nurses4wellness blog.

The Power of the Mind July 2012

Dear Fellow Nurse,

As July 4th approaches, I am reminded of a surprising story about Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Strikingly, these founding fathers both died on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826! Herbert Benson, MD, a world-renowned leader in mind-body medicine shared this remarkable story during a training program to illustrate the powerful influence the mind can have on our bodies.

Did Jefferson and Adams “hold on” until July 4th before passing on this significant day? John Adam’s final words even were “Thomas Jefferson survives,” indicating his full awareness of the significance of the date. Actually, Jefferson died four hours earlier at Monticello.

In mind-body medicine we understand that expectations affect outcomes. Medical research indicates that between 30 and 60 percent of patients report feeling better after receiving a “sugar pill” or other treatment with no known benefit. The placebo response highlights the effect that thoughts, emotions and beliefs can have on our physiology.

By practicing optimism, gratitude, and forgiveness, we can positively use the power of our mind to promote health and well-being.

Enjoy a healthy 4th of July!

Janet Fontana, RN, MA

Optimism for Better Health

Research from Duke University Medical Center suggests that optimistic patients have a higher survival rate than pessimists. As nurses we can guide patients to perceive their situation in a more positive light by helping them to:

~ Challenge negative thoughts.
~ Focus on one step at a time.
~ Visualize positive outcomes.
~ Repeat positive affirmations such as “I am getting stronger.”
~ Look happy. Studies show that smiling and laughter can actually make someone feel happier and more optimistic.
~ Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing, meditation and yoga.

The Freedom of Forgiveness

Granting forgiveness can sometimes be challenging. However, some studies suggest that there’s healing power in the act of forgiveness. According to the Standford University Forgiveness Project findings, holding grudges and “latching-on” to the wrongs that others and we ourselves commit can quickly become chronic stressors. These stressors potentially lead to an array of health complications and make it more difficult to ward against disease.

By practicing the art of forgiveness, you can free yourself from the negative hold that anger and resentment have on your physical and emotional health.

A Dose of Gratitude

Did you know that expressing gratitude can boost confidence and promote positive life experiences? By adopting an “attitude of gratitude,” you can learn to better cope with stress and be happier.

Here are some tips you can give your patients or even practice yourself to express more appreciation for the things you do have:

~ Reflect on the positive things in your life when you wake up every morning.
~ Keep a gratitude journal.
~ Ask each person at the dinner table to say something for which they feel grateful.
~ Write a letter of thanks to someone who inspires you.

Mind-Body CE Programs

“What a great way to earn nursing CEU’s and gain knowledge that has enriched the care I provide to my patients as well as my own life. The presentations kept me engaged and made learning enjoyable.” Becky Nolan, RN

Check out our one-hour nursing CE webinars. No post test is required.

Want to Learn More?

Some of our favorite resources:
Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson, PhD
The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD
Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, PhD
Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, PhD
“Gratitude and Well-Being” – summary of research findings from UC Davis

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