Looking On the Bright Side: What Can Optimism Do For Your Health?Author: Julie
When thinking of your health, what are some of the first ideas that come to mind? You may think of dieting, exercising, or even providing your body with the right supplements. To nurture your health, you may have gotten into yoga, picked up a gluten free diet, or even made a conscious effort to drink enough water on a daily basis. But there is something simple, and often overlooked, which you can do to support your health: maintaining an optimistic outlook!2
Where Can It Be Challenged?You may find yourself, often times, with a perceived barrier between your mental state and your physical health. Stressed from work? Ran into some unexpected bills? Trying to find a way to make everyone’s schedule in the family coincide? In the midst of running into life’s surprises, in combination with balancing all aspects of our individual and family life, our mental state seems to get shoved toward the back-burner of our list of priorities.
Optimism & Your HealthWhen a situation occurs, optimism is choosing to see the positive aspects of that situation. For example, most people tend to look at aging as a negative occurrence. If you were to look at aging in an optimistic fashion, you would be able to note that there is wisdom, grace, and experience encrusted in the process of getting older. Despite stigmas or difficulties, optimism is the ability to maintain a positive perception. In a long term study, a group of individuals 70,021 females’ ages 30-55 years were mailed questionnaires every 2 years for a 28 year time period.
The questionnaires touched upon the topics of health & health behaviors. The last questionnaire these individuals received was a measure of their optimism. This questionnaire was considered a base-line.2 Ultimately, the findings of this study displayed a strong inverse relationship between high levels of optimism, and lower risk of death.2 The lower risks of death referred to causes such as heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and infection.2
More StudiesOther studies have also indicated that there is a relationship between optimism & lower blood pressure.1 In addition, one study examining a group of men revealed that the men who were more pessimistic had a risk twice as high for developing cardiovascular disease in comparison to those who were optimistic.1 Optimism also leads to tendencies of having an influence on lifestyle, which also has a direct relationship to health as well.2
GratitudeOne of the best ways to maintain an optimistic viewpoint is to practice the emotion of gratitude regularly. Try to spend more time consciously focusing on the things that you do have as opposed to what you do not have. When you do this, there is a better ability to be more optimistic toward current and future situations. Gratitude can be applied to situations regarding family, finances, and personal growth!
- Harvard Health Publishing. “Optimism and Your Health – Harvard Health.” Harvard Health Blog, health.harvard.edu/heart-health/optimism-and-your-health.
- Kim, Eric S., et al. Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5209589/.