Optimizing Your Health with Optimism

By Juanita Benedict, DPT, CEAS II

I recently read an article about how optimists are both physically and psychologically healthier than their pessimistic counterparts. Apparently, there are a plethora of studies that support this claim. The science indicates that optimists have lower rates of depression and better immune systems, which lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and increases life span. (Bradberry, 2015)

Even though this article was not the first of its kind, it is the type of article that I like to read every few months to inspire me to become more positive. If simply being optimistic can increase not only my physical health, but my enjoyment of life, why would I choose to be otherwise?

Positive thinking affects how you interpret and react to stressful situations.

Your body’s response to stressful situations that you deem as negative is to increase the production of adrenaline, which increases your heart rate and cortisol, and reduces the protection of your immune system. Negative thinking actually places your body in physical distress.

The good news is that this physical reaction doesn’t have to be detrimental. Positive thinking and optimism has been shown to have significantly good effects on health. Learning to think positively can help your body to release oxytocin, instead of the adrenaline and cortisol. Oxytocin has been called the “love” hormone as it increases your sense of well-being. Be warned, it also may increase your desire to hug! (McGonigal, 2015)

Unfortunately, changing your thinking pattern is not as simple as just turning on a switch. Positive thinking is a habit that takes time to form. Be patient with yourself and you will be able to cultivate an entirely new perspective.

Here are a few tips to help you learn how to think positive and be optimistic:

1. Minimize negative media. That may seem like a herculean tasks with current events, but you need to make your health a priority. Watching negative news increases your anxiety levels and can lead to the physical effects described earlier, as well as increase your risk of depression. (Health Central, 2011)

2. Start your day on a positive note. Write down three things you are grateful for.

3. Practice seeing the good. There is always a silver lining, although sometimes you may need to put in some effort to find it. Even in the wake of horrific events, there are always good people and inspirational stories.

4. Accept that you are not perfect, and that is perfectly fine! The imperfections in life are what make it interesting and fun. How boring would life be if everyone was perfect?

5. Laugh. Laugh loud and laugh often. Laugh at yourself and seemingly impossible circumstances. There is nothing that will change your attitude like finding the humor in stressful situations.

6. Exercise. The benefits of exercise are too numerous to name. A person once said that if all of the benefits of exercise could be put into a pill, it would be the most sought-after medicine in the world.

Enjoy this day and every day. Remember the reason you work so hard is to live a good life. Being optimistic not only helps you stay healthy enough to do the things you want, but also helps you really savor them.



Bradberry, T. (2015, May 4). Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-positivity-makes-you-healthy-successful-dr-travis-bradberry?trk=v-feed
Health Central. (2011, August 29). Retrieved from http://www.healthcentral.com/anxiety/c/1443/143415/watching-increase
McGonigal, K. (2015). The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is Good for You and How to Get Good at It. New York: Penguin .


Juanita Benedict is a physical therapist in Florida who works specifically with dental professionals to reduce their pain while practicing as well as extend their careers. For more information, go to www.healthydentistrysolutions.com or contact her at 407.801.3324.


Motivate Your Team and Get Healthy at the Same Time

By Drew Eason, FDA Executive Director

We’re getting to that time of year, even here in Florida, where our exercise habits might start to dwindle a bit. Halloween candy, turkey dinners, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s celebrations — you get the picture! One way to fight off potential weight gain or a drop in fitness level is to walk. It’s also great to help control stress.

At the Florida Dental Association (FDA), we’ve just started a walking contest. So now, in addition to the benefits of walking listed above, we’ve also added a teambuilding element. Here’s how it works: Staff wanting to participate (and most are) purchase a pedometer. It can be more expensive like the latest Fitbit or as simple as a $20 pedometer that clips to a belt. For this first week, everyone monitors their steps and turns in their count for the week. We then divide everyone up into teams based on their baseline week (keeping the teams equal with high/low count walkers combined). Each team picks a name and a captain. The captain’s role is to keep the team motivated and to collect everyone’s step total for each week.

Here at the FDA, we decided to “walk” from the FDA headquarters to the California Dental Association headquarters in Sacramento. For simplicity, we use the average of 2,000 steps/mile. To win, a team needs to be the first one to “walk” to Sacramento. Each week we post the teams in rank order.

I’ve done contests like this in the past. Instead of staff eating at their desk or going out for fast food, you’ll see them take a walk at lunch. You see staff who might not normally interact that much arrive to work 30 minutes early to go for a walk together. The impact of such a simple program is extremely positive.

What do they win? We give the first team a paid day off. Second place is a half day off, etc. It’s a very inexpensive way to help staff stay healthy and incorporate some teambuilding.

During my lunch, you’ll find me at the mall to do a few laps!


Five Tips to Keep Mouths Healthy This Halloween

Halloween is coming up soon, which for many children (and adults) means celebrating the holiday with candy and other sweet treats. While it’s fun to enjoy the holiday, parents should be mindful that sugary foods can increase the risk of tooth decay, which is the most common chronic disease for children and adolescents.

When you eat or drink foods containing sugars, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel, and over time this can cause tooth decay, the breakdown of tooth enamel and lead to cavities.

The good news is that you can let your children enjoy the holiday and teach them good oral health habits that they can benefit from during any holiday season.

So, before you take your kids to Halloween parties or trick-or-treating, download these five tips to keep their teeth healthy.

And of course, continue to practice ongoing oral health care, including flossing daily, brushing teeth twice a day and visiting your Florida Dental Association member dentist regularly. To find your FDA member dentist, visit learn.floridadental.org/find-your-dentist/.

Click to enlarge the image.

FDA Halloween One Pager