In a way, there are two kinds of people – those who look at everything positively and those who are weighed down by negativity. The optimistic lot can lead a better quality of life as such people tend to have healthier habits. Optimists are more likely to engage in exercise, take care of what they eat, and engage in self-care practices.
They are aware of their health and avoid harmful habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol. Optimists sleep well, not too much but not too little. They also have better social lives and more friends. When a trauma or misfortune strikes, such people don’t constantly blame themselves or think about further negative implications.
They look at the positive aspect of the occurrence and move on. Such an attitude can have positive effects on health as well. Optimism can impact your physiological, psychological, and emotional well-being in great ways. Wondering what are its benefits for your health? Here is a list of the health advantages that optimism comes with:
1 – Boosts the immune system
A 2010 study, published in the Psychological Science journal, said that being optimistic strengthens your immune system. When your immunity is enhanced, your health is protected against the attack of infections and diseases. In fact, better immune health equates to better inflammatory response. On the contrary, pessimists have higher inflammation markers.
2 – Reduces stress levels
Optimistic individuals are more protected against psychological stressors. Of course, when you think positive your stress levels go down. You see, in a stressful situation, optimistic people look for solutions. They emphasize on the bright side of things. Optimists also have better coping mechanisms. A 2013 report found that optimistic people have more stable cortisol levels than pessimists.
3 – Lowers risk of anxiety and depression
A research work from 2011 says that optimism can protect teenagers from depression. In fact, optimistic kids are also less likely to engage in substance abuse. Another 2015 study showed that optimism reduces the risk of anxiety and depression. Adding to this evidence, a new study that the Journal of Abnormal Psychology published, found that optimism is tied to lower odds of anxiety and depression.
4 – Betters heart health
A latest JAMA Open Network journal report says that people who are more optimistic have better heart health. On the flip side, pessimism shares a link with higher blood pressure levels and poor metabolic health. Another Journal of Aging Research paper concluded that optimistic behavior lowers the risk of cardiovascular mortality.
5 – Manages blood pressure levels
There are several ways optimism is connected to your blood pressure markers. For instance, optimistic people stress less which prevents blood pressure from elevating. Furthermore, they also tend to eat healthy which means their sodium intake is limited. It is excess sodium basically which leads to hypertension. On the other hand, pessimists have higher blood pressure levels and weaker blood vessels.
6 – Improves pain tolerance
Optimists have better coping mechanisms with regards to both emotional and physical pain. In 2000, a study found that optimism could be a protective factor in painful experiences. After that several researchers looked at the relationship between pain and optimism. A review of studies conducted in 2014, found that optimism is of advantage to experiences involving pain. The review also found that optimism benefits the course of treatment of pain.
7 – Elongates lifespan
Optimistic people are more social, their lifestyle is better, they make conscious health-choices, and they have better immunity. Furthermore, they don’t have the negativity of stress plaguing their psychological well-being. All these and other such factors chip in this benefit of a longer life. A recent study that the National Academy of Sciences journal reported, said that optimistic people have a lower mortality risk. The lead author of the study attributed this merit to their healthier habits.
8 – Maintains cholesterol levels
There are two kinds of cholesterol mainly, the good one called HDL and the harmful one which goes by LDL. People who are optimistic eat healthier which means they are careful about not consuming too many of such foods which can up cholesterol levels. In fact, an American Journal of Cardiology report confirmed that optimism can assist with keeping cholesterol markers down.
9 – Decreases stroke risk
As discussed above, optimistic people have better cardiovascular health. They also have more stable blood pressure levels and their blood vessels are healthier in functionality. All this indicates that optimists have lower risk of suffering through brain attacks. A study that MedScape published also found that a positive outlook on life can decrease the odds of stroke.
How can you become more optimistic?
Optimism is an ingrained trait. Meaning, those who are optimistic are because they have the quality inbuilt. Environmental and genetic factors chip in optimism. While you cannot become optimistic overnight, can you at least develop a more positive outlook? Sure, you can. The benefits of optimism can be accessed by means of cognitive behavioral therapy.
Other than this, you can also replicate the traits of optimistic people by practicing them. To get started, switch from negative self-talk to positive self-talk. In case of an unfortunate event, don’t blame yourself. Don’t constantly assume the worst. When looking for solutions, don’t touch extreme ends, rather find middle grounds. Furthermore, try to always focus on the bright side.
You can lower your stress by means of not only being positive but also by staying grateful. Try meditation, journaling, and yoga. Get more physically active and engage in self-care too. Maintain a proper work-life balance and develop healthier eating and sleeping habits. Surround yourself with people who are positive as both optimism and pessimism can be contagious.
It is important to keep in mind though that optimism is only positive as long as it is realistic. Being impractically and illogically optimistic and hopeful about something that is most certainly not going to go in a favorable direction can be harmful. That’s because impractical expectations eventually lead to hurt. Therefore, be optimistic, but not foolishly so.