We’ve long known that your attitude towards life affects your overall health. Now there’s evidence that shows that your attitude specifically affects the health of your heart. This is great news for cardiac patients, because it means that actively cultivating a positive perspective can have a big impact on your heart health and general wellness.
The study, published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes1, demonstrated that amongst patients with heart disease, having a positive attitude was linked to a longer life, and a greater likelihood of consistent exercise.
One of the study’s authors, Professor Susanne S. Pedersen, suggested a two-pronged approach to optimizing heart patients’ health: “We should focus not only on increasing positive attitude in cardiac rehabilitation, but also make sure that patients perform exercise on a regular basis, as exercise is associated with both increased levels of optimism and better health.”
Of course, when one is in the throes of disease or a medical event, it can be hard to keep your perspective positive, and all too easy to dwell in the doldrums. So, for those who may be discouraged and down about their heart health – or indeed, anyone who is struggling to accentuate the positive – what are the best ways to cultivate an optimistic attitude and create a better platform for health?
Here are three tips, guaranteed to put a smile on your dial.
- Make gratitude your default way of thinking.
Having an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is not just a sappy greeting-card sentiment. It is a scientifically proven method of increasing your overall feelings of wellbeing. While there is the tried-and-true method of the ‘gratitude journal’, for those looking for a new way to give thanks daily, there are some great apps out there such as Gratitude Journal 365, which allow you to digitally record your moments of gratitude. Even better, this app lets you set an alarm, so you can be reminded to follow through on this all-important habit daily.
- Actively create your social support network. Regular connection and engagement with people you love is another scientifically proven way to boost your mood and increase your longevity. This can be as simple as scheduling a coffee date with a friend, phoning your mom, or planning a date night with your partner. For those without existing support networks, joining a ready-made group of people (such as a sporting club, a book club, or an interest group) is an excellent way to jump-start the friendship process. You can also think outside the box, and look for events being held in your local area where likeminded people will be found, such as a workshop, a fun run, or a cooking class.
- Schedule moments of quiet contemplation throughout your day. Meditators have been shown to have health benefits ranging from increased cognitive capacity and immunity, to decreased stress and inflammation (and that’s just for starters). Yet the thought of twenty minutes spent in silent meditation is enough to send some people running for the hills. But quiet contemplation and reflection doesn’t need to be daunting or overwhelming. By simply stepping away from your computer screen and taking three deep, conscious, diaphragmatic breaths, you can activate your parasympathetic nervous system and trigger the relaxation response. Try linking this practice to an activity you perform regularly throughout the day, for example, every time you type in a password or open your internet browser. Lots of little moments of consciousness can add up to big effects on your perception of life.And when all else fails? Exercise is the best mood-booster around. For people struggling to get motivated to move, I recommend keeping a pair of sports shoes in your car to take advantage of spontaneous exercise opportunities. Even just ten minutes of power-walking after fitting in the grocery shopping can lift your mood and enhance your feelings of positivity.So next time you’re overwhelmed by life and can feel your attitude spiraling towards the darker end of the spectrum, try one of these proven strategies to lift yourself back up. Your heart will thank you for it! http://circoutcomes.ahajournals.org/Rosemarie Beltz is the creator and director of the Heart Health Concierge, a prestige health coaching service offering heart-smart health advice to clients all around the world. As a cardiac perfusionist for more than 18 years (currently practicing in a hospital in Los Angeles, California) and certified health coach (graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City), she is uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between the world of western medicine and holistic health. You can connect with Rosemarie at the Heart Health Concierge [www.marprana.com], on facebook at [https://www.facebook.com/hearthealthconcierge] follow her on Twitter [https://twitter.com/marprana] and Youtube [https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-X8APOL12PU1SI0-A3ICJG].