The power of positivity: How optimism, surroundings can prolong your life

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — If you do a google search on “the power of positive thinking,” you’ll find countless benefits and motivational quotes, but what about the research and science backing up all those claims? News 8 is taking a closer look at what doctors say could prolong your life.

We all have things that motivate us in life. For Julianna Frisch, it’s family.

“When I go to the gym in the morning, I think about my son and my husband,” she said. “When I eat broccoli for lunch, I think about my son and my husband.”

Frisch had a heart attack about a year ago, forcing her to make healthier choices. Not only did she start eating better and exercising, she listened to her doctor’s advice to be more optimistic.

“I tell my patients to be happy, to take care of themselves, take out some time for themselves,” explains Dr. Uzma IqBal, a Cardiologist with Rochester Regional Health.

There are numerous studies linking positive thinking to better health and a longer life. Doctor IqBal spoke with us about the latest research from Harvard.

“We’ve always been focusing on how we can make our bodies healthy and now these studies are looking at you know how can we make our psychological resilience affect our bodies and our health,” Dr. IqBal said.

According to Harvard researchers, chronic stress can lead to: higher blood pressure, inflammation, elevated cholesterol, greater risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and more.

Dr. Iqbal says it’s worth all the time and effort it takes to become a more positive person.

“It’s a learned behavior. What they’re finding is the people that were happier, they want to take care of all these things and their bodies change,” she said.

Dr. Iqbal recommends cognitive therapy and meditation.

“There are a lot of apps that can help you meditate. The one that I have used and I have recommended to my patience is called calm,” Dr. Iqbal said.

Other recommendations:

  • Show gratitude. Research has shown over and over again that praciticing gratitude can reduce stress. They recommend keeping a journal filled with all the things you’re thankful for!
  • Be optimistic. Experts say when you face challenges imagine the best possible outcomes and then set goals to meet those expectations
  • Find your sense of purpose. Researchers say a higher sense of purpose is linked to a 23-percent lower rate of death.

“You can increase your optimism level if you surround yourself with positive people,” Dr. Iqbal said.

She says do what you can to separate yourself from negative people

“You have to set your boundaries,” Dr. Iqbal said. “You know you get one life and take care of your body and your mind. Always look at the brighter side of things.”

Orders from the doctor that Julianna Fisch is now following.

“Because I want that one more day, one more hour, one more minute with my family,” Fisch said.

That’s reason enough to be positive!

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