It’s often said that a positive attitude helps one to live a better life. In fact, there is science behind it and it’s called the mind-body concept, or psychoneuroimmunology (PNI for short). PNI is the study of the ways in which emotions and the mind, whether positive or negative, affect the body’s physical health and response to medical treatment. It’s not only the study of the mind and body but also the body’s relationship to the world.
Scientists noticed early on that stress, and how people deal with it, greatly affects their ability to fight disease and recover from medical treatments. For example, studies have shown that depressed women were less able to fight off disease. Their bodies had lower activity of natural “killer” cells, as opposed to women who were more optimistic. In general, women who claimed to have a greater amount of happiness in life had a better survival rate from chronic diseases.
Scientists have also found that the body will actually mobilize its defenses against disease and injury more effectively when a person has a more upbeat attitude. In short, positive people become sick less. On the other hand, negative thinking can repress the immune system, causing it to not work as well as it could. That’s because the brain controls the release of certain hormones through the endocrine system. Negative thinking can actually cause the release of hormones that have a negative effect on the immune system’s cells, and their ability to divide. As a result, then the immune function is less effective, making a person more susceptible to illness.
For seniors especially, it is important to identify the source of stress and work to eliminate it from their daily lives. Yes, that is more easily said than done but it is very possible!
- Relaxation techniques and breathing exercises are effective outlets to vent anger and frustration in order to reduce stress.
- Muscle stretching is very effective in reducing the tension that can be held in the face, neck, shoulders, and back.
- Meditation on a regular basis has been shown to reduce fatigue in general. It can also reduce the stress which typically leads to heart attacks and strokes.
Above all, it’s important to recognize that negative feelings are just as natural as positive ones. It is okay to feel angry, sad, or frustrated. Simply being aware of these feelings make them easier to deal with. It’s called “safer stress.” Then, finding a technique, or multiple techniques, that work to reduce the stress will improve health. LivHOME realizes that seniors experience many different types of stress. That is why we provide support for the seniors and their caregivers. It is our mission to ensure our staff and seniors are receiving the care and life they deserve. Find out more at www.livhome.com.