This Year, Think Yourself Healthier

This Year, Think Yourself Healthier

I have an idea for the coming year. Before fulfilling the rest of your resolutions, you might want to try this: Think positively!

There is always a lot of talk about the power of positive thinking. Is there any basis to it? Research suggests that there is.

A recent study done in England followed 166 senior citizens for six years to see how attitude affected their health. The researchers administered a questionnaire to see how people approached health problems. They also took saliva and blood tests that measured cortisol levels and C-reactive protein, markers for stress and inflammation.

Over the years, people who looked at their health problems in a more positive light had lower cortisol and C-reactive protein levels. The positive thinkers handled stress better and had less inflammation than their more pessimistic counterparts.

Another study done at Yale followed 598 people who were at least 70 years of age (and initially without disability) for 11 years. As some became ill or disabled, those with a positive attitude were 44 percent more likely to fully recover than those with a negative attitude.

In addition, a review of 84 studies found a strong relationship between optimism and physical outcomes. Regardless of the severity of disease, the effect held. This included cancer outcomes, heart disease, pregnancy outcomes and immune strength.

Cultivate positive thinking
There are some people who look at the glass as half empty others who see it as half full. And then there is another group that sees it as always totally full (with liquid and air). How can you become the latter? Here are five ways to start.

  1. Hang out with positive people. Negativity can be contagious and conversely, so can positivity.
  2. In a stressful situation, try to find the silver lining. As an example, if you get lost driving with your husband because he refuses to ask for directions, start paying attention to where you are and enjoy the different scenery.
  3. Give positive feedback to those around you. There is always something positive you can say even when it might be tough. In the above scenario you can thank your husband for driving safely.
  4. Give positive feedback to yourself. We are often harder on ourselves than anyone else. Cut yourself some slack. As an example, you can be proud of yourself for not losing your temper with your husband who is getting you hopelessly lost!
  5. Keep a gratitude journal. If you can find several things a day to be grateful for, your attitude will change and you will find that you feel better physically.

It is important to your emotional and physical well-being that you find a way to be optimistic. It is all in how you look at things. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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