Healthy OptimismJanuary 22, 2013 Written by JP [Font too small?]
In recent years, scientists from esteemed institutes of learning have identified an apparent link between an optimistic mindset and physical wellness. The latest entry into this topic comes from the Harvard School of Public Health. An analysis of nearly 1,000 middle-aged men and women determined that higher levels of self-reported optimism were associated with greater concentrations of serum antioxidants (carotenoids). The reason is likely due to a bidirectional effect in which “optimists are likely to engage in health behaviors associated with more serum antioxidants, and more serum antioxidants are likely associated with better physical health that enhances optimism”. This newly observed antioxidant effect may also, in part, explain why greater optimism has been continually linked to a lower risk of cardiac events and strokes.
If you find yourself lacking in the optimism department, there is hope for you yet. In fact, there are at least three scientifically validated ways of naturally increasing optimism. Researchers from Oxford University report that the use of positive mental imagery promotes optimism. Simply taking 5 minutes each day to envision a brighter future may be all that you need. Getting adequate, but not excessive, sleep has likewise been shown to improve optimism and other “positive personality characteristics”. How much is enough? Adults should generally aim for 7 to 8 hours per night. Of note: getting more than 9 hours of sleep may have a detrimental effect – except in children. A third, indirect approach to increasing optimism is to practice yoga. Two studies, lasting 4 and 6 weeks respectively, discovered improvements in optimism and other measures of psychological health, including reduced reactivity to stressful events. The studies cited today are the latest examples of how we can constructively change our mental and physical states by incorporating mind-body practices into our daily routines. It is now understood that optimism can be developed and the volume of pessimism can be turned down.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 – Association Between Optimism and Serum Antioxidants in the Midlife … (link)
Study 2 – Comparative Optimism Among Patients w/ Coronary Heart Disease … (link)
Study 3 – Low Pessimism Protects Against Stroke: The Health and Social Support … (link)
Study 4 – Optimism and Mental Imagery: A Possible Cognitive Marker to Promote … (link)
Study 5 – Become More Optimistic by Imagining a Best Possible Self: Effects of … (link)
Study 6 – Optimism and Self-Esteem Are Related to Sleep … (link)
Study 7 – The Effect of Optimism on Depression: The Mediating and Moderating … (link)
Study 8 – Sleep Quantity, Quality and Optimism in Children … (link)
Study 9 – Moving Beyond Health to Flourishing: The Effects of Yoga Teacher … (link)
Study 10 – Wellness Through a Comprehensive Yogic Breathing Program … (link)
Low Pessimism May Protect Against Stroke
Source: Stroke. 2010 Jan;41(1):187-90. (link)
Tags: Antioxidants, Heart Health, Yoga
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise, Mental Health