Your State of Mind Really Does Matter to Your Health

Your emotional state of mind has a powerful effect on your state of health. Most of the past studies on this subject have focused on the negative effects linked between the two. Now at last, scientists are looking at the health benefits derived from a positive emotional state.

Being compassionate is good for the heart and stomach
Feeling compassion is to have love and concern for other people. A good example of a compassionate state of mind is expressed by the traditional Buddhist practice of loving-kindness meditation (LKM). LKM is a form of meditation in which you focus love and compassion on yourself and a progressively sizeable group of other people as well.

A study was conducted by psychologist Barbara Frederickson to study the positive impacts from six weeks of LKM training. The findings showed that participants who had practiced LKM had a positive effect on the resting tone of their vagus nerve. This nerve extends from the brain stem down to the heart. It plays a role in the regulation of emotions and the digestive and cardiovascular systems.

“In a way, our bodies are designed for love, because the more we love, the more healthy we become,” said Frederickson.

Feelings of joyfulness and wonder reduce inflammatory markers
Feelings of joyfulness, wonder, and awe can give us a sense of connection with something that seems greater than ourselves. Whether it is through religious experiences or witnessing unparalleled natural beauty, the sensation benefits our bodies by lowering inflammatory markers.

state of mindResearch from the University of California, Berkeley found that participants who had recently felt a sense of awe had decreased levels of cytokines. These cytokines are inflammatory markers that in chronically elevated levels are sometimes an indicator of autoimmune diseases, heart disease, depression, and Alzheimer’s. So it is conceivable that experiencing awe can help prevent some diseases.

“Rather than seeing a walk through the park or a trip to the museum as an indulgence, we hope people will view these kinds of experiences as important ways to promote a healthy body in addition to a healthy mind,” explained co-author Dr. Jennifer Stellar, Ph.D.

Being optimistic is good for your heart
True optimism is about more than having a smile on your face. Having an optimistic state of mind allows you to look beyond the challenges and obstacles you face by believing that eventually things will work out in your favor.

A 2012 review of scientific studies on optimistic personalities and cardiovascular risks revealed a correlation between optimism and decreased risks for cardiovascular events. Another recent study on Twitter posts found a correlation between heart attack deaths and the frequency of Twitter posts with negative language. Optimism is also linked with longer life spans and improved immune system functions.

Gratefulness can boost the immune system
“Thousands of years of literature talk about the benefits of cultivating gratefulness as a virtue,” said psychology professor, Robert Emmons from the University of California, Davis. “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations.”

An outlook of gratitude has been linked with improved immune system function and better quality of sleep. It can also reduce levels of stress, which is a factor in many chronic diseases.

-The Alternative Daily

Sources:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/16/optimism-heart-health_n_6744052.html
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/emotional-wellbeing/mental-healthmind-body-connection-how-your-emotions-affect-your-health.html
http://www.webmd.com/women/features/gratitute-health-boost
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marc-b-levin/mind-body_b_1159523.html

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