Researchers have been looking at how people who look on the bright side of things may have better health and live longer lives. Optimists who see the glass as half full, rather than half empty, have been shown to reap the benefits when it comes to things like lower blood pressure, fewer cases of heart disease, better weight control, and even healthier levels of blood sugar. However, staying positive has also been shown to have a positive impact on serious illnesses like cancer and HIV infection.
Judith T. Moskowitz, a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, came up with 8 ‘skills’ to help those suffering a health crisis. These skills all focus on feeling happy, calm, and satisfied despite a health crisis. Patients are encouraged to learn at least three of them and use at least one each day.
The skills are:
■ Recognize a positive event each day.
■ Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.
■ Start a daily gratitude journal.
■ List a personal strength and note how you used it.
■ Set an attainable goal and note your progress.
■ Report a relatively minor stress and list ways to reappraise the event positively.
■ Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily.
■ Practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future.
Positive thoughts have been shown to reduce the anxieties associated with illness, which can lead to genuine results. For example, a study of 49 Type 2 diabetes patients found that positivity led to better blood sugar control, healthier eating, more exercise, and a lower chance of dying!
Staying upbeat has also been shown to have a good effect on the over-50s – leading to a longer life, while the depression and stresses associated with illnesses like HIV and cancer are also lowered by mastering these skills.
If you ask us, trying to stay positive, even in the face of adversity, is certainly worth trying for everyone. After all, less stress and anxiety can only be a good thing. Got to be worth a try, surely?