Welcome to this weekly online resource. Wellness professional Jo Foster, offers self care tips through her insights on mindfulness and positive psychology, her weekly online yoga classes and nutritious recipe recommendations. 

This week we will be considering the importance of optimism. Enjoy!

Would you describe yourself as an "optimist"? Not sure? Well which of the following best describes you;

When something bad happens, such as a negative comment from a colleague, a financial loss, a squabble with your partner, do you:

a. imagine the worst: you're going to loose your job, you could end up bankrupt, this can only end in divorce.  


b. see these events in their least threatening light. These are surmountable issues and challenges that can be overcome. 

Broadly speaking, if you related more to statement a. you may be a touch pessimistic. If you relate more to b. then you are more of an optimist. Whichever of these categories you fall into, there is no permanence to where you sit on this spectrum. Your outlook on life is likely to shift as you age. It is moulded by your experiences, your state of health and is even impacted by factors such as sleep (we will look at this in future weeks). Throughout life we experience differing degrees of learned optimism and learned helplessness. We learn this from a variety of sources such as from our family, friends, educators, people in positions of leadership and through sources such as media. You may instinctively know this already and will be thinking of someone who you perceive as overly negative; a teacher or leader who dented your confidence or perhaps you are considering how watching too much of the news makes you feel downhearted. Sometimes the impact of these exposures are temporary and we can bounce back from them and sometimes the effects gradually start to bring increased and more permanent levels of pessimism into your mindset. It is natural and indeed healthy to be influenced by external factors, however the degree of influence is something that we must be mindful of, our responses and way of processing information is ultimately a choice. 

In the coming weeks we are going to be looking at the choices we make and how to promote healthy levels of optimism, both personally and with those close to us. We will be considering the techniques developed by psychologists such as Martin Seligman as well as the teachings from other areas of specialism, such as neuroscience, nutrition and more. But first let's consider why it is important? 


1. Achieve more

2. Have better health

3. Live a more enjoyable life


1. Are more likely to give up

2. More likely to suffer depression

3. Live a less fulfilling life

Research by Boston University School of Medicine, has found that optimism is correlated with and 11-15% longer and healthier lifespan. Further studies have shown optimism improves career success, reduces stress, improves healthy lifestyle choices and amplifies our ability to spring back from difficult situations. These are valid reasons for making this area of personal development a priority.

This week, take a moment to reflect on your levels of optimism and whether there is room for improvement. Challenge your initial perceptions of yourself and take the "optimist test". Be sure to be completely honest in this test, don't be concerned about where you come out on the scale, we will be looking at the benefits on both sides of the coin in the coming weeks.

Further resources

Martin Seligman is one of the leading psychologists associated with "Learned Optimism". If you have read his book then you will be familiar with his highly acclaimed work. If you want to delve deeper into this subject then adding his book to your reading list would be worthwhile.

Register and take the optimist test here


Roast cod with lemon beurre blanc and winter ratatouille By Galton Blackiston 

This winter comfort dish uses an impressive array of seasonal veg. It's uncomplicated, delicious and ticks lots of nutrition boxes. The health star of this dish is the humble swede, which is a "superfood" for the immune system. 

Swede: per 100g supplies you with a whopping 41% of your daily requirement of vitamin C.