6 Incredible Ways Practicing Compassion Boosts Your Health, According to Science
This is the new kind of health nut. No special diet or exercise required, but the health benefits are huge.
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It's no secret that prioritizing your health can be one of the most instrumental and life-altering things you can do to increase your quality of life. You likely already know all the basics--get in 30 minutes of cardio 3-4 times a week, stay away from junk food, sleep for 8 hours a night. Some count calories, some have strict exercise regiments, and others search for new and unheard of ways to have the healthiest lifestyle.
Here's your opportunity to become a new kind of health nut--without thinking about macro-nurients or weight-lifting--by practicing compassion to yield a better general well-being.
1. Recover from disease
Researchers Ed Diner and Martin Seligman, who specialize in positive psychology, suggest that in order to benefit from better mental health, increased physical health, and a faster recovery from disease, we must connect with others in a meaningful way.
2. Buffer from stress
A 2010 study from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology indicates that participants who showed more compassion also showed lower blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of cortisol in comparison to less compassionate counterparts.
3. Increase your lifespan
Research at the University of Michigan and Stony Brook University reveals that a compassionate lifestyle can help you live longer.
4. Feel good about yourself without having to think about yourself
According to these same University of Michigan researchers, volunteers are more likely to benefit from a compassionate lifestyle if their reasons were less self-serving and more altruistic. Do good deeds with the right intent and you'll feel for others and better about yourself.
5. Decrease cellular inflammation levels
Enrich your life with greater meaning and compassionate service and you will find yourself more healthy than the next person whose happiness stems from a hedonistic lifestyle, according to researchers Barbara Frederickson and Steve Cole.
6. Please your brain
From a neurological standpoint, a compassionate lifestyle yields greater psychological health, as the act of giving appears to be as pleasurable as the activity of receiving. It turns out, your brain's pleasure centers are equally as active when you enjoy money and dessert as when you show compassion.
If you're looking to live a more full life with fewer ailments and illnesses, head to the gym and see if you can find an opportunity to show compassion to your fellow exercise junkies while you're there.