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The Power of Optimism: Stay Positive for Your Health

Updated on March 28, 2019
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Fredda Branyon has dedicated her life to the advancement of complementary medicine.

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Did you know being a positive or negative person can influence your health? According to a 2010 study published in the Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health, choosing to be either an optimist or pessimist may significantly impact your mental and physical well-being


Positive Thoughts and Your Health

Positive thinking is a simple yet powerful state of mind that may attract the following:

1. Improved Immune System

Psychological studies show that staying positive can help sick people recover faster from certain illnesses. They also have fewer symptoms compared to men, women, and children who are pessimistic or have a more negative viewpoint. Not only is the immune system improved, but physical and mental healing after experiencing trauma, including fractures and surgical procedures, are at an accelerated rate than usual.


2. Thwarts Stress and High Blood Pressure

Do you think your glass is half-empty or half-full? Choosing the latter symbolizes positive thinking, which plays a significant role in stress management and improving one's health.

Stress is an underlying cause of hypertension through constant blood pressure elevations. The overwhelming build-up of emotion can become an irrelevant factor in your life if you choose to be more optimistic, making high blood pressure and stress-induced diseases become less prevalent (if not eliminated entirely). Optimism, in this case, is not just a state of mind because it may save your life.


3. Increased Pain Tolerance

If you place your hand over burning fire, your nerves will call out to your brain for help. Your brain will send the message that your hand is hurting, allowing you to pull away from the cause of pain. In other less self-inflicted situations, you might not have a choice other than to tolerate the uncomfortable feeling. For example, if you try lifting weights for the first time, your sore muscles may barely be able to move the following morning. But with a positive mindset, you can train your brain to focus on something else, instead of counting every second in pain.


Negative Thoughts and Your Health

It is safe to say that dwelling in negative thoughts will have the exact opposite effect as when you remain optimistic.

Pessimism influences your brain in many ways, according to Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher from the University of North Carolina. For one, negative thoughts encourage very specific actions, which often include fear or another instinct. Although fear can be helpful when trying to protect yourself and your loved ones, it can also cripple you and prevent you from living your life to the fullest. Other actions that usually follow negative emotions would be anger and stress, both of which produce a surge of hormones that increase your high blood pressure and damage the immune system.


Takeaway

If more people were aware of the astounding benefits of optimism, can you imagine the kind of world we could live in? — A world less plagued and in pain. In the words of the late Michael Jackson, "if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that change." You have nothing to lose, only gain.



© 2019 Fredda Branyon

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