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August 24, 2020

Does Positive Thinking Help with Recovery Time After Surgery?

Does Positive Thinking Help with Recovery Time After Surgery?

There is solid evidence that having a positive attitude about your surgery and recovery process will help increase your healing rate. According to researchers who reviewed 16 different studies about positive mental attitude and healing, the right frame of mind can make a huge difference. The studies covered over 30 years and different types of surgery, but they all came to this conclusion. So if you’re wondering “Does positive thinking help?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

How does positive thinking help? 

does positive thinking help - happy couple smiling and laughingThe exact reason positive thinkers tend to have better surgical healing outcomes is still not completely understood. Scientists do however, have a few theories to explain the benefit of positive thinking:

  1. Thanks to the body’s primary stress hormone Cortisol, when we are stressed, the body reacts by increasing inflammation. Positive thinking however, allows you to have a more optimistic outlook on a stressful situation thus, allows you to feel less stress. In turn, this optimistic outlook can help lower inflammation. With less inflammation, the body is able to heal in a more efficient manner.
  2. People who are more positive in general tend to choose more beneficial life decisions. These decisions typically stem from having a vision and plan focused on achieving long-term goals. They understand the road will not be easy or painless, but instead of focusing on the pain, they choose to focus on the end result. For those in post-operative stages, plans for achieving their long-term goals will often include following post-operative orders or physical therapy recommendations with upmost integrity.
  3. Negative thoughts and emotions weaken your immune system’s responses. This goes back to the increase in inflammation as stress increases that we discussed in number one above. Chronic elevations of Cortisol that are derived from negative emotions, can lead to a ‘resistant’ immune system and more inflammation.

While the precise reason why positive thinking helps may elude scientists, the benefits of choosing an optimistic psyche through any adversity are very real.

How can you become a positive thinker?

Now that we have answered the question, “Does positive thinking help with recovery after surgery?” you may be left wondering how to get this benefit in your own life. There are some simple steps you can take to shift your frame of mind for a more positive outlook on surgery and life in general.

  • Smile more! Studies have show that smiling, even fake smiling, improves your outlook. This simple act reduces both stress levels and your blood pressure.
  • Practice re-framing stressful situations. When something has you stressed or anxious, try to find something to be grateful for in the situation or a way to see what the lessons  to learned within the situation could be. There is almost always a silver lining to every dark cloud in your day.
  • Work on becoming a resilient person. You can do this by fostering positive relationships with friends and family, learning that change is just a part of life, and working to resolve stressors in your life instead of ignoring them.
  • Work on your Environment. The environment you create around you and in your head is shown to be one of the biggest catalysts with the way you perceive each day. Examples of ways to adjust your environment can include: doing what you can to keep an organized home, remaining positive in stressful situations, working on strengthening your personal relationships, staying as mobile as possible, and staying hydrated.

Another way to reduce the stress associated with an upcoming surgical procedure is to have complete trust in the expertise of your surgical team. At Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group our team of specialists will walk you through the surgery and recovery process step by step. If you need anything throughout your journey, we are here for you. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation with one of our caring and competent physicians.

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