Taking care of your health is a top priority at any age, but for retirees wellness becomes a pressing concern. Obviously, following your doctor’s advice, taking your medications, eating well, and exercising regularly can help you stay healthy. There’s one more thing that everyone should do, particularly as you grow older and become more prone to loneliness, depression, or chronic disease.
Researchers have been investigating the powerful link between the state of your mind and the state of your physical health – and what they’ve found might surprise you.
Scientists have conducted various studies on chronic conditions, ranging from high blood pressure and blood sugar, to breast cancer and heart disease. One particularly illuminating study even investigated the long-term survival rates of patients with HIV. And in every single study, a positive outlook (that is, a healthy state of mind) was positively correlated with symptom reduction, better overall physical health, and even longer survival rates in those with serious diseases.
Additionally, numerous cancer survivors have credited their mindset with carrying them through uncomfortable treatments, and helping them reach remission.
It has become clear that a positive mindset does influence physical health. Feelings like hope, joy, and gratitude seem to boost the immune system and reduce negative symptoms.
So, how do you encourage yourself to maintain a healthy mindset? It can often be challenging, especially when you’re suffering from an uncomfortable illness or chronic condition. Researchers have used the following strategies in their studies. The good news is, they’re simple things that you can start doing today!
- Start a journal, and write down one positive thing from each day
- Similarly, record one thing for which you are grateful each day
- Commit to a daily act of kindness, whether it is a good deed or simply a few nice words for someone else
- Switch your focus to the present, and practice setting aside worries about the future
- List your strengths and remind yourself how you’ve used them to face challenging situations
- When you face a stressful situation, sit down and list ways to respond positively
We aren’t sure exactly how it works yet. Do positive feelings release chemicals in the brain, which in turn stimulate the immune system? Or, do they simply keep you feeling energetic and hopeful, so that you can better manage your symptoms and care for your health? Researchers are sure to figure it out sooner or later. But for now, we just know that it works. So give the above exercises a try, and remember that taking care of your emotional health will also boost your physical wellness.