How to live longer: One behavioural change could help you to live longer – study

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Scientists have posited the theory that those who have a more optimistic outlook on life may live longer and healthier lives.

Researchers found optimists fared better emotionally than pessimists.

However, despite previous studies saying the same thing, scientists do not fully understand why optimists live longer lives.

Dr Lewina Lee, a clinical psychologist at Boston University, said: “Given prior work linking optimism to longevity, healthy ageing, and lower risks of major diseases, it seemed like a logical next step to study whether optimism might protect against the effects of stress among older adults.”

Dr Lee continued: “We found that more optimistic men reported having fewer daily stressors, which partially explained their lower levels of negative mood.

“That suggested to us that perhaps more optimistic men either limited their exposure to stressful situations, or that they were less likely to perceive or label situations as stressful.”

Although the results are positive news for positive people the study, published in the Journals of Gerontology, had one caveat.

It was only tested on older men, not older women.

Dr Lee, however, suggested that the same may be true for older women but said: “Less is known about age differences in the role of optimism in health.”

As a result of these findings, it may be considered a wise move for more optimistic outlooks to be encouraged amongst the general population.

Dr Lee added: “One way to become more optimistic is to develop an awareness of how we internally react to or judge a situation.

“A more optimistic thought… may involve acknowledging our strengths, past examples of success, and areas over which we have control, so that we can arrive at a more positive and confident outlook.”

Cultivating a positive outlook may have been difficult in recent years for those at the other end of the age spectrum, amongst younger people.

Since the mid noughties there have been multiple economic crises, several divisive political votes, mass global warming, the rise of social media, a global pandemic, a cost-of-living crisis and the start of war in Europe.

As a result of these and other localised social factors, the young people who have grown up in the world over recent years have been faced with a barrage of challenges.

In this time however, perceptions have begun to change over mental health.

In 2022 there is a greater understanding of mental health than there was in 2008.

Furthermore, governments are now beginning to understand that mental health is as import as physical health.

This comes amidst the NHS warning of a second pandemic of mental health issues as millions are diagnosed with mental health conditions which all require unique treatments.

For more information on mental health consult with your GP or visit the charity Mind.

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