Happiness Report: Incomes Rise, Health Falls

Travel nursing will give you a chance to meet, understand and care for, patients all over the country. You will have a chance to become an even more compassionate practitioner. You will also be able to share your knowledge wherever you go.

Health is More than Just Living, It is Living Well

The annual World Happiness report was recently released by the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. According the Report, the long-term rise in US income per person has been accompanied by several worrisome trends: worsening health conditions for much of the population and declining social trust.

Several contributors to the report attribute this trend in part to our deepening dependence on addictive devices and technologies, like smartphones, computers, video game consoles -- as well as the associated social media, texting, and video watching that go along with them.

Although the term "addiction" has typically been applied to the use of substances like tobacco, alcohol and opioids, recently medical professionals have come to apply the term to behaviors like gambling, social media use, and shopping. Perhaps one of the most serious (and by some measures "traditional") increases in addiction is the opioid crisis currently devastating vast areas of the country. Although there is no consensus on the definition and diagnosis of addiction in the US, many statistics show that compulsive behaviors here are on the rise, in part because of the instant access to addictive substances and behaviors. Want to buy something? Click a button. Want to play poker? Here you go. Want to spend hours evaluating what and how your 'friends' are doing? We got you.

The World Happiness Study highlights increases in anxiety that are driven by growing income inequality. Some individuals may self-medicate their anxiety with substances -- or with technology that provides short term positive feedback. In many cases these temporary fixes have been crafted explicitly to satisfy our compulsive tendencies.

Sadly, excessive screen time correlates with poor sleep, high blood pressure, obesity and insulin resistance among other health risks.

Without a doubt, modern technology can have powerful positive effects, such as sharing essential information in real time, exposing us to new ideas, connecting us to people who we otherwise would never have a chance to meet. However, tech devices also have increased our sedentary time and our inability to interact with others in person.

Factors considered in the study's happiness ratings are:

  • GDP Per capita (purchasing power)
  • Social support (family and friends)
  • Healthy life expectancy at birth
  • Freedom to make life choices
  • Generosity (personal donations)
  • Perceptions of corruption (government or business corruption)
  • Positive affect (happiness, laughter, enjoyment)
  • Negative affect (worry, sadness, anger)

In 2019, Finland came out on top; the US was in 19th place.

Nurses are of course involved in the diagnosis and treatment of the many conditions associated with these negative trends, such as depression, addiction and health-risks such as obesity and heart disease.

If we look at the big picture, one of the things nurses can do is push for increased access to healthcare, especially for those without financial resources. We can also advocate for adequate social safety nets. In every arena, a nurse's mission is to reduce anxiety, increase health, and model the behaviors that help us connect with others in the real world.

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health and wellness