10 Tips to Help Adjust Your Attitude for HCV
The messages we tell ourselves not only dictate our mood and behavior but can also have a powerful impact on physical health. As such, anyone struggling with a Hepatitis C diagnosis, symptoms or treatment will benefit from an attitude adjustment.
Medical experts agree that thoughts can lead physical health along their route. “It’s clear that stressors produce abnormal changes in the immune system,” said Ronald Glaser, director of Ohio State University’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. Glaser and his wife, Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a clinical psychologist also at Ohio State, studied the mind-body connection and found that chronic stress and psychological stress can impede wounds from healing, may impair the effectiveness of vaccines and can weaken the immune system of caregivers. A pioneer in the field, cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Herbert Benson says, “Mind-body medicine is now scientifically proven.”
While previously only supported by the new-age community, medical scientists studying the mind-body connection are also finding that an optimistic outlook can improve more than just mental health. Carol Ryff, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been studying whether or not high levels of psychological well-being benefit physical health. “There is a science that is emerging that says a positive attitude isn’t just a state of mind,” she says. “It also has linkages to what’s going on in the brain and in the body.” Ryff has shown that individuals with higher levels of well-being have lower cardiovascular risk, lower levels of stress hormones and lower levels of inflammation, which serves as markers of the immune system. However, Ryff cautions that people need to think not in terms of a cure, but of a better life.
For many people with a life-changing illness, a positive attitude is not just a cliché, it is what gets them through the day. Consider positive thinking as the process of creating thoughts that produce and focus energy which, in turn, brings about positive physical outcomes. Since most of us were not raised with this understanding, developing a positive attitude is a learning process. Whether having a positive attitude with Hepatitis C seems completely foreign, or you are just looking for some additional suggestions to keep you in the zone, we have assembled ten tips to direct your thoughts and get you heading in the right direction:
- You Are Not Your Disease – Initially a diagnosis of Hepatitis C eclipses everything in your life. Spending hours on the internet researching the illness, talking to other sufferers and exploring all treatment options can be a whirlwind that makes it easy to lose sight of who you used to be. Should you choose to define yourself in terms of your Hepatitis C status – over time, so too will those around you. Instead, define yourself by the qualities that make you who you are. Those living most successfully with Hepatitis C don’t let the virus define them or restrict the life they would otherwise choose to live.
Appreciate your illness. At first, this may seem counter-intuitive to healing. However, this is a powerful pivot point into a positive attitude. Here are some examples that may fit you exactly, or can be molded into your personal appreciation:
- Every Moment – It was only upon being diagnosed with Hepatitis C that I learned to truly appreciate each moment in my life.
- Quitting Alcohol – I needed some sort of push to quit drinking alcohol, and this illness handed it to me.
- Self-Discovery – I never realized the enormity of my inner strength until I faced the challenge Hepatitis C presented to me.
- Self-Awareness – Before my diagnosis, I didn’t pay much attention to my feelings, and now I see they are all that matters.
- Choices – My exposure to the options presented by different medical establishments has taught me that I do have control over my life. By making the choices that fit me best, I am in control.
Along similar lines as appreciation, find things to be grateful for. When you wake up each morning try to think of one thing you are grateful for. You will notice that the key is to skip what you are unhappy about, and go right for the good stuff (even if it comes in smaller doses than the challenges). Here are some grateful affirmations to get you going:
- I am grateful for the moments when my body feels good.
- I am grateful I have the energy to get out of bed.
- I am grateful for the support I’ve found in ______________.
- I am grateful to be alive.
The difference between a detrimental attitude and a positive one is simple. You can have Hepatitis C and feel hopeless or you can have Hepatitis C and feel hopeful. Take advantage of the suggestions above and start experimenting with your inner dialogue. At the very least, it will help you feel good in the moment you focus on a positive thought; while at the most, an optimistic attitude can change your experience of living with Hepatitis C to living a positive, enriching healthy life.
www.findarticles.com, Keeping the faith: low-stress country living and a positive attitude have helped Naomi Judd control a life-threatening illness, Bonnie Siegler, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, Gale Group, 2007.
www.hcvadvocate.org, Side Effect Management: Maintaining a Positive Attitude, Alan Franciscus, Hepatitis C Support Project, October 2004.
www.health.yahoo.com, Positive Thinking, Katy E. Magee, MA, Healthwise Incorporated, 2007.
www.hepcchallenge.org, Promoting Liver Health, Lorren Sandt, Hepatitis C Caring Ambassadors Program, 2007.
www.hepcuk.info, Positive Attitude, The Hepatitis C Trust, 2007.
www.usatoday.com, Power of a Super Attitude, Sharon Jayson, USA Today, 2007.