Studies in the past have strived to make a connection between attitude and health, particularly heart health. With a positive attitude, it’s said that can directly impact a positively healthy heart. We believe it, and yet maintaining a positive attitude to improve heart healthy can be tough, especially when you’re attempting to make those life changes to lower blood pressure and/or lower cholesterol. But, with the proof that it works and the right motivation, you can become a more optimistic person and at the same time improve your heart health.
Optimism and Cardiovascular Health
“Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts,” said lead study author Rosalba Hernandez. “This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health.”
The research out of the University of Illinois analyzed the mental health of over 5,000 adults over the age of 45, as well as these seven metrics of heart health: blood pressure, body mass index, fasting plasma glucose and serum cholesterol levels, dietary intake, physical activity and tobacco use – the same metrics used by the American Heart Association to define heart health and being targeted by the AHA in its Life’s Simple 7 public awareness campaign.
According to the published research, people who were the most optimistic were twice as likely to have ideal cardiovascular health, and 55 percent more likely to have a total health score in the intermediate range.
The findings went on to say that optimists had significantly better blood sugar and total cholesterol levels than their counterparts. They also were more physically active, had healthier body mass indexes and were less likely to smoke.
How to Be More Optimistic
Maintaining an optimistic attitude comes easily to some people, and not so easy for others. And, for those who struggle with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, it can be even tougher to be, well, happy. So, here are some tips to get you started:
1. Live in the Moment: Train your mind to live in this moment, right here and right now.
2. Cut Yourself a Break: You don’t have to be superman, or wonder woman. All you need to be is yourself, and if you need a moment to breathe, take that moment. Listen to your body, and don’t be afraid to put yourself first sometimes.
3. Find Positive People: It’s been proven that who we spend time with directly affects our attitudes. So, if you want to be happy, spend time with happy people. Surround yourself with the type of people you want to be.
4. Dreams: You might be in your ‘sunset years,’ as they say, but that’s no reason to stop dreaming, or to stop chasing your dreams. Live with passion!
5. Keep a Journal: Fill this journal with all of the things that make you smile, from your favorite foods to great memories. And, as you make new memories, write those down as well.