A positive mind is good for one’s healthDr. Veita Bland / August 21, 2015
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It’s a Matter of Your Health
Life is full of so many ups and downs. We see people who respond to the flow of life differently. Some people seem to have an internal Sun glowing within and they seem to never let anything darken their moods. There are other people who seem to have a dark cloud that follows behind and in front of them. They look depressed and their life is always a story of woe. Well, certainly this is an exaggeration of these two types of personalities but you do get the picture.
Have you ever wondered if your emotional health has any bearing on your physical health? Well the National Institutes of Health has sponsored studies to examine this. Researchers want to know if those who have a positive outlook of their lives have any advantage over those who have a more negative outlook. The evidence confirms that there is a mind-body connection and your attitude is linked to your mental and physical state of being.
It was noted that having a positive attitude does not mean it is always present. Sometimes negative emotions like anger and sadness are appropriate for certain circumstances, the key is finding that balance.
Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at UNC, Chapel Hill, states, “Positive emotions expand our awareness and open us up to new ideas, so we can grow and add to our toolkit for survival. People need negative emotions to move through difficult situations and respond to them appropriately in the short term. Negative emotions can get us into trouble, though, if they’re based on too much rumination about the past or excessive worry about the future, and they’re not really related to what ‘s happening in the here and now.”
People who are emotionally healthy have fewer negative emotions and are able to bounce back from difficulties faster. This resilience allows them to hold on to positive emotions longer and appreciate the good times. They stay focused on what is meaningful to them.
It has been determined that an upbeat mental state contributes to better physical health. This would include lower blood pressure, reduced risk for heart disease, better weight, better blood sugar levels and longer life.
Studies of the brain have shown that those who can savor the good feelings have activation of parts of the brain that are in the reward section. Activation of this part of the brain has been associated with lower stress in life.
Negative emotions activate the amygdala which plays a part in anxiety and fear. Studies show that there is a big difference in the time different people recover from an assault upon the amygdala. Those who take the longest to recover may be at more risk of health problems than those who recover quickly.
Studies also found that certain activities help train the brain to promote a more positive response. They found that training to focus on kindness and compassion helped. Different types of meditation and exploring self-affirmations helped.
Making the effort to be open to positive changes is indeed the key to emotional wellness. Dr. Frerickson says that research suggests that we have some control over which emotions we experience. Research is showing having a positive mindset may certainly improve the life you live.
Veita Bland is a board certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Tune into Dr. Bland’s radio health program, It’s a Matter of Your Health: The 30 Minute Health Magazine, Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on WNAA, 90.1FM. Dr. Bland can also be heard on Wednesdays Sirius/XM at 5 p.m. on station 142. To contact Dr. Bland with suggestions for future articles, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. or follow on Twitter @Drvbland.