Here’s Why Being Hopeful Is Good for Your Health
By Martha Michael
Life is filled with big, existential concerns such as health and safety no matter where you live in the world. When suffering the effects of negative circumstances that are out of your control, it can be helpful to search for flickers of hope because its presence can do more than just make you comfortable. Research shows that a hopeful optimism can play a part in improving both your mental and physical health when faced with adversity.
Hope and the Brain
Scientists have found a link between our physical brain and the presence of hope. Considered a “stable personality trait,” hope plays a part in shielding the brain from symptoms of anxiety, according to an article on BigThink.com. Defining hope as “goal-oriented expectations,” Chinese researchers identified the positive mindset of study participants through questionnaires applying the Dispositional Hope Scale, or DHS, and the Strait-Trait Anxiety Test. They found that individuals with high levels of the hope trait had lower activity in the bilateral medial orbitofrontal cortex area of the brain, which is involved in motivation, problem solving, reward-related procession, and goal-oriented behavior. They conclude that hope serves as a mediator between the brain and the effects of anxiety.
“Overall, this study provides the first evidence for functional brain substrates underlying trait hope and reveals a potential mechanism that trait hope mediates the protective role of spontaneous brain activity against anxiety,” the researchers say.
Hope in Coping With Illness
Though significant health challenges can lead some patients to feelings of hopelessness, the level to which they can raise their spirits may lead to better outcomes. There’s a strong relationship between hope and resilience that affects the prognosis of patients suffering from serious illnesses, according to an article on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website.
Defining hope as an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes, accessing hopefulness can incite a healthier immune system response and improve cortisol profiles and cardiovascular function.
Patients with less optimism tend to show more somatic (or physical) symptoms and have a greater probability of mortality.
Factors associated with resilience are:
- Internal locus of control
- Social support
- Personal growth
- Social support
- Coping strategies
- Cognitive appraisal
- Sense of coherence
In other words, feeling good about yourself is one way to help make yourself feel good.
Hope Through the Little Things
While stress and anxiety create very real emotional responses, finding reasons for hopefulness can alter your trajectory away from a downward spiral. An article by Healthline.com reminds you that appreciating the little things in life can promote a broader satisfaction that overshadows your circumstances.
Pursuing a more optimistic outlook can contribute to:
- Reduced pain
- Improved heart health
- Stronger immune system
- Longer life
There are many ways people find hope in the midst of life’s challenges, including relationships, practices such as yoga and meditation, or a commitment to religious faith. Choosing behaviors that turn your attention to the positive side of life enables you to gain access to the kind of appreciation that promotes good health.
Schedule regular chiropractic visits - People who include chiropractic care in their routine have a better understanding of their body’s needs and an ongoing record of their physical health. They maintain better range of motion, which enables them to stay active, and get relief from back, neck, and joint pain when it occurs.
Take walks - You get multiple benefits by getting outside for anything from a stroll to a robust hike. A change in atmosphere offers you fresh stimulation, plus you can access hope through the wonder of flowers, birds, and other aspects of communing with nature. Walking also relieves stress while incorporating healthy activity rather than more screen time.
Gaze at the stars - Aside from the beauty of constellations and promotion of profound thinking, getting people outdoors in “dark nature” has a positive effect on your perception and emotional sense of well-being, according to a paper posted by ResearchGate.
“This could allow people to cognitively increase the perceived amount of natural space available to them,” the report says. “Increased human activity in green spaces during nighttime hours may additionally help to reduce the sense of human threat and enable communities to reclaim areas considered to be unsafe.”
Taking notice of the advantages around you is always a good idea and it isn’t too difficult for those who live in a place where the crime rate is low and food and water are plentiful. Whether you’re hoping for a cure for disease or a better social schedule, the benefits of an optimistic outlook can lead to an improvement in your overall wellness, which can bring you a greater sense of peace. And that, too, is a reason for optimism.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this page are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this post is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, including but not limited to the benefits of chiropractic care, exercise and nutrition. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your chiropractor, physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this page.