Why Hopes and Dreams Improve Your Health

December 18, 2019
Are you someone who always has hopes and dreams? Or do you feel that your dreams will never come true?

Where would you be without hopes and dreams? You have so many of them and you’d be empty without them. Dreams are desires you hope will materialize one day. Recent research has even shown how having dreams can improve our health.

Álvaro Pascual-Leone, Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, after seeing the results of his study, puts it this way: “To have a goal in life that’s beyond us, and yet which brings us satisfaction in striving to achieve it, is good for the brain and for our health in general“.

It seems that having dreams or some sort of life project increases your cognitive reserve. Cognitive reserve is the brain’s capacity to face challenges at a level where your capacities are really put to the test. It’s very much related to your tolerance for change, and for what’s new and uncertain.

“Illusion is the first of all pleasures.”

-Voltaire-

But what kind of dreams do we mean?

We’re talking here about aspirations or transcendent reasons that motivate you to move forward. For one person, the reason to get up in the morning may be their children or grandchildren, for another, it may be their work, and for yet another their religious faith.

They’re diverse, individual, or collective, and can change over time. What they don’t change is the satisfaction they bring you when you fulfill them. And even if you didn’t achieve your goals, there’s satisfaction in knowing that you had a go and didn’t throw in the towel.

“People with clear life goals have a greater cognitive reserve and take more care of themselves.”

A happy woman.

Keys to a healthy brain

People with well-defined life goals, and who are excited about them, seem to have clearer, healthier minds. Thus, hope seems to be the oil that lubricates all the cognitive processes. These people also seem to have fewer cognitive problems in their daily lives and look after themselves better.

To enjoy healthy neurons, you have to nourish seven areas of our life:

  • Health. Your brain is affected by the number of times you get sick and the way you deal with illnesses.
  • Nutrition. A complete and balanced diet helps you stop brain deterioration.
  • Sleep. Good sleeping habits because quality of sleep is directly related, for example, to the consolidation of memories.
  • Exercise. A combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercises. An hour and a half of exercise improves brain functions.
  • Cognitive functions. Dealing well with your problems, and not having deficits in attention or memory… all of this can prevent or slow down brain deterioration.
  • Social relationships. The type of social network you have, the number of friends and the support you receive are factors that condition cognitive reserve.
  • Life goals. Treasuring hopes and dreams, and finding satisfaction in them, help you to lift up your eyes and have hope for the future, while also taking care of the present.

The magic of dreams

Hopes and dreams are essential for your future. Perhaps not so much regarding their content, but certainly their coverage. With them, you can keep your eyes fixed on life and open your eyes and dream. However, these dreams will also ask you for your effort in helping to make them come true.

Injecting hope into your life goals is to revitalize them, give them energy, refine them, adapt them, and to protect them against the enemy of monotony. In this way, you thresh out your efforts to achieve what you were intending to, and any setback is positive, as it teaches you something new.

Finally, we’d like to emphasize that joy, as well as tenacity and patience, keep your hopes and dreams alive as you see the roses as well as the thorns. Those very same hopes and dreams look after your mental processes such as memory, attention, and intelligence.

Bartrés-Faz, D., Cattaneo, G., Solana, J., Tormos, JM, y Pascual-Leone, A. (2018). Significado en la vida: resiliencia más allá de la reserva. Investigación y terapia de Alzheimer , 10 (1), 47.