Did you know that being optimistic can boost your health? A recent finding from John's Hopkins Lisa R. Yanek, M.P.H., and her colleagues found that among people who have a family history of heart disease, those who had a positive outlook were "one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook. (1)
The Mayo Clinic links positive self talk and positivity to increased life span, lower rates of depression, improved resistance to colds, improved wellbeing of both the mind and body, better heart health, and an easier time coping with hardship and stress. (2)
While it's not clear exactly how positivity works to support health there is a strong link between the two. Some suggest that those who are more positive are protected from stress related inflammation. Others suggest being positive helps people make better life and health choices. Studies also indicate that negative emotions can weaken the immune response.
What is clear is that positive attitudes improve outcomes across a spectrum of conditions, including cancer and brain trauma and stroke.
If you are a glass half empty kind of person or think being optimistic is forgoing being realistic don't fret or dismiss the idea until you give it a try.
How to boost your bright side.
Try smiling: Even fake smiling can have profound effects on the body. It can reduce blood pressure and heart rate during stressful situations. So read a few jokes, watch a funny video, enjoy a pet. It's not goofing off. It's for your health.
Change your perspective (reframe): When your stuck in traffic or a long line you can either stew or find a happier place. If your stuck in traffic why not practice gratitude and be thankful for your car, your job, your family, etc. If you have to wait can you enjoy some music or read a bit? There may be nothing you can do about the situation but you can always control your attitude and response.
Take things in stride: Change is inevitable. Problems will arise for everyone. How we respond is key. Having a good attitude, taking action, and choosing wise council from family and friends can help.
Practice positive self talk: Sometimes students will say "I'm terrible at math" or people will say "bad backs run in my family" and so forth. It's like they are programing themselves to believe something before looking for solutions. Positive self talk might be "I'm improving my math skills", "I may need to work a little harder in math than my other subjects", and "What can I do to keep my back healthy?"
If you find yourself slipping into negative self chat, stop and redirect your thoughts to a more positive place. With practice positivity can become a habit.
Surround yourself with positive people: "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17 Your parents and teachers were right. When you hang out with positive people and good influences you'll tend to become more positive yourself. This can look like joining a running or garden club, bible study, or a group that helps others. If you are struggling with an issue or illness positive support groups can be an excellent place to share frustrations and also get loving support.
Gratitude journal: Taking time to count your blessings, recount how you solved problems or met goals is inspiring and helps promote a positive, thankful mood.
Diffusing uplifting essential oils during meditation, prayer, bible study, or journaling can boost mood. Citrus oils (lemon, lime, grapefruit, bergamot, mandarin, orange, etc.) are lovely, cedarwood or frankinscene can be very grounding, pine and fir oils are refreshing, and mint or rosemary can uplift. Try an equal amount of lavender, lemon, and peppermint. One drop Frankinscene, two lavender, and two or three orange. Or even two or three drops Siberian fir, one drop lemon, and one drop corn mint, or whatever combination you enjoy.
Aroma inhalers: These are like personal diffusers. A cotton wick is encased in a plastic tube with a cover. To use you just add oils to the cotton wick, seal in the tube, and un cap and inhale as needed. You can use on the go, at work, or have them at beside. Aroma inhalers are great to use during times of stress, to support immune health, soothe headaches, or simply to enjoy your favorite aromas. Try a blend of 7 drops lavender, 7 drops orange, and 2 drops rosemary or a combination of 5 rosemary, 5 peppermint, 5 orange, to uplift and refresh. 10 Lavender, 4 cedarwood, and one ylang-ylang is lovely and relaxing. And it is easy to come up with your own combinations.
So if you are looking for ways to boost your health eat well, sleep well, exercise, nurture positive relationships, and practice positivity.
If you have questions about aromatherapy, essential oils, or just have a good joke to share, contact Tricia.
1. John's Hopkins Medicine website, The Power of Positive Thinking, accessed August 7, 2018: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_mind/the-power-of-positive-thinking
2. Mayo Clinic website, Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress, accessed August 7, 2018: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950