has emerged from the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, research is looking to see if happier people live longer and, if so, why? Here are some thoughts pulled directly from the Harvard website:
“Keys to a happier, healthier life
Research suggests that certain personal attributes—whether inborn or shaped by positive life circumstances—help some people avoid or healthfully manage diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and depression. These include:
- Emotional vitality: a sense of enthusiasm, hopefulness and engagement
- Optimism: the perspective that good things will happen, and that one’s actions account for the good things that occur in life
- Supportive networks of family and friends
- Being good at “self-regulation,” i.e. bouncing back from stressful challenges and knowing that things will eventually look up again; choosing healthy behaviors such as physical activity and eating well; and avoiding risky behaviors such as unsafe sex, drinking alcohol to excess, and regular overeating”
Engagement, optimism, supportive networks, and good lifestyle choices are all positive attributes for healthier lives. Imagine using our new social networks and collaboration capabilities to spread and amplify these positive personal attributes:
- Collaborative video to engage over larger distances with bigger populations
- Actionable optimism which virtually unites a community in their efforts to move forward with local programs
- Video networks to support healthcare best practices, community wellbeing, the feeling of family
- Educational live video interaction to support best lifestyle choices and engagement
Collaborative video is moving in to support happier, healthier patients whether in the form of: telemedicine , telehealth , care coordination, or support for a patient centered medical home.
For example, this photo (at right) is a snapshot taken from a video recording of a multipoint call where I’m educating others on stroke risk factors, and how to use the FAST model to support faster stroke recognition and therapy.And, at the South Carolina Department of Mental Health psychiatrists and mental health providers are able to collaborate with patients to reduce the length of time a patient stays in the hospital, and support better patient outcomes. Another exciting example is how Open Door Community Health Centers has shown that using video to educate diabetics has helped to reduce their A1C numbers, and associated risk of complications of diabetes.
In addition circling back to Maslow’s hierarchy from my previous blog, collaborative video helps address the fundamental needs of belonging and recognition to create happier, engaged, optimistic supportive networks of people for better health and longer lives.
Looking forward to your comments. Together lets continue investigating ways to get happier and healthier.
Be well, Be happy!
To learn more about happiness, read my previous blog entry.