‘Quality of Life
’ is a relatively new idea, but it’s a concept that doctors and psychologists are beginning to emphasis. Modern medicine has given us more years of life, but often these are marred by chronic illness, loneliness and loss of independence. Quality of life
goes beyond physical health
– it takes in psychological and emotional
Everyone knows at least one person who has had bad luck in life or is in poor health, and yet still seems content. What is their secret? Psychologists have studied such people and attribute their vitality to their ability to nurture their own sense of well-being.
These people are passionate about the things they do, whether it be work, relationships or hobbies. They often have a robust sense of humor, and do not take themselves too seriously. Happy people often look younger than their years, and many even be a little eccentric – according to two studies, eccentric people often live longer than average (Paul, 2013
Balancing Your Life
To create a sense of well-being, it is important to live a balanced quality life. For most people, this means a mixture of work, family and friends, personal time and interests, and service to the wider community. Having different roles in life – as a parent, a manager and a church volunteer, say – contributes to a healthy sense of self.
However, it is easy for one role to dominate: if you have a heavy workload, you may find it hard to think of yourself as anything but a worker, while many mothers find that a busy family life makes it difficult for them to be anything other than a parent.
Often, the best way to strengthen your sense of worth and purpose is to help others. Recent research shows that older people who still have an active role in life – as a career, or as a grandparent, for example – tend to outlive those who no longer feel useful.
Related Reading: 5 Steps to a Healthier Life
A study carried out in the USA showed that voluntary work can be very beneficial for health
. Psychologists monitored 2,700 people for nearly ten years. Men who regularly involved in volunteer work had surprisingly 2.5 lower death rates than those who did not (Luoh & Herzog, 2002
). However, there was no difference in rates for women – perhaps because many women already devote much of their time to caring for others.
So, does this mean being self-centered is a bad thing? Not at all – in fact, most people have difficulty finding time for them to be alone and relax. If we put aside half an hour a day to read, pursue hobbies or just day-dream, our general health would probably improve.
Finding time to think and develop a more positive mind-set can also be beneficial. Some people keep busy because they find their minds churn over with worry and negative thoughts when they are not active. It would be better for them to reflect on their achievements, however ordinary they may seem.
Now, let’s see how music and scenery can improve the quality of life and creating the sense of well-being.
1. Creating Well-Being with Music
A growing body of evidence suggests that music
has beneficial effects for health
. In the 19th century, physicians discovered that music could affect heart rate and blood pressure. In the early 20th century, doctors in the USA used music in hospital to help alleviate pain. Various scientific studies followed, and these showed that music could influence mood, prolong attention span, relieve stress and stimulate imagination.
Music is very much a personal taste, but research suggests that the most natural tempo for a piece of music is 80 beats a minute – about the same as the average human heart rate. This suggests that music appeals by tuning in to our natural body rhythms.
INTERESTING FUN FACT
Staring at tropical fish in an aquarium for 20 minutes can lower blood pressure by up to ten percent and produces a state of calm relaxation, increasing the quality of your life!
2. Real Lives: A Healing View
Marie and Sue were neighbors who found themselves in hospital on the same day for a routine operation. They were admitted to the same ward and were glad of each other’s company. Marie’s bed was by the window and she could see a big patch of sky and the trees in a nearby park. Sue’s bed was close to the corridor, furthest from the window.
The operations were uneventful. Both women had plenty of visitors and they received the same medical care. However, Sue needed more pain medication and sleeping tablets after the operation. Marie was out of the bed the following day. ‘I don’t know why you’re doing so much better than I am.’ Sue complained as Marie drew up a chair for a chat. ‘Must be the view from the window,’ Marie joked.
Though she didn’t know it, Marie was right. Studies have shown that patients who have a pleasant view from their hospital ward – of a park, for example, with some trees or flowers – recover faster than those who have a view of something less attractive, like a car park or buildings, or those, like sue, who have no view at all (Huisman, et al., 2012)
. Some hospitals are now creating gardens in their grounds with this in mind.