Worried about the health of your heart? Want to lower your risk for stroke? Well – it might be as easy as being a little more optimistic in your outlook. According to researchers at the University of Michigan, the more optimistic you are, the less chance you have of suffering a stroke.
For the new study, the Michigan researchers looked at data from the Health and Retirement Study. The team looked at the results of standard optimism tests for 6,044 men and women, 50 years old and up. All were free of stroke at the study’s start. Optimism was rated on a 16-point scale. All the participants self-rated their health, and the team followed them for two years. During the follow-up period, 88 cases of stroke occurred.
After adjusting for age, the research team found that for each increase in their optimism score, the participants reduced their stroke risk about 9 %. The researchers also adjusted for other factors such as smoking, alcohol use, race, gender, marital status, blood pressure, chronic illness, mental illness, body mass index and level of physical activity. They found the association between optimism and reduced risk of stroke remained intact.
So how does being more optimistic protect your heart? The researchers suggest that those who expect the best things in life likely take steps to promote their good health. The research team also explained that in a similar way that depression can impact your physical health in a negative way, optimism can have a positive result. Optimism has previously been linked to protection against heart attacks.
The good news in all of this is that optimism could actually make an excellent alternative therapy for physical health. Optimism is teachable and for those at risk for stroke, learning to take a more positive outlook can be a real boost to good health.
Here are six tips for looking on the bright side of life:
–take care of your personal needs.
–focus on today – make it the best it can be.
–take care of your personal needs – it will make you feel better about everything else.
–don’t let your energy be drained by inconsequential things – let go of things that don’t really matter.
–feed your mind and body with positive words and messages – there is more to life than bad news.
–pursue your interests – study, participate, learn, watch – whatever it takes to feed your imagination and emotions.