Women’s Wellness: Can Optimism Boost Women’s Lives?

From Mayo Clinic News Network
Mayo Clinic News Network

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Can a good mood be better for your health? A new study reveals too much stress can often lead to a fight or flight response which can elevate blood pressure, affecting physical health as well as a person’s pessimistic or optimistic approach to a given situation.

Mayo Clinic News Network

Women who are more optimistic have a better chance of living longer.

A recent study found they have a reduced risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and infection, than women who are less optimistic.

Dr. Richa Sood, an internist at Mayo Clinic who was not involved in the study, says: “There were about 70,000 women in this particular study and what they were trying to figure out was if the women self-reported optimism at a certain point in their life, downstream were they less likely to die if they were more optimistic.

They found that there was about a 30 percent reduction in the risk of dying if women were in the highest quartile for optimism compared to those who were in the lowest quartile.”

Sood says too much stress can often lead to a fight or flight response, which can elevate blood pressure, affecting physical health as well as a person’s pessimistic or optimistic approach to a given situation.

“There’s a concept of heart rate variability, which is a measure of how relaxed we are. That goes down. That is the cardiovascular link and why we can start having more cardiovascular problems,” Sood says. “That’s why optimistic people are less likely to go in that mode because they are not triggering their sympathetic response as much, and they’re not really pumping their cortisol as much.”

She adds, in general, optimistic people are less likely to be stressed, because they focus on positive emotions and have some sense of control in situations.

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