Being more positive about the future saw a huge cut in deadly diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer in women.
Women who are optimistic and believe good things will always happen are far less likely to develop deadly diseases later in life according to a new study.
Imagining a brighter future will cut the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, depression and cancer. This came from a study of over 70,000 women who were part of a U.S. survey looking at retired and working nurses. The participants were asked to rate their optimism on a scale of zero to 24 and then monitored over a period of eight years and any ill-health recorded.
The results showed a definite link between positive mental attitude and good health even after other factors such as initial bad health, marriage status and financial status.
The researchers believe that being optimistic and positive about the future not only triggers a psychological change but also a biological one.
“This study shows that optimism is associated with reduced risk of death from stroke, respiratory disease, infection and cancer,” said Eric Kim, a research fellow in the department of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston and leading author of the study. Optimistic people tend to act in healthier ways. Studies show that optimistic people exercise more, eat healthier diets and have higher quality sleep.”
Kim also believes those that are more optimistic have better coping strategies for when life takes a negative turn.
“Optimistic people also use healthier coping styles,” he said. “A summary of over 50 studies showed that when confronted with life challenges, optimists use healthier coping methods like acceptance of circumstances that cannot be changed, planning for further challenges, creating contingency plans, and seeking support from others when needed.”
Kim also says becoming a more positive person can be learned – being kind, noting down what you’re grateful for and striving to be your best self in situations and interactions with others are all ways people can learn to be more optimistic in life.
Details of the study were published in The American Journal of Epidemiology.