Hope isn't a passive state: it requires energy and a commitment to yourself. It's a drive to set and reach a goal, which translates into its more concrete counterpart: coping. Feeling that you can handle a stressful or difficult situation (the hope part) helps develop a positive outlook - and lets you gain some control over the outcome. Does the ability to cope actually have a measurable impact on health? Yes. Many studies have found that coping skills have a positive effect on health - physically, mentally and emotionally.
Caregivers are also well aware that hope works hand-in-hand with therapy - it's often the "hidden ingredient in any prescription," as Norman Cousins (the famous proponent of laughter as medicine) says.
This article was amended from an article published in the Winter 2003 Compass, by Sheryl Clarke, BScN, RN.
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