Science Says Optimism Is the Secret to Healthy Aging
While seeing the world through rose-colored glasses can be easier said than done, it could actually contribute to healthy aging. According to Boston University School of Medicine researchers, staying optimistic about life can help people avoid health risks, per their new study published in the Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. "This study tests one possible explanation, assessing if more optimistic people handle daily stress more constructively and therefore enjoy better emotional well-being," said Lewina Lee, PhD, a corresponding author and a clinical psychologist at the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder at the VA Boston Healthcare System, in a university release.
The researchers studied 233 senior men over 14 years to get to their findings on how being optimistic can lead to boosts in health. Those in the study filled out an optimism questionnaire before detailing their stressors each day during this time period. Study participants noted their positive and negative emotions throughout eight consecutive nights three different times during eight years of the study. The team discovered that the men in the study who were optimistic had less occurrences of being in a negative mental state and experienced less stressors.
Based on previous studies, stress is known to have an adverse impact on health, such as increased inflammation, which can boost aging at a rapid rate and increase chances of dementia. This new study uncovered how optimism is connected to increasing health benefits, as opposed to the previous studies.
"Stress, on the other hand, is known to have a negative impact on our health. By looking at whether optimistic people handle day-to-day stressors differently, our findings add to knowledge about how optimism may promote good health as people age," said Lee.