A balanced diet, exercise, genetics, and even some medications can help make a person healthy, says William M. Healy, MD. However, Dr. Healy also notes that a person’s demeanor also impacts their personal health referring to findings by the Mayo Clinic.

According to the Mayo Clinic, being an optimist or pessimist affects many areas of a person’s health and well-being, and that those who see the glass half-full may be healthier than those who see it half-empty. If a person has a negative outlook, their bodies produce stress hormones, which can compromise the immune system, increase blood pressure, and even reduce their body’s ability to burn fat effectively. Thinking negatively and being on edge also increases the risk for developing cardiovascular disease and aging prematurely. However, studies show that positive thinking helps decrease depression and anxiety, increase life expectancy, and provide greater resistance to certain illnesses, such as the common cold.

A study by Stanford University researchers found that daughters of mothers suffering from depression found their own stress levels decrease on a brain scan as they switched from negative thoughts to happy ones. Researchers aren’t sure why positive thinking has such profound effects, but in addition to limiting stress-releasing hormones, positive thinking may inspire people to live healthier lifestyles and become more inclined toward engaging in routine physical activity and adopting a healthy diet. Happy people also may be less likely to use tobacco or alcohol as a coping mechanism when dealing with stress.

Because positive thinking has significant health benefits, Dr. Healy suggests the following tips to help men and women embrace their optimistic side.

  • Start an exercise regimen, which can help reduce stress and improve mood.
  • Surround yourself with people who bring a smile to your face, and find ways to laugh. Instead of going out to dinner or bar, try a comedy club. Watch comedies at home or at the theatre, and find humor in everyday happenings.
  • Reflect on things that bring you down or inspire negative reactions, and find ways to improve the situation.
  • Consider what you would say to others and be equally kind to yourself.
  • Try volunteering, which offers many opportunities to view the world more positively, and see things from a different perspective while helping others.
  • Take a cue from children who find joy in small things and watch them.
  • You may find yourself laughing and enjoying yourself more. Being silly occasionally can help recapture youthful feelings.

Research shows laughter is good medicine. It relaxes the entire body, relieves stress and tension, decreases stress hormones, and increases infection-fighting antibodies. Positive thinking is a great way to improve personal health and live longer.

William M. Healy, M.D. is board certified in Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine. He believes in the importance of a strong doctor-patient relationship, a personal approach to healthcare, and focuses on nutrition education and preventive medicine to promote physical and mental well-being. Located at 2235 Millersport Highway, Suite 100, Getzville, NY 14068, learn more at www.facebook.com/WilliamHealyMD, or call 716-204-5938.