How being positive about the future can add years to your life

Research shows that optimism improves mortality rates

Being told to ‘look on the bright side of life’ might make some of us grit our teeth in annoyance, but it seems it can actually benefit our lifespan if we do.

While we’re wise to the fact that a negative outlook can affect mental health, it’s now been proven that it can affect physical health too.

By seeing the glass as half empty rather than half full, researchers in New York and Boston have shown that this heightens your risk of heart disease as well as taking years off your life.

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The study was designed to assess the link between optimism and cardiac health, with nearly 300,000 individuals taking part and being followed for 14 years.

Participants who were shown to have a sunny disposition, their chance of heart disease was slashed by a whopping 35% while their risk of death from all causes fell by 14% too.

The findings, which confirm the “promotion of optimism and reduction in pessimism may be important for preventive health”, were printed in the JAMA Network Open medical journals.

[Credit: Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash]

A second experiment supports these claims, in which they analysed the effects of optimism on mortality rates by studying another group of people for over a decade.

The results on this occasion showed that women with the highest optimism scores had a 50% greater chance of reaching the age of 85, while men had a 70% greater chance.

Speaking about the findings, lead author and professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, Lewina Lee, believes optimism is linked to longevity as people who look on the bright side are better able to cope with stress and bounce back from problems.

While stress may have once been considered as something that affects the mind, it can have serious consequences on the body too due to the physiological changes that take place with the constant release of anxiety-hormones adrenaline and cortisol.

[Credit: Sydney Rae / Unsplash]

It is reported that illnesses like cancer are more likely to happen in the five to ten years following a traumatic event, such as bereavement or divorce, according to Aging Defeated.

The link between Alzheimer’s and stress is also being examined, as stress is known to cause inflammation in the brain which can make it more susceptible to health problems like dementia.

In today’s world it’s not always so easy to simply chill, but, connecting with people, avoiding unhealthy habits, making space for ‘me time’, and accepting the things you cannot change, may help with the chill vibe a bit more.

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