Happy life, healthy life? Research has suggested that optimism may have many benefits. It could:
↓ lower heart failure risk
↓ reduce heart disease
↓ lower dementia risk
↑ lead to better mobility and health in older age
The ability to react positively, even in negative situations, could also lead to lower rates of depression, protect against stroke, offer better post-surgery recovery, lower blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol, increase immunity against colds and lead to better overall health plus increased life span. Optimism can also improve your coping skills.
Looking on the bright side
“Our minds have a tendency to focus on the potential for threat and bad outcomes,” said Dr. Amy House, a clinical psychologist at Augusta University Behavioral Health and Psychiatry. “Optimism isn’t about denying the painful aspects of a situation. Instead, it’s about counteracting our minds’ tendencies to over-focus on the negative so that our appraisals are balanced.”
Especially when thinking about the future, it’s helpful to make realistic predictions that include the possibility of positive outcomes, instead of making a habit of believing our minds’ “worst-case scenario” predictions.
With some practice, optimism can be learned. Cognitive behavioral techniques can help promote optimism. Or try this technique:
- Think about yourself in the future.
- Imagine that everything has gone as well as it possibly could.
- Think of this as the realization of all your life dreams.
- Then, write about what you imagined.
Relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga, can also help you keep your thinking balanced and your body and mind primed for all the good things coming your way.
Take care of your mental health
Ongoing anxiety and depression are serious mental health disorders that can have negative impacts on a person’s physical health as well. Cognitive behavioral techniques, exercise, and lifestyle changes can contribute to good mental health but if you’re still struggling seek help from a medical professional.