Nobody likes catching a cold. But it seems that we all have a pretty effective weapon that can reduce our chances of getting one – being happy. In a study published back in 2003, over 300 volunteers in the US were knowingly infected with a virus responsible for the common cold. They were then monitored for symptoms over the next five days. The results were clea r. Those with the most positive outlooks on life were three times less likely to develop cold symptoms than those who were the least happy. Other studies have reached similar conclusions.
A positive mental attitude can have long-term health benefits too. In the US, the autobiographies of 180 Catholic nuns in their 20s and 30s were analysed by psychologists to see what they revealed about their personalities. It showed that those who were positive and happy tended to live 7 to 10 years longer than those who weren’t.
In spite of such studies, the influence of our mind over our health has left some
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JOB OF MANAGING STRESS”
members of the medical community decidedly sceptical. But there’s a growing body of research showing that what goes on in our heads has a direct influence over how healthy we are. Not only that, our thoughts can even help cure us of some ailments. Importantly, researchers are now starting to understand more about the mechanisms at work – how our thoughts are connected to our physical health.
A researcher at the forefront of this field is Dr Laura Kubzansky, co-director of t he Center for Health and Happiness at Harvard School of Public Health. One of her most recent studies – so recent, in fact, that it has not yet been published – involves just over 70,000 nurses in the