Why Positive Thinking Can Boost Physical Health
Positive thinking can transform your mental life, boosting your daily happiness levels and expediting your path to success. However, the benefits of a more positive outlook can also extend to your physical health in some interesting and surprising ways.
Positive Thinking Reduces Stress Levels
Studies on positive thinkers strongly suggest that these people are better at coping with stress and are more likely to spend time focusing on constructive solutions to problems. Cardiovascular tests on optimists and pessimists show that optimistic people's bodies return to a relaxed state (including a normal resting heart rate) at a much faster pace, and this ability to handle stress could lead to significant health benefits. For one thing, high stress levels are known to increase blood pressure and are related to an increased risk of health problems like diabetes and dementia.
Positive Thinking Could Improve Immune System Function
Fascinating research on the connections between physical and mental health support the (initially perplexing) claim that positive thinking can boost resistance to disease. For example, one study found that activity in parts of the brain that are linked to experiencing negative emotions such as fear and sadness are correlated with a weaker immune system response to vaccines. Meanwhile, positive thinkers who are optimistic about their dreams and goals test as having a stronger immune response. Further studies also suggest that people with upbeat attitudes catch fewer cold and flu viruses and show that patients who are diagnosed with potentially terminal illnesses tend to experience more consistent and significant improvements after receiving treatments.
Positive Thinkers Tend To Embrace Healthier Lifestyles
Some of the health benefits of positive thinking seem to be related to the fact that positive thinkers are keener to eat healthy foods, engage in regular exercise and practice forms of preventative healthcare. For example, the recent medical journal article that documented the link between optimism and higher levels of good cholesterol may be explained by this interest in healthy living. A similar hypothesis could be applied to the fact that positive thinkers suffer from fewer heart attacks and are approximately 9% less likely to have a stroke. However, there is as yet no consensus on whether positive thinking directly influences health or does so via first influencing lifestyle, so research into the direction of causation is ongoing.
Positive Thinkers Can Live Longer
Finally, given the above, it makes sense that positive thinkers seem to have a better life expectancy. One remarkable study of over 600 hospital patients in Denmark found that the people with the most positive moods were close to 60% more likely to live for at least five more years. This result may be partly connected to some of the benefits we have just explored, but it is highly likely that there are many other hitherto undiscovered links between positive thinking and physical wellbeing. One thing is clear: