Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cultivate a Positive Outlook for a Healthy Mind and a Healthy Body.

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it.

~Mary Engelbreit

So often time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key.

~The Eagles, "Already Gone"

It is easy to fall a victim to negativity. When you are in the trenches with live bullets whizzing over your foxhole, you may consider yourself a victim and feel helpless. If things are not going our way, the line of least resistance is to fall prey to pessimism. A little stress is good for us. However, unrelenting pessimism, when sustained for a long time produces its own chemicals like the stress hormone cortisol that can shrink our brain, depress our immune system and our way of thinking. Studies in the Institute of Mental Health in the Netherland showed that over a 15-year period, older people with positive attitude to life were half as likely to have heart disease as those who held pessimistic views. This occurred regardless of their initial state of health.

Other evidence in favor of the positive attitudes to life is from the Nun's study. The study of nuns in Minnesota showed the nuns who had positive attitudes to life during their adolescent and young adulthood were the healthiest during their adulthood. The Alternative approach to these difficult interludes in our lives is to "see the bless in the mess." Positive thinking lowers the levels of stress hormone cortisol. The effects of the cortisol on the immune system and the brain are counteracted by the hormone DHEA which starts to decline by age 30, declining to less than 20% of their maximum by age 70. A study at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, reveals that older men with high levels of cortisol have smaller anterior cingulated cortices. Studies have linked the shrinkage of this part of the brain with Alzheimer disease and depression in older people. Researchers think stress causes this.

It appears therefore that a positive attitude is life saving. It reduces the stress hormones, preserves our brains and save them from the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease. Learning to laugh at yourself and with your friends are positive traits that help the brain fights disease. Hence, try to create humor in your life and don't take everything seriously, for we are not here forever. One day we will go to sleep and not wake up. I do not think it would be any different from having a deep sleep and a peaceful rest. So prepare yourself to welcome it as another phase of your life. That way, you decrease stress in your life.

To reduce further stress, in addition to exercising (which builds the brain cells), find time to meditate and have a belief system that gives you hope. Practicing your belief system regularly will help calm your mind, give you a positive attitude and cut down the production of the harmful steroid, cortisol, which can wreak havoc on your brain. Praying, Yoga, Tai chi, deep breathing exercises with progressive relaxation can produce the relaxation response that can cut down the level of cortisol in your blood stream to prevent it from destroying your brain cells. Concentrate on eating foods that can feed the brain. Hence, eat a lot of fish or walnuts that contain omega 3 acids. You may also take omega 3 fatty acid capsules twice daily to feed the brain as aging decreases this essential brain elixir. This way you can live a healthy and enjoyable life.

"I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination."

Jimmy Dean


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