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Mariah's avatar

How much can your attitude affect your physical health?

Asked by Mariah (18949 points ) December 8th, 2010

We all hear about the benefits of optimism when dealing with illness – but how much truth is there to it, do you think?

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9 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Huge benefits!!
From personal experience,I know it to be true.
Two years ago, I could barely walk and had it not been for a positive outlook,I don’t think I would be rocking stilettos today ;)

Mariah's avatar

I used to believe that optimism was everything – but my opinion on this is changing. I think it can absolutely help you to heal if you keep your spirits up. But I think the potency of optimism has been blown out of proportion, to the extent that many people feel that if they aren’t getting better, it’s their own fault for not being positive enough. This is really harmful because it makes sick people feel responsible for something that’s out of their control, and it puts pressure on them not to express any of the negativity that they’re inevitably going to feel.

http://xkcd.com/828/

@lucillelucillelucille That is truly awesome!

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Mariah -Rational optimism is healthy.
If I had my legs amputated,I wouldn’t waste time with irrational optimism of their impending regeneration.Some people choose to wallow in the negative,I ain’t one of them .;)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Excellent answer. Optimism helps, but rationality is the key.

ucme's avatar

I have a slight dose of “man-flu” at the moment & my attitude can be summed up thus…...Help me i’m dying over here. Oh woe is me…sniffle sob wimper! I’m sure i’ll soldier on through it & come out smelling of roses as usual :¬)

marinelife's avatar

There have been studies done on this subject that show the impact:

“The type of personality you have can impact your health and well being, according to the Mayo Clinic. People who think positively may reap a number of health benefits. While the precise reasons for this remain unclear, it may be because happy people generally live healthier lifestyles that include regular exercise, healthy eating, not smoking and lower alcohol consumption.

An optimistic attitude may lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, advises the Mayo Clinic. The American Heart Association reports that cardiovascular disease—the combination of heart disease and stroke—claims 950,000 lives in the U.S. each year.

There may be truth the old saying that laughter is the best medicine. A study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center found that laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect against a heart attack. The study found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations, compared to people of the same age without heart disease.”

Note: These are just a couple of sections of a very interesting summary of the study.

Source

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think anyone knows how much optimism can affect your health. First of all, the only measurements of optimism are really quite crude, and similarly, health is a very broad thing that includes millions of factors. There are standard happiness tests, but who know what they really measure?

There’s a relationship is about all that can be said. The magnitude of that relationship is hard to say, and who knows which way it goes. Maybe it’s not happiness that promotes health, but health that promotes attitude. Or maybe the relationship goes both ways.

stardust's avatar

I whole-heartedly believe that optimisim has huge benefits in terms of health. As @lucillelucillelucille put it, rational optimism. I believe that a negative attitude/negative beliefs about life and oneself can only contribute to health problems – reagrdless of the problem.

ZAGWRITER's avatar

All I know is that over the last couple of years, my health level went in the toilet along with my outlook. The stress in my life felt like it literally had a choke hold on me. Ever since I left that fricken job (not by choice, but whatever) my outlook has improved dramatically, and I feel so much better. Now that I have finished my bachelor’s, another chunk out of that stress will be gone. I feel like a better person. Except when I think that it’s almost Christmas, and I haven’t had a job since October. If it weren’t for some generous people, my kids wouldn’t be getting Christmas presents this year. The less I think about what stresses me out and the more I try to find the happy side, the better I feel. You can call it a coincidence or something, but I believe that not having to deal with such a bad job has dramatically improved my happiness/optimism, and as a result, I can literally notice myself in better health.

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