7 Ways Positive Thinking Can Affect Your Health, Because Being Optimistic Is Good For You

We all know the basics of taking care of our physical health: eat well, exercise, get adequate sleep. But not many of us think about how our mental health can have an effect on our physical well being. Our mind is so strong, in fact, that there are ways positive thinking can impact our health.

Researchers have long known that positive thinking is good for your mind, but it can also have some fascinating effects on the body. "For decades we've all been hearing about the mind-body connection," says psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona to Bustle over email. "What started out as what many called 'new age nonsense' has now been validated in countless clinical research studies. The hypothalamus, adrenal, and pituitary glands are thought to all play a pivotal role"

If you're somewhat of a pessimist and finding yourself thinking you're doomed to an unhealthy life, think again. Negative thinking isn't a trait you're stuck with, and with a little bit of work, you can train your mind to start thinking positively. Not only will you lower your risk of depression and anxiety, but you'll start reaping a variety of health benefits as well.

Next time you find yourself spiraling down a trail of negative thoughts, consider the following six health benefits of thinking positively, and maybe you'll be inspired to adopt a positive mindset.

1. Longer Life

According to Harvard Health Publications, many studies have found that optimistic people end up living longer lives and have a decreased risk of mortality compared to pessimists. This is because being an optimist actually makes you healthier overall. Optimists also tend to have more friends and greater social interaction.

2. Increased Immunity

The more you think positively, the better your immune system will be, according to a University of Kentucky study. When people think optimistically, they show a stronger flow of immune cells in response to foreign invasion.

3. Good Cholesterol Levels

Although you should still eat the right foods to keep your cholesterol down, keeping an upbeat state of mind might be a helpful supplement. A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that being optimistic can help keep your cholesterol levels low.

4. Better Heart Health

According to the American Heart Association, studies show that optimists have a lower risk of heart failure, even up to almost 75 percent lower than people with a negative attitude. A study from Denmark also found that in patients with heart disease, those who keep a positive attitude are 42 percent less likely to die than their negative-thinking counterparts.

5. Improved Stress Management

Looking on the bright side can come in handy when it comes to stress. Research shows that optimists tend to be more resilient to stress and use better coping strategies when it comes to dealing with their anxiety, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health.

6. Lower Risk Of Stroke

Keeping a positive outlook can help lower your risk of stroke, especially in people over 50, according to a study published on MedScape.

All of the factors above, including better stress management and improved heart health, can be possible explanations for this lowered risk. Long story short: Be happy. It's good for you.

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