Tag Archives: Bible

Welcome in the New You

“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.”

A fresh start!  We all appreciate that. Some even crave it. A new year can be the catalyst for a healthy turn-around as we focus our best efforts on what’s important to our well-being.

There is nothing magical in flipping the calendar.  But there is something appealing about closing the door on unhealthy behaviors and their consequences.  A healthy, new beginning can result when one gives him or herself permission to leave behind past failings.  The next step is to solidify in some practical manner the positive steps required to achieve our wellness goals.

Positive health is an emerging concept that an interdisciplinary team is investigating with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  This pioneering approach to health promotes patients’ health assets while focusing on key factors that include subjective influences like optimism.  This can add to a healthier and longer life according to the organization.

But what happens when optimism wanes? Read more…

Take a cup of kindness this year

“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.”

A fresh start!  A rebirth! Renewal! We can get behind that!  A new year can spur us on to a healthy turn-around as we focus our best efforts on what’s important to our well-being.

cropped-HealthInkLogo-1.jpg There is nothing magical in flipping the calendar.  But there is something appealing about closing the door on unhealthy behaviors and their consequences.  A healthy, new beginning can result when one gives himself or herself permission to leave behind past failings.  The next step is to solidify in some practical manner the positive steps required to achieve our wellness goals.

Positive health is an emerging concept that an interdisciplinary team is investigating with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  This approach to health promotes patients’ health assets while focusing on key factors that include subjective influences like optimism.  This can add to a healthier and longer life according to the organization.

But what happens when optimism wanes?  Read more…

A Positive Attitude is a Healthy Choice

iStock photo
iStock photo

“I am only grouchy and moody on days that end in Y.”

My family and I were walking the sidewalks of the Big Apple eons ago when without warning…pow!  A woman smacked right into me, startling us both.  Before I could get out an apology, she blurted out, “Watch where you’re walking, child!”  I stopped myself before the words could form, “Geez, what a grouch!”

She was a character and decades later I vividly remember her cantankerous demeanor.  Her abrupt remark hurt more than the accidental collision.

As I’ve aged I’ve tried to become an adult who is upbeat, no matter how difficult the day. But, there are those times when it seems I, like many of us, just can’t control my disposition.

What kind of mood are you in today? Your response has health implications. Maintaining a positive attitude influences longevity and boosts brain power in older adults.

One study of 660 Ohioans over 50 found people with more positive attitudes about aging lived an average 7.5 years longer than those with more negative outlooks. That’s significant.  In fact according to the researchers a positive mood about aging has greater impact on longevity than any one of the following:

  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Lowered cholesterol
  • Exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Not smoking

As reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, authors of the study offer two conclusions.  One “is that negative self-perceptions can diminish life expectancy.”  The other “is that positive self-perception can prolong life expectancy.”

A good attitude does not stop there.  Another study supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation and appearing in the journal Cognition and Emotion, connects the power of positive mood with aiding older people in decision making and working memory. And this is important since maintaining their independence – the most important thing to most elderly – is heavily dependent on being able to remember what they need to do and to make sound decisions.

According to Ellen Peters, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at The Ohio State University, “Given the current concern about cognitive declines in the aged, our findings are important for showing how simple methods to improve mood can help improve cognitive functioning and decision performance in older adults, just like they do in younger people.”

You have to consider, with research results like these, the degree of influence one wields over his/her own health and wellness.  Thoughts, emotions, outlook are all shown to impact physical and mental health.  And control over these factors lies within each of us.

Keeping thoughts and emotions in check and maintaining a bright outlook has long been the purview of religiosity, faith, and spirituality.  Turning to God has been a natural inclination for generations of believers when dealing with life’s trials, not only for coping purposes, but also for healing these issues. The concept/principle underneath “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee” – i.e. calm thought focused on the divine results in good – is health enhancing whether it comes from the Bible or some other sacred text.

January is Mental Wellness Month. Promoters of the observance suggest several strategies in helping to preserve mental balance and reduce stress.  First on the list is “Develop a positive attitude.”  Second: “Avoid negative self-talk”.

What we think and how we act are things we can monitor and adjust. When the daily grind or clashes with others puts us out of sorts we can stop rehearsing the negative impulses and concentrate on the good in our lives. It’s better than being a grouch any day of the week.

 

Steven Salt is a writer and blogger about health, spirituality and thought.  He is a Christian Science practitioner, curious about everything.  You can follow him on Twitter @SaltSeasoned.

A New Year, a New You?

iStock photo
iStock photo

“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.”

A fresh start!  We all appreciate that. Some even crave it. A new year can be the catalyst for a healthy turn-around as we focus our best efforts on what’s important to our well-being.

There is nothing magical in flipping the calendar.  But there is something appealing about closing the door on unhealthy behaviors and their consequences.  A healthy, new beginning can result when one gives him or herself permission to leave behind past failings.  The next step is to solidify in some practical manner the positive steps required to achieve our wellness goals.

Positive health is an emerging concept that an interdisciplinary team is investigating with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  This pioneering approach to health promotes patients’ health assets while focusing on key factors that include subjective influences like optimism.  This can add to a healthier and longer life according to the organization.

But what happens when optimism wanes? Read more…

Nocebos: the Murphy’s law of medicine

iStock photo
iStock photo

“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Law or not, the old adage points to the negative expectations we sometime fall victim to whether merited or not. In medicine it might be called the nocebo effect.

We’ve all heard about the positive influence of placebos: take a pill with no active ingredients whatsoever and a healing response ensues anyway.  A nocebo is an ill effect caused by the suggestion or belief that something is harmful.  Think of it as the placebo’s sinister counterpart.

Researching the influence of nocebos on an individual’s health has lagged behind the study of placebos. Experts are just beginning to understand their importance through clinical studies.  These investigations point to a robust mental component when taking into account health maintenance and outcomes.

“For better or worse, our minds are as much a part of treatment as the pills and therapies we receive,” according to Matthew D. Erlich, M.D. and Lloyd I. Sederer, M.D. in, Should HealthCare Providers Be Afraid of the ‘Nocebo’ Effect?, published in the Huffington Post.

Expecting the worst after a treatment (which seems to be a common response) can actually make the patient feel worse.  Thus, doctors, nurses and other hospital staff are increasing their commitment to helping patients avoid the nocebo effect.

Case in point: the findings of researchers from Oxford University studying pain levels in patients.  Simply telling a patient the painkiller he had been given had worn off increased the person’s pain to the same levels before the drug was administered, according to a study by Irene Tracey and her associates.

Penny Sarchet discusses these findings in her winning essay, The nocebo effect: Wellcome Trust science writing prize.  From these results she concludes, “That a patient’s negative expectations have the power to undermine the effectiveness of a treatment, and suggests that doctors would do well to treat the beliefs of their patients, not just their physical symptoms.”

Sarchet points out an interesting dichotomy.  Doctors have a moral and legal responsibility to disclose the numerous side effects of the treatments they prescribe.  However, in doing so, they could be negating the very benefits they hope to confer due to the negative expectations brought on by divulging the side effects to the patient.  It’s a catch-22.

With the proliferation of sickly symptoms and so many new illnesses coming to the attention of the public, one has to wonder to what extent nocebo-induced conditions are swaying an individual’s health.

I recall once being told I looked tired.  Although I felt fine the comment bothered me to the point I soon began to feel limp and listless.

Looking back at that experience, I see the effect my thinking had over how I was feeling.  My expectation – and how I felt – changed due to the negative comment.  But other experiences and my own spiritual practice tell me we don’t have to submit to “Murphy’s law” thinking.

“I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse,” says Paul, Bible hero and healer.

That’s how I start my prayer – which helps to improve my mental outlook and my physical health.

Attitude, expectation and anxiety: these mental qualities do have sway over how you feel. When worry, dread, and apprehension are troubling you it’s time to eliminate “Murphy’s law” of negatives from your thinking.