A follow up from our recent post: "The Stress/Heart Disease Relationship"
" Whether you can stave off emotional problems by helping the body or stave off physical ills by addressing the mind, the whole person is bound to be better off. "
As the study in Psychological Science makes clear, some people are simply in the habit of reverting to positive emotion, even in the midst of trouble - but those who aren't can learn to develop that skill. "They can change their emotional habits in lasting ways, in ways that increase their potential for happiness and health. It's not set in stone or DNA," say Fredrickson.
Meditation is one way to do that, but if it seems too hard or "New Agey" a 2013 paper in the British Journal of Health Psychology suggests that you can improve your mood just by eating better. In a 21-day study of 281 young adults, researcher Tamlin Conner of the University of Otago in New Zealand, with her colleagues, discovered a strong relationship between a diet high in fruits and vegetables and a positive mood (see story "Mood-Bosting Remedies"). "We don't know the precise mechanism of it as yet," says Conner. "It could boost brain serotonin levels. It could be because these foods are high in antioxidants, which can have a calming effect on bodily systems. But it's exciting because it's a whole area of research to be discovered."
Of course, eating healthy foods improves well-being anyway; any extra benefit it might provide through improvements in mood would just be icing on the cake. But there's nothing wrong with that. As psychiatrists and other doctors are figuring out how to unravel the intimate links and feedbacks between mental and physical health, there're also learning that it doesn't always matter which is cause and which is effect. Whether you can stave off emotional problems by helping the body or stave off physical ills by addressing the mind, the whole person is bound to be better off.
See attached TIME article for more from David Bjerklie and Jenisha Watts