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Charles Sophy, D.O. Headshot

It's Time to Get Your Play On

Posted: Updated:
HAPPINESS
Trinette Reed via Getty Images

You need to play more.

I'm serious. As an adultm you likely never thought you'd hear those words. It's any child's dream, but could it really be a key part of living a physically and emotionally healthy life? It sure is.

Enjoying your life is essential to healthy living. Having an outlet to let go of worry and direct your energy in a positive way is what the P in S.W.E.E.P. is all about (P is for Play!). Happiness is correlated with better health, both in individuals and communities. Happiness can even have a positive effect on your immune system!

So I need you to be happy. It should be the easiest thing in the world, but for far too many of us, it's not. Sadly, we may not even know what makes us healthy. Life can be stressful. We worry about money, our children, what others think of us, our favorite sports teams and innumerable other thoughts that clog our brains.

I'm not asking you to live stress-free, as that's not a reasonable request. I'm simply asking you to constructively direct that stress or excess energy. This could be a form of exercise or a hobby. For those of you who need some help, here are some fun ways to use excess energy. What's important is that you find an enjoyable release for yourself!

As researchers from Harvard have discovered, there is also a connection between happiness and health in our children. Early childhood "toxic stress" -- which can be caused by chronic neglect, exposure to violence or living alone with a parent suffering from severe mental illness -- can have a harmful effect on the brain and other organ systems. One of these effects is a hair-trigger physiological response to stress, which can quicken their heart rate and lead to higher blood pressure, and a jump in stress hormones.

It's not all bad though, as there are benefits to positive mental health that go beyond just avoiding the negative.

Your objective is clear. You need to make sure that you and your family have a positive mental health outlook and personal enjoyment is a major part of that. Find activities you enjoy and find time for them. Jogging, boxing, skiing, swimming, biking, soccer, Frisbee or tag -- whew, I'm getting tired! Whatever it is, it's essential and enjoyable!

So get out there and get healthy getting happy!

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