Want to live longer? Change your thoughts

The holidays are meant to be a joyous time shared with friends, family, and coworkers. However, many things can take a toll on your emotional health. Job loss or job insecurity, financial woes, loss of health or a loved one can cause depression, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness. Holidays of years past may bring back memories filled with past friends and family get togethers and traditions. If you have had a significant life change over the past year, you may be dreading the holiday season. Focusing on what you have and not what you don’t have is the start to successfully finding your way towards a healthy outlook this holiday season.

Hopefulness, enthusiasm and emotional balance are associated with a substantially reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.

As Dr Caroline Leaf, neuropsychiatrist  points out: thoughts occupy mental real estate in our brains.

Inflammation, brought on by emotional stressors and negative thoughts, triggers the release of hormones and chemicals in the body-namely cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones and chemicals can also cause the body to produce inflammatory molecules, such as cytokines leading to production of more inflammatory molecules, such as C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.

Inflammation and how it relates to heart disease

Inflammation can cause heart attacks by damaging the inner lining of the arteries. This can lead to the formation of plaque. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances can build up in the arteries and cause them to narrow. This narrowing of the arteries can reduce or block the flow of blood to the heart, leading to a heart attack.

Start With Gratitude

Studies show that gratitude, meditation, and prayer enhance immune system function and lowers inflammatory markers. Inflammation, along with smoking and poor lifestyle habits are some of the primary drivers of heart disease. Gratitude journals, where you list 5 things you are grateful for each day, is a powerful tool to combat negativity and increase feelings of well-being.

Decrease Inflammation by Increasing the Levels of These 4 Chemicals

The following are powerful feel-good, stress relieving messengers that can aid in reducing your risk of heart disease. You may note that many of the same activities overlap. For instance, you can increase serotonin, endorphins and dopamine by exercise.

Serotonin

Promotes feelings of belonging and well-being. Up to 95 percent of serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan in the mucosal lining of the gut. Serotonin plays a valuable role in not only mental health but is the precursor to melatonin, and plays a role in digestion, wound healing and even sleep (as the precursor to melatonin).

Loneliness and depressive moods are linked to an altered and limited diversity of the gut microbiome. Inflammation caused by stress can lower levels of serotonin. Taking care of the gut can result in decreased inflammation.

Enhance serotonin levels by:

  • Consuming mega 3 rich foods – decrease inflammation, probiotics and fermented foods can help maintain gut integrity.
  • Connect with loved ones
  • Practice self-care everyday
  • Exercise Spend time outdoors
  • Practice gratitude

Endorphins – Natural pain killers, AKA as the “runners high”

Released by the pituitary gland, endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers. They are released when you are under stress, experiencing pain, eating or exercising. 

Enhance endorphin levels by:

Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is mostly manufactured in the brain. However other organs, such as the adrenal glands also manufacture some dopamine. Dubbed the “feel good” chemical, dopamine also plays a role in blood pressure regulation, cardiac output, and blood flow to organs.

Enhance dopamine levels by:

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Exercise
  • Meditation or prayer
  • Avoid stressful situations.
  • Listening to music
  • Singing

Oxytocin

Oxytocin is nicknamed the “cuddle” or “love” hormone. It is produced in the hypothalamus region of the brain. It promotes social interaction which can lead to feeling of well-being, cuddling, sex and even petting your dog or cat can produce oxytocin.

Enhance oxycontin levels by  

  • Physical affection
  • Showing love and affection
  • Spending time with loved ones and friends
  • Petting your dog or cat or favorite animal

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

Lifesaving Medications

Everyone should be empowered to care for themselves and their loved ones during the unexpected.

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Practice Gratitude – Improve Health

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gratitude- The state of being grateful. Thankfulness Thanksgiving. Embracing and being grateful for what we have (the gift) and for the source (the giver) of it. The gift can come from another, a higher power or nature. 

The world is in upheaval. There are challenges facing all of us as we bid 2022 goodbye and welcome 2023 with a little trepidation. We are entering uncharted territory in world history. The good news is that we are not alone. How we enter this new year depends a lot on our attitude and ability to remain flexible to our changing landscape. In other words, our attitude can make or break us. Let’s take the higher road and focus on solutions.

Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, is one of the world’s leading experts on the science of gratitude, conducted a series of tests to determine if acknowledging and expressing gratitude had any lasting health effects. After conducting several studies ranging from weekly to daily gratitude journaling, he concluded that daily expressions of gratitude had lasting positive outcomes physically, emotionally, and mentally. In other words, daily expressions of gratitude set the stage for continued habits of positive emotions and resilience. 

Practicing gratitude, either in written or spoken form activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is known as the calming part of the nervous system. This in turn lowers cortisol levels and promotes feelings of wellbeing. 

Health benefits of practicing gratitude

  • Reduces stress- Stress hormones such as cortisol 23% lower
  • Lowers inflammation with reduced stress comes reduced inflammation
  • Improved heart health- lower blood pressure
  • Alleviates anxiety
  • Promotes social wellness
  • More likely to choose healthy habits such as diet and exercise
  • Better sleep quality
  • Higher sense of self worth
  • Improved immune function

Is gratefulness a personality trait or can it be learned?

While there are certain personalities that are naturally geared to be more grateful, gratitude can be developed into lifelong habits. Dr. Emmons believes you can cultivate gratitude. In this excellent video, he explains how to become more grateful.  (He has a whole series on gratitude on You Tube worth watching)  

How to practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude not only elevates another person but also elevates you. Dr Emmons work revealed daily and consistent focus on gratitude and being thankful had lasting benefits

The following are a few tips to get started:

    • Journal- Keep a daily journal of 5 things you are grateful for, commit to doing this daily for one month
  • Write letters to loved ones and those you appreciate. Let them know how you feel. It always feels good to get something in the mail that isn’t an advertisement or bill! This could be in combination with other forms of gratitude.
  • Tell 5 people something about them you are grateful for 
  • Text 5 people something positive. Let them know you are thinking about them
  • Start a couple’s journal. Leave it out on coffee table. Write something positive in it daily to each other. 
  • Take time out each day to meditate or pray. Focus on what is good in your life, and work towards solutions to challenges in your life.

Gratitude Quotes- to inspire you!

  1. “This is a wonderful day. I have never seen this one before.” Maya Angelou
  2. “When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.” Kristin Armstrong
  3. “When eating fruit, remember the one who planted the tree.” Vietnamese proverb
  4. “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” Willie Nelson
  5. “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Roert Brault
  6. “‘Enough’ is a feast.” Buddhist Proverb
  7. “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” Epictetus
  8. “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne
  9. “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” John F. Kennedy
  10. “Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation.” John Ortberg
  11. “O Lord that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.” William Shakespeare
  12. “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” Thornton Wilder

 

 

- Brooke Lounsbury

Medical Content Writer

Lifesaving Medications

Everyone should be empowered to care for themselves and their loved ones during the unexpected.

Recent Posts

Keeping you informed and safe.

Join Our Newsletter

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