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Why Positivity Is Good for Heart Health

Why Positivity Is Good for Heart Health

Posted by on Jun 13th 2023

Don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking–at least that’s what the experts are saying when it comes to your heart health. Having a cheerier outlook on life appears to improve your quality of life in a number of ways. So, let’s take a closer look at what the studies have shown and how you can implement certain practices in your life to reap the heart-related benefits of positivity.

How A Positive Mindset Can Help

Experts claim that a positive mindset can help reinforce positive behaviors that support a healthy heart–what some refer to as an “upward spiral”. This means that a positive outlook can lead more people to exercise and eat healthier, which then makes the person feel better and quickly turns into a positive feedback loop.

On the contrary, Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist explains that negative thinking can be the result of excess stress in the mind and body, which can impact major bodily functions, like the heart. This is because when we are stressed, blood flow to the heart slows, which can have profound health implications.

While the exact connection between positivity and heart health is still being investigated, there is now a growing amount of solid proof that the link exists.

What Does the Science Show?

In a 2022 study done by The American Journal of Medicine, they found that there is a link between optimism and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Experts pooled findings from about 182,000 people over six separate studies to come to their conclusion.

In the end, they drew the link from the assumptions that happier or more optimistic people may be more likely to exercise, eat healthier, and have better sleep habits–thus having positive effects on their heart health.

A different study completed by Johns Hopkins expert Lisa R. Yanek, M.P.H. and colleagues showed that people with a family history of heart disease who had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event in the next 5-25 years compared to those with a more negative mindset.

Even in the general population, people with a positive mindset were 13% less likely to have a heart attack or related coronary event compared to negative people.

Putting This Into Practice

For those who don’t have a positive mindset naturally, there are things they can do to help improve their mental state, and thus their heart health.

Experts at Harvard recommend a number of small practices to build a more positive mindset. This includes things like performing acts of kindness, expressing gratitude, and highlighting your personal strengths. Similarly, Dr. Kopecky recommends thinking of three things you’re grateful for before you go to bed or when you first wake up in the morning.

Emily Feig, a clinical psychologist in the Cardiac Psychiatry Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital explains that writing a letter of gratitude to someone that you’re grateful for can provide more benefits than just thinking about your gratitude.

These experts are aware that negative things happen to us each week; however, they explain that we still have the opportunity to recognize the positive things that occurred as well for better heart health.