Have no doubt, a positive mindset positively benefits your health, even if you are currently suffering from a health challenge.
Story by Becca Edwards + Photography by Mike Ritterbeck
Becca Edwards is a wellness professional, freelance writer, and owner of b.e.WELL+b.e.CREATIVE (bewellbecreative.com).
The Mayo Clinic states, “Indeed, some studies show that personality traits such as optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. The positive thinking that usually comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with many health benefits.”
Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health and link both to: increased life span, lower rates of depression, lower levels of distress, greater resistance to the common cold, better psychological and physical well-being, better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and better coping skills during hardships and times of stress.
In 2009, Hilton Head part-time resident Jeanette Sokulski was diagnosed with in-situ ductal carcinoma in both breasts. “It was found by a routine mammogram,” Sokulski said. “A sonogram found more, and a PET scan showed even more. It had gone into my chest wall.”
Sokulski underwent a bi-lateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and a total hysterectomy. Everything seemed to be fine until 2013, when doctors found a neuroendocrine tumor. “They could not call it as one certain cancer because there was no primary, but I had it everywhere, my liver, knee, lymphs, bones, lungs. It was stage four because it was affecting my organs.”
Thankfully, now Sokulski is healthy once more and she attributes it to staying positive. “Obviously, the first time I got the news, it was devastating. You initially don’t think you are going to get out of it. But I had wonderful support from my family and the website Helping Hands got us organized. People would sign up for meals or for taking me to chemotherapy. Getting organized is the best way to stay focused,” she said.
The big turnaround was when her then 16-year-old daughter Melissa said, “Mom, you have to go through this. This is what will make you stronger.” “And it hit me like a lead ballon,” Sokulski said. “I accepted I had to go through this. My cancer was not going to control my life. It was not going to define me. I could not control the cancer cells but I could control what I put in my body both with nutrition and thoughts. And taking control of your body doesn’t mean you have to do everything. I went to a dietitian, a therapist, et cetera. Get help.”
Sokulski’s SIX Tips To Staying Positive
 Remember this is my life. And ask, “How do I want to live it?”
 Get out in nature. It doesn’t cost a lot.
 Try meditation and yoga. Both help with being present and grateful.
 Get the right people to help you – even when well. Find a doctor you feel confident about or a holistic practitioner that you connect with.
 Eat well. Food is fuel.
 Help others be positive. It will, in turn, help you.