By Stephanie Scott
ou can eat the right food, put in hours at the gym, or try every new health fad out there – but if you want to make a serious difference in your health, you might want to remember to smile. Mental health professionals have heralded the transformative power of a positive mindset for decades, and now science is starting to take note of how important a positive mindset is for living your best, healthiest life.
A new study, led by Johns Hopkins University’s assistant professor Lisa Yanek, reviewed cases of people with a history of heart conditions and found that those who had a “positive mindset” were an astounding one-third less likely to have a heart attack than those with a negative mindset.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic recently published findings on the effects of positive thinking and noted that the revered medical institution would be making an effort to “continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health.”
Health benefits of a positive mindset include:
- Increased life span (5 or more years)
- Decreased rates of depression
- Decreased level of physical stress markers
- Greater resistance to the common cold virus
- Better psychological health
- Improved physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from heart disease
- Better coping skills
Researchers say that though they still have not cracked the reason that a positive mindset has shown such remarkable benefits, the Johns Hopkins team theorizes that having a positive outlook allows you to better handle stress, greatly reducing its effects on the body.
If you are a naturally negative person, or just prone to getting your feathers ruffled, here are some tips to instantly improve your outlook, from the Mayo Clinic:
- Identify areas you usually think negatively about (work, traffic, relationship) and evaluate what you’re thinking. Try to reframe it into a positive.
- Give yourself permission to laugh and smile, even when times are tough. Humor is a powerful tool to improve your mindset.
- Aim for 30 minutes of exercise daily. It’s a proven mood booster.
- Surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Negative people can increase your stress level or prevent you from developing healthy habits.
- Practice positive self-talk. Don’t tell yourself you are not capable of handling stress. Focus on the strengths you possess and your best qualities.
Putting these habits into place can not only help you improve your physical health and longevity, but they will also provide positive benefits throughout your life. And the best part? The happier you are, the better the benefits. That’s a good reason to smile.