Thinking about death can be beneficial

Thinking about death and having a greater awareness of mortality can prove beneficial, new research has suggested. Published in the online edition of Personality and Social Psychology Review, the study found such considerations can not only bolster physical health but also enable individuals to gain a better understanding of their values and goals.

Kenneth Vail of the University of Missouri - often referred to as Mizzou - noted previous investigations on the subject have tended to focus on the negative aspects of thinking about death, such as its links to prejudice, greed and violence.

Mr Vail stated: "There has been very little integrative understanding of how subtle, day-to-day, death awareness might be capable of motivating attitudes and behaviours that can minimise harm to oneself and others."

From a health perspective, the study noted those who are aware of the fragility of life may be more inclined to exercise, apply greater levels of sunscreen or smoke less.

Dr Ray Owen, Chartered Psychologist and author of Facing the Storm: Using CBT, Mindfulness and Acceptance to Build Resilience When Your World's Falling Apart, commented: "Thinking about death can certainly bring up strong emotions like sadness for past losses and fear about future ones.

"However, if we avoid doing things just because they make us feel upset, we also lose out on the benefits they can bring, including here valuing life more and doing things to live better."