The Surprising Thing That Can Benefit Your Health
Filed under: Stress Reduction
We’re all bombarded, on a daily basis, with messages about improving our health. Eat your veggies! Drink more water! Avoid soft drinks and sugar! Exercise daily! Try this supplement, try oil pulling, check out what activated charcoal can do… On and on it goes. And that’s not to say that these things are bad advice; they all have their roots in some truth (or are backed up by scientific studies).
But one idea that is seldom mentioned, yet is gaining more traction recently, might do you as much good as anything you could purchase or eat. And it’s surprisingly simple… and free.
Researchers have found that a positive outlook can boost your immune system and even help you better manage the symptoms of disease. Various studies have uncovered a link between a “positive outlook” and improvement of symptoms such as high blood pressure, weight control, blood sugar levels, and even heart disease.
And, while anecdotal accounts cannot provide concrete proof, stories abound of cancer survivors who credit their positive mindset for years of remission.
Developing a more positive mindset sounds like a vague goal, but we know of very specific ways to get there:
- Keep a journal, in which you record one positive thing about each day
- Practice identifying things for which you’re grateful (at least once per day)
- Practice a daily act of kindness
- When facing a stressful moment, brainstorm ways to respond to it positively
- Focus on right now, rather than the future
- Note your strengths, and how you use them
Researchers have experimented with teaching these skills to patients with HIV, breast cancer, and diabetes. In all three situations, participants reported improvement of symptoms, and lowered depression and anxiety. The HIV patients even lived longer, on average, than those who did not complete the positive mindset training.
How does this work? Do happy feelings literally stimulate the immune system? Or do positive feelings about oneself simply motivate the patient to practice better self-care in a physical sense? No one knows for sure. We just know that it works.