optimism heart healthWe all would like to be happy, and many of us may even say to ourselves, “you know, I really do need to try being positive more often…” If you weren’t motivated to find the positive spin on life, here is something that may provide a little more motivation to find reasons to smile! The Journal of The American Stroke Foundation and The Mayo Clinic released articles about how optimism can lower your risk of stroke.

There is so much research about how people with mental illnesses are more likely to have health problems, it is nice to see some research on how optimism can be beneficial. In the study the article references, a student from the University of Michigan followed adults of retirement age for 2 years. Within these two years, for each “unit” of optimism the participants had on her optimism scale, they were 9% less likely to have a stroke within the two year period. The researcher added…

“In a similar way that depression can impact functioning, we think optimism can as well. Optimism isn’t just the lack of anxiety or depression. Someone who seeks help for either anxiety or depression might be lifted from a negative 10 or so on a scale back to zero, or neutral. Optimism can bring you back to positive numbers.”

Dr. Martin Seligman, who teaches Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a large contributor to the study and research of optimism stressed that this is such an important find to field of mental health. With information that optimism can help decrease your chances of having a stroke, it would be beneficial to examine how teaching to optimistic to pessimists can help decrease their stroke risk. After all, optimism IS something that can be taught!

How can we become optimistic?

Well, I’m so glad you asked! Turning pessimism into optimism is all about changing how you look at things, your evaluation of those things and situations, and changing negative self-talk into positive self-talk. The article got it right when they stated…

If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, first identify areas of your life that you typically think negatively about, whether it’s work, your daily commute or a relationship, for example. You can start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way…. Practicing positive self-talk will improve your outlook. When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you’re able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way. That ability may contribute to the widely observed health benefits of positive thinking.

Looking for a way to start changing your self-talk? Check out: http://www.russellsmall.com/awareness/changing-negative-talk-to-positive-phrases.html

Nicole Paulie is a Counselling Psychologist, and co-author of “How to be Happy and Healthy – The seven natural elements of mental health.” She provides therapy in the Dublin city area. Contact usto learn more or to book an appointment.

How optimism helps your heart
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