If it Were Not for Hope, the Heart Would Break.
American Heart Month spurred my desire to dig deeper into what it means to have a more comprehensive and integrated approach to cardiovascular and holistic health. Although nutrition and lifestyle factors are very important for health and disease prevention, they often overshadow the powerful influence of the mind-body and human connections. The borderline obsessive focus on the perfect diet and optimizing lifestyle approaches to the detriment of relationships and other enjoyable activities was the impetus behind my series on healthism.
I just posted on my Healing, Health, and Wellness blog on the effect that subjects’ beliefs have on clinical intervention trials’ outcomes. Specifically, I provided a brief review on the placebo and nocebo effects. These concepts provide evidence of the mind-body connection in conventional healthcare, which you can read more about here.
Now, I will provide more examples of the impact of mindset on health. In this blog, I will highlight how positive emotions and a hope-filled attitude can benefit our bodies and our well-being. I will also discuss how essential oils can bolster hopeful beliefs and optimize emotions and our physiology.
Positive Emotions, Spiritual Practices, and Health
In a previous blog, I demonstrated that the “power of positive thinking” wasn’t just woo-woo. Several studies have shown that forgiveness, self-love, positive affirmations, constructively dealing with regret, and releasing our sadness all provide benefits to the physical body in distinct ways.
Hopeful Experiences and Health Outcomes
Hope is another emotion that has been studied in clinical trials. It often lumped in with optimism, but in research it has a distinction. In one study, the author states:
In summary, optimism is a cognitive construct consisting of a generalized belief in positive outcomes based on rational estimates of a person’s likelihood of success and a belief in personal efficacy. Hope, in our view, is an emotion rooted in early trust experiences and influenced by external and collaborative control beliefs.
The overall validity and research is still inconclusive on hope, yet studies with palliative care, chronic disease, and lifestyle have generally been favorable that the more hopeful someone is, the better outcomes. (source, source, source, source, source, source) This 2017 systematic review offers one of the more comprehensive look on hope as well as optimism, including randomized trials.
A New Meaning of Hope
A few years ago, I discussed how negative childhood experiences impact and shape our adult lives. The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) Study was revolutionary in its findings that trauma afflicted on the young not only impacted their mental outcomes, but also almost every aspect of physical health. (You can find these connections all listed here).
Knowing that one’s predisposition may be programmed to respond to stress and relationship conflict more aggressively is actually a powerful preventative tool. This is because there are ways to allow the body to mitigate the impact and emotional responses. Still, the best way to mitigate traumatic outcomes is to ensure they never occur.
In the article, Responding to ACEs With HOPE: Health Outcomes From Positive Experiences, the definition of hope has a whole new meaning. It changes the trajectory of health through building better experiences and expectations from the start. In this definition, hope can mean better quality of life and optimal wellness through promotion of beneficial interactions. The article states:
The HOPE framework focuses on the need to actively promote positive childhood experiences that contribute to healthy development and well-being, as well as prevent or mitigate the effect of adverse childhood experiences and other negative environmental influences. Key positive childhood experiences fall within 4 broad categories: being in nurturing, supportive relationships; living, developing, playing, and learning in safe, stable, protective, and equitable environments; having opportunities for constructive social engagement and connectedness; and learning social and emotional competencies. The HOPE framework grows out of and complements prior holistic approaches to child health care.
The outcomes from the framework were discussed in the Hope Report as follows:
- Positive childhood experiences promote adult health, even among adults who reported adverse childhood experiences, data from the 2015 Wisconsin Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFS) suggests. This is the first time a single population survey has included questions about health, adverse child experiences, and positive childhood experiences.
- Children whose parents participated in their children’s activities, listened to their children, and took care of themselves were more likely to have developed psychological resilience. Resilience helped protect children from the effects of adversity, according to the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH).
- Social and political support for positive parenting is widespread, according to national population surveys from yougov.com and Prevent Child Abuse America.
- “Children who live, learn, and play in safe, supportive environments are healthier and become healthier adults,” said lead author Dr. Robert Sege, chief medical officer at Health Resources in Action and a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Policy. “These findings make clear that while it is crucial to protect children from abuse, violence, and family disruption, we must provide more positive experiences for them as well.”
Hopeful Responses, Happier Emotions, a More United Society
Many emotional patterns, learned or programmed, can be linked to the quality of intimate relationships. For example, better emotional coherence can enhance communication and help to establish closer connection and understanding between individuals. The resulting increase in tolerance between partners could even spread to create a more accepting society. This means taking responsibility for one’s attitudes and emotional expressions can be an important way to not only promote healthier bodies and minds, but also a better world.
Essential Oils, Emotions, and Relationships
This means that those emotional names that are labeled on our oils blends’ bottles are a legit way to enhance and experience a desired emotion.
Now, you can use what you learned to program your mind to be more positive, add with that a little drop of of an emotional essential oil blend, and your relationships and overall health outcomes will flourish!
Click here for February 2018 Top Holistic and Integrative Health Reads
Now I want to hear from you!
What is your favorite oil to enhance your emotions or increase hope?
Have you noticed that your emotions are linked to better health?
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.