Power of Positive Thinking for Your Heart

Healthy Heart|Oct.17, 2017

Do you wake up each morning looking forward to the day ahead? Do you try to see the bright side of every situation?

If you answered yes, then you're already on the right track toward a healthy heart.

Research shows that a positive attitude is linked to better health outcomes, particularly improved heart health. Optimistic people, especially older adults, tend to live longer, lead healthier lives and have fewer cardiovascular illnesses. How can you and your loved ones practice positive thinking and gain a healthier heart in the process?

Be Upbeat for a Healthy Heart

While positive thinking occurs in the mind, studies show optimism has a direct impact on your body and future health risks.

Emotional vitality — characterized by hopefulness, enthusiasm and emotional balance — is associated with a substantially reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.

In one study published in Health Behavior and Policy Review, researchers examined the optimism levels and physical health of more than 5,000 adults from 52 to 84. Findings showed adults with greater optimism had twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their pessimistic counterparts. Optimists also had better blood sugar and cholesterol levels than those with negative attitudes.

Opt for Optimism, Especially for Older Adults

While everyone can benefit from a more positive attitude, older adults can especially improve their health by thinking more on the bright side. Optimism in seniors is associated with fewer chronic illnesses and better overall health. In a recent study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers examined age differences and changes in optimism in 9,790 older adults over a four-year period. They found that increases in seniors' optimism levels were linked with improvements in self-rated health and fewer chronic illnesses, including high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, lung disease, coronary heart disease and stroke.

The findings are good reason to ask your grandparents whether they see the world as half-empty or half-full. If they need help changing their attitudes, you can help with some of these tips.

Practice Positivity

Some people are born positive thinkers, while others have to practice.

Optimism doesn't mean ignoring life's curve balls. It just means approaching them in a more positive and productive way. Check out these four changes to incorporate positivity into your daily mindset.

  1. Identify negativity. Pinpoint areas of your life that you tend to think negatively about, such as work, relationships or chores. Focus on one area to start thinking about more positively.
  2. Find humor. Allow yourself to smile or laugh at life's circumstances, particularly during challenging moments. Try to find humor in everyday scenarios and focus on laughing and smiling rather than stressing and complaining.
  3. Befriend positive people. Surround yourself with supportive, positive thinkers who encourage you.
  4. Be your own best friend. Many people are guilty of negative self-talk — the habit of criticizing yourself or comparing yourself to others. Instead, banish the harsh words swirling around your brain.

With a few simple changes, you and your loved ones can leave the land of negativity. Positive thinking a happier place to be, and your heart will thank you for it.