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"Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”
It’s easy to have a positive outlook when things are going well. But when you’re chronically ill or seriously stressed, maintaining a cheerful demeanor can be a challenge—yet this is when finding a sense of perspective or inner peace is most critical.
Stress triggers a hormonal response. With short-term stress, these hormones cause changes in our bodies that allow us to fight or flee danger, and increase our mental awareness of other threats. If we don’t release this stress it can become chronic, and the hormones associated with chronic stress suppress the immune system and can lead to exhaustion.
One key to avoiding stress: A positive mental attitude. Looking on the bright side won’t stop bad things from happening, but it can make you feel more in control, and that can help you manage your illness.
“When I was diagnosed with second-stage tongue cancer in 2003, all I could think about was getting my treatment over and done with so I could get back to living my life,” says Gary Regan, a former bartender who now writes for a living. “Whenever I was inclined to focus on what I had lost, I changed my perspective to what I was still able to do and looked for ways to build on that. I believe this mindset helped me get through my illness alive. By not giving in to fear, I was able to keep working throughout my recovery, and my life has changed in ways I never would have imagined. For the better, I might add.”
Although we’re not saying that you can think your way to better health, an optimistic outlook can give you the tools you need to avoid feeling overwhelmed by devastating events or illness. Many people find prayer or meditation helpful in fighting stress. Laughter, too, can have profound long-term health benefits. Like stress, laughing releases hormones, but these boost the immune system and can reduce stress levels.
To find out how VNSNY can help you care for your family member, please call 1-800-675-0391.