Though some doctors discourage using mind-body techniques and other thought processes without any use of medication, studies have shown that a person’s attitude and emotional state play key roles in the prevention of and recovery from illness.
Apparently, the mind and the immune system are closely related. Read on to learn how you can use your mind to your own personal advantage.
Effects of Positive Outlook on Immunity
It’s true that close relationships with friends and family seem to have significant beneficial effects on the immune system. For example, married people tend to live longer than those who are single or divorced. There are even studies that have linked happiness and positive emotions to longer survival among cancer patients.
Specifically, in one study 86 women with advanced breast cancer were divided into two groups – one of which was given standard medical care, while the other received medical care plus weekly group therapy sessions for coping. The second group, who had medical care and group therapy, lived almost twice as long as the first group.
In a similar study involving melanoma patients where stress management training was coupled with medical care, patients suffered far less distress over their diagnoses than those who only received medical care, their immune systems were stronger, and their survival rate was even greater. Furthermore, there was a greater trend among those who only received medical care to have a recurrence of the disease.
Though it’s true that having a sense of control, hopefulness and loving support are more critical factors in healing, something as simple as laughter can also affect immunity. Laughing can reduce levels of adrenaline and cortisol in the bloodstream, two substances produced in abundance in stressful situations that suppress immunity.
So it’s important to keep a positive outlook on life, laugh to your heart’s content, stay connected and foster warm, close relationships as much as possible. It may seem like a small thing, but positive connectivity is very beneficial to your health.
Effects of Negative Emotions on Immunity
On the other hand, negative outlook and emotions can hamper the immune system. Certain forms of hostility, like cynicism and mistrust, are associated with higher mortality. Likewise, people who are either too angry or who never express their anger may be at a higher risk of mortality. Studies have shown that very hostile people tend to have lower natural killer-cell activity, meaning they are more susceptible to illness (especially viral diseases and cancer). People who are often under stress are more likely to develop colds, for example.
So be good to your body and keep those negative emotions in check. You should have an outlet to express anger, however, so that it doesn’t build up and create a toxic environment within the body. Often times, simply being assertive and defending yourself regularly will keep anger under control and literally get it out of your system.