Put a smile on your face, your life may depend on it! A recent study published in the Health Behavior and Policy review shows that those who maintain a positive outlook on life have healthier hearts, and are less likely to develop cardiovascular issues.
Using the same metrics as the American Health Association, the heart health of each participant was measured using metrics such as body mass index, dietary intake, physical activity, and blood pressure. Surveys were also completed to track mental health, including levels of optimism. 5,100 adults between the ages of 45 to 84 years of age were analyzed.
According to lead author Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois, “Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts.”
Those who were measured as being the most optimistic were also found to have better cholesterol and blood sugar levels, healthier body mass indexes, and be more physically active.
Another study, published in the American Journal of Cardiology, has found that regular positive emotions can actually help to prevent coronary heart disease. With such amazing results from simply changing your attitude, it’s definitely in your best interest to have a positive outlook on life!
How To Be More Optimistic
Now that you’re aware of how much your physical health depends on having a positive outlook, what can you do to become more of an optimist? It doesn’t take much more than changing the way you think and being aware of your mental state at all times.
1. Act Silly
With so many mundane distractions these days, including the ability to work remotely, our personal lives have become bombarded with time-consuming work tasks. Instead of living such a serious life 24/7, try to act a bit absurd in the comfort of your home with family, or better yet – in public. Pleasant jokes and the ability to find humor in minor happenings each day can work wonders for your mood, and have a positive effect on those around you.
2. Speak Enthusiastically
When someone asks, “How are you today?’, skip your normal, repetitive response of “I’m good”, and replace it with real, positive feelings, such as “I’m feeling fantastic!” Then immediately think to yourself about the recent accomplishments in your life, which give actual reason to why you do feel great!
3. Write Down Your Accomplishments & Read Them Aloud
It’s easy to get depressed by focusing on the negatives. However, dwelling about your poor choices of the past and worrying about things you cannot control can quickly put a damper on your mood and impair your physical health. Take five minutes at the end of each week to jot down a list of your most recent accomplishments. Then take another five minutes to actually read the list out loud. Speaking and also listening to your achievements will allow you to better remember the great things you’ve done, and to help eliminate space for negative thoughts.
4. Listen To Uplifting Music
By listening to your favorite upbeat music, it can elevate your mood and enhance your attitude. Children and adults who suffer from bouts of depression can use music therapy to naturally treat their mood, without the risk of potentially hazardous side-effects from anti-depressants. According to a study conducted by psychologist Daniel J. Levitan, PhD, music has also been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. So take a load off, kick your feet up, and enjoy some of your favorite beats!
5. Eat Healthy & Exercise Regularly
It’s now well known that both your mental and physical health are directly linked to one another. Regular exercise not only builds cardiovascular endurance and grows muscle strength; it stimulates the mind. If you’re not able to hit the gym a few times a week, you should still be able to fit in a light workout each day. Just a brisk 20-30 minute walk each morning or evening can do wonders for your mental state.
For example, authors with “writer’s block” can often benefit from a quick walk around the block, to take a break from the work, and come back with plenty of new ideas! Many health-minded businesses are now encouraging their workers to conduct “walking meetings,” rather than sit in cubicles and boardrooms all day. This type of regular exercise can elevate happiness, make for more collaborate teamwork, and increase overall productivity within the office.
6. Practice Kindness
You know that feel-good moment when you go out of your way to help another in need? When was the last time you spent time to console a friend, praise a family member, or commend one of your coworkers? Often times, just the simple act of smiling to a stranger, or a friendly “Hello,” can promote happiness. If giving gifts is more your style, it’s good to know that spending money on others can also increase your happiness, thus becoming healthier in the process.
Consider volunteering at your church or favorite charity organizations. Helping others can be one of the most rewarding things you can do.
Natural Supplements To Boost Your Mental State
Herbal remedies and other natural supplements have been used for centuries to promote happiness and treat depression. For years I’ve recommended the following mood-boosting supplement to help patients improve their mood and decrease anxiety, and in turn help their overall mental and physical state:
Diamond Nutritionals’ Mood Support Formula is a blend of 5-HTP, vitamins, and minerals that have been shown to support those with mild to moderate depression, sleeplessness, and mild to moderate anxiety. Ingredients include:
- 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan): an amino acid derived from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia. It plays an important role in the production of serotonin. 5-HTP is the precursor to serotonin from tryptophan. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical that sends a message from one nerve to another) known to play a major role in mood. Low levels of serotonin have been associated with mood disorders.
- Pyridoxal 5-phosphate, vitamin B6, also plays an important role in the production of serotonin. Tryptophan hyrdoxylase, the rate-limiting enzyme in neural serotonin synthesis, can be inhibited by pyridoxine deficiency. Pyridixoine is also an important co-factor in the production of AADC (L-amino acid decarboxylase), which converts 5-HTP to serotonin. A study done in 2004 suggests that low pyridoxine levels may be related to symptoms of a mood disorder.
- Magnesium deficiency, like vitamin B6, can inhibit tryptophan hydroxylase. Both calcium and magnesium deficiency are known to cause mood disorders and anxiety.
- Studies also suggest a link between folate (folic acid) deficiency and impaired metabolism of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline.
- It has been shown that low levels of serum zinc is associated with mood disorders, and is corrected shortly after zinc supplementation. The exact mechanism of zinc for use in mood disorders is not known.
You may have heard this before: Attitude is everything!