A Laugh a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: The Health Benefits of Positivity
Being positive makes you a healthier person overall. The end!
Okay, we can go into a little more depth than that. But really, if you take away only one thing from this article, it’s that being positive is…well…positive in many ways. And not just in the hippy-dippy Pollyanna type of way. Researchers have found pretty compelling evidence between optimism and being a healthier person.
According to the Mayo Clinic, individuals who are generally optimistic and positive often see:
● An increased life span
● Lowered rates of depression and distress
● A boosted immune system with greater resistance to illnesses like the common cold
● Improved cardiovascular health, along with a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
Better ability to manage stress
Now, it’s not simply “thinking positively” that spurs these health benefits. Researchers found that when people approached their situation with a glass-half-full approach, they were more apt to do things that were good for them, like exercising more, eating better and spending more time with friends and family. Put those habits together, and it appears that optimism can spur some pretty awesome health changes.
For many individuals—particularly senior adults—it can be difficult to remain positive in the face of changing situations, especially if their health and abilities are declining and they’re having to make significant lifestyle switches (like moving into a senior living community or giving up the ability to drive). But therein lies the secret weapon of optimism: it’s something you choose instead of something that happens to you. By making an active, deliberate choice to remain positive, you’re already moving forward on the right path. And just like with any sort of exercise routine or habit, the more you do it, the easier you will find it!
Here are a few ways to think and act more positively:
● Have a laugh. You’ve heard the old phrase “laughter is the best medicine?” That’s backed up by research that shows that 10-15 minutes of laughing per day can relax your muscles for up to 45 minutes (and burns about 40 calories, too). It also lowers blood pressure, releases endorphins and gives your immune system a boost.
Make healthy lifestyle choices. Exercise is great for you and makes you feel good. And when you feel good, things look a lot more sunny. Try and exercise for about 30 minutes every day to reap the most benefits. You can split it up into 10-minute chunks to make it easier on yourself. Kick up the optimism by finding an exercise buddy to make it an even more enjoyable experience
Spend time with positive people. Ever found that when you’re surrounded by happy people, you just can’t help but feel a happier (and vice versa)? Spend time with people who are caring, positive and supportive, and you’ll start to feel the flow of positive energy throughout all your interactions.
Be kind to yourself. We’re always our biggest critics, and we’re quick to point out our flaws and mistakes. Flip that script, and when you find yourself beating yourself up internally, take a breath and instead choose to find the good.
According to a study by the University of Kansas, even fake smiles can boost your happiness, reduce your stress rate and release endorphins—so even “faking it until you make it” has benefits. Real smiles are always better, however, so find reasons every day to smile.
Making positivity and optimism a part of your daily life won’t just make you a healthier, happier person—it’ll rub off on everyone around you. So don’t be afraid to be a ray of sunshine. In fact, you can think of it as “doctor’s orders.”