Being grateful and feeling happy sounds like a pretty easy task. So easy, in fact, that many individuals just assume they are those things, even though their daily habits and thoughts would say otherwise. In today’s world, there are actually a lot of ways to be the opposite happy and grateful. And, unfortunately, many of those things are part of our daily lifestyles, habits that we can’t (or just don’t want to) quit.

Social media, for example, seems fairly harmless, In some cases, individuals will argue that the time they spend scrolling, liking, and commenting actually makes them feel better. But, according to research and data collected, time spent on social media actually lessens our ability to be grateful. And, simultaneously, because it tempts us to socially compare, social media actually decreases our happiness, too.

So, maybe we’re just all a little less grateful and happy. Is it really that big of a deal?

Actually, it is. And for a lot of reasons.

Some of the most interesting pieces of research on gratitude and happiness suggest that being less grateful and less happy actually lowers your overall health, directly impacting things like the strength of your immune system, which is something almost all of us are paying extra close attention to.

Grateful, Happy People Have Stronger Immune Systems

According to several bodies of research, the more grateful you are, the stronger your immune system is. While some of the reasons why this is true are still being researched, scientists do know that the more gratitude you have, the better you feel. And, when you feel better, you tend to forgive more quickly, have more friends, and feel less isolated overall. Gratitude and happiness are positive cycle, one that allows your immune system, among other things, to thrive.

In fact, some research has suggested that an immune system bolstered by gratitude is especially able to fend off things like colds and chest infections. In one study, the least happy people in a group of 300 were the most “likely to develop the common cold compared to their happier counterparts”.

5 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Immune System via Happiness

If being happy can help you boost your immune system, then adding these five practices to your daily routine will help keep you healthy.

  1. Share your gratitude. Being grateful is a great place to start. But expressing your gratitude is even better when it comes to boosting your levels of happiness. Even if you’re not sharing your gratitude out loud with someone else, just the simple act of writing down what you’re grateful for can have the same positive effects.
  • Exercise regularly. If you want to boost your happiness levels, then cardio exercise is one of the best things you can do. Not only do you physically feel good after you increase your heart rate, but you experience a mental elevation, too.
  • Get plenty of sleep. The less sleep you get, the less happy you are. Do your best to get plenty of rest each night so that your body and mind have a chance to reset and recover.
  • Go outside. You can dramatically shift your mood by just going outside and breathing in fresh air. Even just a few minutes outside can be enough to make you feel significantly happier, so don’t pass up any opportunity to step into the great outdoors (even if it’s just right out your own front door).
  • Make time for meditation. Meditation is like a shower for your mind, and it has loads of proven health benefits. In addition to boosting happiness, meditation also lowers stress and helps you sleep at night, which in turn increase your happiness even more!

When you’re in a grateful, happy state, you’re much less prone to fall victim to social comparison, both in real life and online. Gratitude kills envy because you’re happy with where you are right now. The more you can pause and focus your mind on positivity, like relishing each bite you take at lunchtime, the happier, and healthier, you’ll be.