Laura Kubzansky, Harvard professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences, sums it up best when she says that being involved in the moment, finding a restorative state is the best way to relieve life’s burden and stay healthy.
Kubzansky is one of the many researchers doing groundbreaking work on “toxic stress” and the effect it has on the body – over time illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, depression, and other serious conditions are all impacted by stress. While the “biology of emotion” is not a new phenomenon, studies linking it to specific conditions are becoming more relevant.
Kubzansky believes that depression and anxiety, as well as optimism and happiness, are, of course, a combination of nature and nurture. She estimates that 40-50% are the result of nature, i.e. genetic predisposition. This still means a significant amount of our attitudes may be controllable – these attitudes can affect our health in a dramatic manner.
It is not simply a matter of “don’t worry, be happy” – these are characteristics that are life perspectives that allow people to deal with stress with more emotional balance.
Kubzansky’s research, combined with others who are looking into this, indicates that cornerstones of non-toxic thinking include supportive networks of friends and family; a sense of hopefulness, optimism, and engagement with life; choosing healthy behaviors and avoiding unhealthy behaviors (smoking, overeating).
In a 2012 study, Kubzansky and Julia K. Boehn found that positive psychological well-being reduces the risks of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular problems. The research suggests that positive individuals reduce the risk by as much as 50%.
Another researcher at the forefront is Judith Moskowitz, a professor of Social Sciences at Northwestern University. Her work with diabetes patients is particularly of note. In January of 2008, she and two of her colleagues published research which asserts that “positive affects” lower risks of mortality in people with diabetes. In 2014, she did some follow up work that noted there are 8 skills that demonstrate positive coping: meditating; noticing and remembering positive events; savoring these positive events; gratitude; statements of self-affirmation; preforming acts of kindness; setting attainable goals; and positive reappraisal.
It turns out that seeing the glass as half full, not half empty may be more than just an adage – it may help you to live a longer and happier life.
Martin Oaks staff encourages you to share your thoughts and experiences on this topic. If you have any questions, or are in need of our services please do not hesitate to contact us at (469)605-7215, 24/7.