Are Happy People Healthier? New Reasons to Stay Positive

Scientists are finding more and more proof of the outstanding way our emotions can influence our immune system.

The powerful link between emotional outlook and physical health is no secret. “I did not believe in it when I started out 40 years ago,” says Martin Seligman, PhD, one of the preeminent experts in the field of positive psychology and author of the new book Flourish. “But the data has grown year after year, and it is become a scientific certainty.” Great feelings, scientists now know, have healing effects on the body, and researchers studying everything from the flu to HIV continue to find eye-opening evidence that a person’s thoughts-set can influence her immunity and the rate at which she heals from injuries and illness.

“When it comes to our health,” says Seligman, “there are basically four issues below our control: the selection not to smoke, a commitment to exercise, the top quality of our diet program, and our level of optimism. And optimism is at least as useful as the other people.” Scientists don’t yet fully recognize the biological mechanisms at work, but they know that unfavorable feelings like tension, sadness, and worry lead to a spike in the hormone cortisol, which in turn suppresses the immune system. Right here, then, are suggestions culled from the newest research on how to stay positive—and healthful.

Express Yourself

When you clear your head, good things happen to the rest of you. A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine reported that HIV patients who wrote about their worries for 30 minutes a day four days in a row skilled a drop in their viral load and a rise in infection-fighting T cells. Another study, in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, located that breast cancer patients who talked about their feelings relating to cancer had to schedule fewer doctors’ visits for cancer-associated difficulties.

Attempt Meditative Exercise

We know tai chi has all sorts of benefits, and here’s one a lot more: In research conducted at UCLA, 61 older adults took tai chi classes three times a week, even though 61 others attended health education classes. At the end of four months, both groups received a dose of the shingles vaccine—and the tai chi group achieved twice the level of immunity. “It really is most likely the meditation component that is causing the impact,” says study author Michael R. Irwin. “Which means it’s attainable other forms of meditative exercise, like yoga, would lead to a related increase.”

Seek Help If You Require It

A study by researchers at the University of Nottingham monitored the rate of healing in 93 people with foot ulcers, a skin injury frequent in diabetics. After six months, subjects who were clinically depressed and subjects who were not coping well emotionally with their situation showed much less improvement. As a outcome of the findings, the university is creating a therapy program for diabetic patients. “We hope this intervention will assist cut the risk of reulceration,” says study author Kavita Vedhara, PhD.

Lean on Your Buddies

Sheldon Cohen, PhD, is a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University and an specialist on the link amongst social networks and health. In one of his studies, Cohen exposed 276 adults to the typical cold virus. He wasn’t surprised to find that smokers had been three times far more likely to get sick. But Cohen also discovered that subjects who had the least variety of social relationships fared even worse—they had been 4.2 times far more likely to catch a cold. One reason people with strong social ties are far better at warding off infection may be that they have lower pressure levels, Cohen says.

Look on the Bright Side

In another of Cohen’s studies, he assessed 193 subjects to establish their level of positive emotions (like happiness, calmness, and liveliness). Once more, he exposed participants to a virus—and located that individuals who scored low on good emotions were three times as probably to succumb to the bug. (A handful of high-scoring participants fell ill, as well, but they reported fewer signs and symptoms than the average cold or flu sufferer normally experiences.) What’s intriguing about this phenomenon, says Lara M. Stepleman, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and health behavior at the Medical College of Georgia, is that “we all have the potential to decide on an optimistic mind-set. And with practice, we can get greater at it.


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Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:52 pm You might like: Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:19 am ” by Noentry Scientists are finding more and more proof of the remarkable way our emotions can affect our immune system. Read more: http: www.oprah.com health How-Your-Em … z1zQ4qnLdV The powerful link between emotional outlook and physical health is no secret.

• Are Happy People Healthier? New Reasons to Stay Positive

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