As Britons stay indoors to help curb the spread of infection, and news of the death toll keeps on mounting – for many – this is a distressing time. But staying optimistic may be key to outlive this pandemic.
Researchers from the Indiana State University School of Nursing concluded that “laughter may reduce stress and improve NK cell activity”.
They explained: “Low NK cell activity is linked to decreased disease resistance and increased morbidity.”
Another research study put on by the Duke University Medical Center found that optimists tend to outlive pessimists.
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A total of 7,007 students in the 1960s completed the “optimism-pessimism (PSM) scale derived from Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory scores, as a predictor of all-cause mortality”.
During the 40-year follow-up, 476 deaths occurred. The results confirmed that pessimistic individuals had decreased rates of longevity.
The researchers concluded: “A measure of optimistic vs pessimistic explanatory style was a significant predictor of survival during a 40-year follow-up period such that optimists had increased longevity.”
It’s key to take from this that a positive outlook on life is linked to living longer.
Such a frame of mind may be difficult for some people to achieve, but stress and anxiety have been shown to decrease people’s life expectancies.
The Center of Research on Psychology in Somatic diseases, at Tilburg University, stated: “Anxiety predicted premature all-cause and cardiovascular death in middle-aged women.”
Their study involved 5,073 Dutch women aged between 46 to 54 years old who lived in Eindhoven.
The participants completed a three-item anxiety scale, asking them if they felt “anxious/worried”, “scared/panicky”, or if they ruminated “about things that went wrong”.
After 10 years there was a follow-up study that measured all-case mortality.
The researchers found that anxiety was associated with a 77 percent increase in mortality risk, such as lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The Department of Public Health Medicine, at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, concluded that “perceived mental stress was associated with increased mortality from stroke for women, and with contrary heart disease for men and women.”
The results came from a lifestyle questionnaire from a total of 73, 424 people – aged 40 to 79 – without a history of stroke, coronary heart disease to cancer.
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It then proceeded to do a follow-up and found that women who reported high stress had a “two-fold” risk of mortality from stroke and coronary heart disease.
Combined, all these research findings point to a link between a positive frame of mind and a longer, healthier life.
How can you help to alleviate your mood during such trying times? If you can, definitely make the most of your once daily exercise outside.
Exercise is a known mood booster – yes, after the long slog – the body will release endorphins, which are known as the “happy chemicals”.
Although it can be easy to gorge on sweets, chocolate, biscuits and cakes on the sofa while adhering to social distancing and self-isolation measures, try not to indulge too much.
This is likely to lead to a sugar crash, and can affect your mood in a negative way.
Good nutrition will help nourish your body in the right way – providing you with beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Take good care of yourself, and look on the bright side of life, it’ll add years to your life.
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