Hope Helps You Heal: Five Ways to Find It

Hope Helps You Heal: Five Ways to Find It

The power of hope to activate and accelerate healing is not a common topic in healthcare circles. There is evidence, however, that positive beliefs and an expectation of good outcomes set off a chain reaction in the brain and nervous system that makes improvement and recovery more likely.

Researchers have demonstrated that hope promotes daily behaviors that support health and prevent disease, such as fruit-and-vegetable consumption, regular exercise, safe-sex practices and quitting smoking. A hopeful outlook can improve respiration, circulation and motor function, and it can actually block pain by releasing neurotransmitters that mimic the effects of morphine.

There is, of course, a thin line between hope and wishful thinking. False hope does not acknowledge the risks and dangers of the present reality and can lead to unwise decision-making. Hopeful people are able to grasp the truth but are sustained by a vision of a better day. Wishing encourages passivity, but hope causes people to show up for the hard work and press through their setbacks.

These five pathways will help patients find hope in the midst of a difficult diagnosis:

  1. Identity apart from adversity. Patients are less likely to define themselves by their diagnosis if they actively pursue enjoyable activities and supportive relationships outside the realm of treatment.
  2. Community instead of isolation. Engaging in a community of people experiencing the same illness or condition helps patients realize they are not alone in living with and fighting their disease.
  3. Active, not passive. Hope is sustained by taking an active role in treatment by setting goals, self-advocating, monitoring and maintaining one’s own health.
  4. Spirituality combats fear. Peacefulness is found and perspective is regained through faith, spiritual connectedness and other contemplative practices.
  5. Wisdom from experience. Illness and adversity leave their marks of strength from the struggle and wisdom from experience. These virtues make future struggles less daunting and are useful in inspiring hopefulness in others.

To learn how Covenant Care can help you live life to the fullest in the midst of a life-limiting illness, visit www.choosecovenant.org or call 1-877-CARE-365.