Is Optimism Good For Your Health?
Apparently, yes! In an article published by the New York Times, Jane E. Brody reviews several long-term studies showing that there is a link between optimism and better health. These studies link greater optimism to a “lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other chronic ailments,” and fostering longevity.
If you or someone you love has cancer, optimism can play an essential role along your journey.
Study Shows Optimism Decreases Disease Mortality
Dr. Alan Rozanski, a New York Cardiologist, and colleagues reviewed 15 studies and published their findings in a 2019 JAMA Network Open. They found people with higher levels of optimism were less likely to die from any cause than those with higher degrees of pessimism. The people with higher optimism were also less likely to have heart attacks or other cardiovascular “events.”
Study Shows Optimism Contributes to Longevity
Lewina O. Lee, an assistant psych professor at Boston University School of Medicine, conducted a study concluding that people with higher levels of optimism live longer than others. She reported, “Among the most optimistic study participants, the women had a 50 percent greater chance and the men a 70 percent greater chance of surviving to age 85.”
How Does Optimism Contribute to Good health?
There has always been a link between positive thinking and good health outcomes. But is there an actual biological connection? Are the psychological benefits relevant? Is this all conjecture?
It seems that there are plenty of reasons to embrace optimism- whether you are fighting a disease like cancer or just trying to live your best life. There are plenty of documented psychological and biological reasons to value optimism.
Consider the following findings:
- Optimists tend to live healthier lifestyles which creates a lower likelihood of disease. Optimists tend to avoid cigarettes, exercise regularly, and adopt healthy eating habits.
- Pessimism causes the body to produce cortisol and norepinephrine all day long. These are stress hormones that can do serious damage to the body. They increase inflammation which contributes to various illnesses like diabetes and possibly cancer.
- Optimism helps people avoid constant fight-or-flight cycles (which can harm the body) when facing challenges. Optimists tend to face obstacles more effectively, reasonably, and creatively because they can envision a positive outcome.
- Optimists are generally less stressed than pessimists because they assume they can overcome challenges and find ways to try.
- Pessimists assume the worst, think there is nothing they can do, and, therefore, often give up. This does not bode well when your body is fighting a disease or illness.
Even a moderate amount of optimism can help people “bounce back” from or accept disappointments and adverse outcomes better than pessimists, leading to more overall satisfaction and appreciation.
To What Degree Are You an Optimist?
According to Dr. Rozanski, optimism is something you can learn over time. He believes that cognitive-behavioral therapy can help build optimism. It can teach people to “unlearn” bad habits like entertaining negative thoughts and developing healthy coping skills. Dr. Rozanski thinks the health benefits of optimism are important enough to try and retrain your mind to think positively.
To get started determining how optimistic or pessimistic you are, the article’s author, Brody, suggests you ask yourself some questions and assess the strength of your responses:
- In uncertain times, do I expect the best?
- Am I always optimistic about my future?
- Overall, do I expect more good things to happen to me than bad?
- How often do I expect things to go my way?
- Do I ever think good things will happen to me?
- Do I assume that if something can go wrong for me, it will?
It is not too late to develop good habits. Remind yourself to think positively so you can reap the health benefits of optimism.
Call Rock the Treatment to Send Healthy Cancer Gift Baskets
You can spread positivity by sending a healthy cancer gift basket to someone you love with cancer. Call Rock the Treatment at 516-690-7009 today and choose from our selection of baskets containing items proven to help ease the physical and emotional side effects of cancer treatments.