The Surprising Factor That Impacts Your Health

Filed under: Stress Reduction

Most of us know that a positive attitude affects our personal relationships and mental health, and even helps us get ahead in business. But you might be surprised to learn the full extent of attitude upon your physical health. Evidence suggests that the power of positive thinking extends far beyond what most people believe.

Lowered risk of heart disease. A study from John Hopkins University found that family history of heart disease is only one piece of the puzzle. A history does predispose you to some risks; however study participants with a family history were one-third less likely to suffer a heart attack within 5 to 25 years if they maintained a positive outlook. Even those with the most risk factors for cardiovascular disease (family history plus lifestyle factors) were 13 percent less likely to suffer a coronary event, than their matched peers with a more negative outlook on life.

Longevity. Yale researchers found, through a study of 4,000 participants aged 50 and older, that a positive view of aging led to better health outcomes and even a longer lifespan.

Boost your immune system. Those who are happier often experience fewer colds and flu. Ronald Glaser, director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at the Ohio State University, began studying the link between stress and immunity all the way back in the 1980s. After analyzing blood samples from medical students, his team found that, “during a stressful exam period, they had lower activity from virus-fighting immune cells, and higher levels of antibodies for the common virus Epstein–Barr, suggesting that stress had compromised their immune systems and allowed the normally latent virus to become reactivated.”(Source: Scientific American)

That research opened up an entirely new field, and today the link between stress and lowered immunity is widely recognized in medicine. Of course, managing that stress is the issue we now face. How do you do that?

Judith T. Moskowitz, a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, set out to determine exactly that. In her years of research on patients with HIV, she has found that those who practice at least three of these eight skills, daily, have better health outcomes:

  • Make a point to recognize something positive each day
  • Tell someone about that event, or log it in a journal
  • Use a daily “gratitude journal” (record something for which you feel grateful)
  • Identify a personal strength and how you used it
  • Set a goal, and log your progress
  • Identify minor stress and list ways to reframe the events positively
  • Recognize or practice a small act of kindness
  • Practice mindfulness: Focus on the here and now

These eight “positive practices” have now been used in patients with cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and other chronic illnesses – all with promising results.

Now, our challenge to you is to implement the power of positive thinking earlier in your life, with the goal of warding off illness in the first place! No one lives forever, but our goal is always to help you live better, longer, and happier.




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