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Optimism’s Health Benefits

Well-intentioned yet completely misguided friends, family members, and even strangers often say that all it takes to get rid of your headaches is to “think positive.” You won’t be surprised to learn that this infuriates me. Headaches are a physiological illness that can’t be whisked away with happy thoughts.

Yet there’s evidence that the outcome of being optimistic about your diagnosis and treatment is better than if you are pessimistic. Optimism isn’t about thinking positive or pretending the illness doesn’t exist. Instead, it’s someone who “takes action through health-enhancing behaviors, even under very stressful circumstances. . . . Pessimists may create more distress for themselves by distorting, denying and avoiding the situation.”

This information is from Accentuate the Positive: How Optimism Can Boost Your Health, an article in the the National Women’s Health Resource Center‘s October newsletter. The article goes beyond telling you to be an optimistic to recommendations for making changes in your own life. Mainly it’s a matter of changing the way you cope so that you problem-solve instead of shutting down in the face of illness.

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