Come On, Get Happy: How Optimism Helps Your Health
Written by Sharlyn Gehrs
Do particularly peppy people irritate you? Do you find endless cheerfulness annoying? It turns out we’d all benefit by turning our positive attitudes up a notch. Optimism can strengthen hearts and improve health, according to a recent report by the Harvard School of Public Health.
A team of Harvard researchers headed by Julia K. Boehm, Ph.D., took a close look at how positivity can affect our health and well-being.
After analyzing more than 200 studies, researchers found that qualities such as optimism and positivity protect against heart disease and slow the progression of other illnesses. The most optimistic individuals had a 50 percent reduced risk of experiencing an initial cardiovascular event, compared to their more pessimistic counterparts.
The upside of upbeat doesn’t end with better heart health. A sunnier outlook might mean an increased lifespan, a stronger immune system, coping skills, and better psychological and physical well-being. What’s more, positive people live healthier lives — they exercise more, eat better and get more sleep, the study reports.
Can we learn to “get happy” when life is endlessly hectic and challenging? We can try. Check out August’s List for some ideas on how to do it.
Sharlyn Gehrs is a Seattle-based freelance writer and editor.
10 Ways to Build a More Positive Attitude
With the weather warming up, now is the perfect time to take small steps to get moving and build lasting healthy habits. Check out these 10 ideas for starting (and sticking to) a fitness routine.
1. Surround yourself with positive people. Learn from those you admire. Positivity is contagious.
2. Try positive self-talk. Give yourself an ego boost and pat on the back. Avoid focusing on the negative “I can’t” thoughts and encourage yourself to keep moving forward.
3. Set goals and share them with others. Think positively about your success. Sharing your goals makes them real and holds you accountable.
4. You decide how you feel. Talk yourself into having an upbeat attitude and practice motivating yourself every day.
5. Start your day on a good note. Create a positive morning ritual; whether it’s listening to your favorite music or sipping your favorite coffee, get the day going on your terms.
6. End your day on a good note. Find a routine and carve out some time to reflect on your blessings and what you’re thankful for.
7. Schedule “me” time. Find activities that will boost your mood and help you manage your stress.
8. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small. Build your confidence by making time to recognize your own accomplishments.
9. Laugh at life. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh when things are going rough and remember, there’s always tomorrow.
10. Follow a healthy lifestyle. Changes to your exercise and diet can affect your overall well-being, and can help boost your mood, reduce stress and give you more energy.