Most of us are aware of the many factors which can impact our health, both in a positive and negative way. From nutrition to exercise/fitness habits, to smoking and the use of alcohol, to our overall health maintenance and prevention. However, perhaps one of the biggest impacts on our overall health is our mindset, what and how we think, and our overall attitude. Gratitude, the “quality of being thankful and the readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness” is not something most of us think can impact our health, but studies show our overall mindset and emotional wellbeing can play a huge role in a person’s overall health and wellbeing.
We all deal with stress and difficult situations daily and being thankful and appreciative for the challenges life presents us is not how most of us cope with such challenges. Furthermore, when we are faced with a new medical diagnosis, be it diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or high blood pressure most of us do not view this diagnosis as something to be grateful or appreciative of. However, our attitude and mindset can have an impact on how our bodies adjust and cope with such medical challenges.
Anger, resentment, frustration, hostility, and blaming can have negative impacts on our overall health. They can increase our blood pressure and heart rate, affect our sleep and quality of rest, and can also lead to stress and issues with our home life all of which can cause negative health consequences. When we consistently focus our energies on the negative in life and have a negative attitude, ultimately it can impact our health and wellbeing. When our hearts and minds are full of resentment and anger it has the potential to make our underlying diagnoses and disease management much more difficult, all of which can affect the long-term consequences.
Thus, it is imperative we are aware of how we think and view life and its challenges daily. When we are hopeful, when we have a good attitude despite the pain and suffering life can deal us, and when we can avoid being resentful and blaming it can help our overall health in the long term. Having such outlooks when faced with scary and unknown health issues is not an easy feat for any of us. However, we need to try to focus on the positives and maintain a hopeful attitude during these times. Having such outlooks can improve our overall sleep patterns and eating habits and help avoid depression and anxiety and their negative impacts. Positive thinking impacts those around us including our families which can improve our support structures and home life all of which can ultimately have a positive effect on our management of chronic health issues. If you are a religious or spiritual person, relying on our faith and leaning on our church family can improve our overall perspective and ultimately have positive health consequences.
So, it is important to be aware of how our attitudes and thoughts can impact our overall health. Trying to be grateful and gracious in the face of challenge and uncertainty will make us happier and more hopeful. If we can focus on thinking positive and having a good attitude, it not only will it make our lives more palatable for ourselves and those around us, it could very well lead to overall improved health and disease management, all of which could lead to a longer, more fruitful life.
I challenge each of you to find something positive every day and to find something daily to be grateful for. It can be as small as being thankful you have food to eat or a home to live in. It does not have to involve something monumental when focusing on our gratefulness. But focusing on such positives will, in the end, lead to improved overall health and happiness.
Dr. Trisha Dipprey
Trusted ER Uptown