And Our Health
Research has shown that our mental attitudes have a profound
effect on our physical health too.
A population group that has been very thoroughly
researched are the people of the islands of Okinawa in Southern Japan.They have
a large amount of elders in the population, people in their nineties, who are
amazing us with their overall health. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood
pressure or arthritis are rare in these people, the rates of these illnesses are
much lower than in the Japanese population and lower than in North America. One
part of their health may be found in their food habits, but a significant other
part can be found in their mindset. We are prone to suffer as a result of
our behaviour patterns: people who constantly hurry, rush, and push
themselves (and others) to be faster, better, smarter, and blow
up, when things are not going according to their liking, are more likely to come
down with health problems. Many of them are more prone to get a heart attack.
This personality is also known as type A personality.
behaviour patterns of this type A population group sets the stage for destructive
effects and an unhealthy approach to life.
In contrast to this the Okinawans
tend to be type B personalities. They do not suffer
from the western hurry sickness. It is a fallacy to believe, that only type A
persons are achievers. In the long run, a type B person will achieve
as much or more than a driven type A individual.
have a strong social support system. Social support
enables people to weather stressful passages in life, which otherwise would be
a very lonely journey. We can follow this example: connect with family and friends.If
our relationships are kept alive and well, they can sustain us through major stresses
and minor hassles (Ref.3, p.238).
is a major problem in our society. Social support can make a difference, but it
must be emphasized, that it is a condition that has to be treated. There can be
psychological and physical reasons, and untreated it can be one of the most crippling
diseases. People with depression are about three times as likely to die of heart
disease than people who do not suffer of depression. They are also more likely
to run into problems with their immune system. If you are depressed or one of
your loved ones is affected by depression seek help, and don't delay it!There
are other attitudes that associate with mental fitness.Optimists live
longer than pessimists (Ref.4, p.13-14). Mayo Clinic studies followed a group
of people for 30 years who had a pessimistic outlook on life. 19 % of the pessimists
were more likely to have an early death as compared to the positive individuals
(Ref. 3, p. 239).
Anger and hostility
are not only emotions that make your life and that of others miserable. Hostile
individuals are on a potential suicide mission. They are five times more at a
risk to die before the age of fifty than people who are not hostile and get mad
at the drop of a hat!
Anger and hostility become risk factors for heart
disease.You can learn to avoid escalations into rage attacks and shouting matches,
you can re-think a statement instead of blowing up.You can also learn to laugh
at a situation.If anger becomes an obstacle which is too big to handle, you may
benefit from cognitive therapy and counselling. Remember: you do not have to embark
alone on a difficult journey!
Concentrate and support the positive,
and don't make it a habit to expect disaster. As an example: you may
want to stop watching the eleven o'clock news before you go to sleep.
Often you are not hearing or seeing wonderful things that contribute to a restful
Put humor into your life. Laughter helps
to release sentiments of frustrations and releases endorphins, the"feel-good
hormones". Humor also helps us cope with the unavoidable stressors which
we encounter in day to day living.
And finally be affectionate and emphatic
(without conditions attached) towards people around you, and love and accept yourself.
and maintaining fitness of the mind is a task, which is an ongoing
project. It is a task for our lifetime. It comes down to learning some exercises
that promote our emotional well being and help us cope with stress. We can learn
meditation and relaxation. The other part will be the task of getting to know
to ourselves more intimately and examining our habits, thought patterns, and attitudes.
For anybody this will be an ongoing project, and there will be surprises, wonderful
discoveries, and inspiring benefits.The small daily steps ultimately make this
a fascinating journey with profound insights into our mental and physical functions
and how they work together in harmony. Enjoy this process to the fullest!
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