Thinking Positively Can Impact Your Health and Well-Being

Positive thinking can be an integral part of your stress management toolkit and it can improve your health. Studies show that personality traits such as optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. [1] [2] [3]

While research is ongoing, some of the health benefits that correlate with thinking positively include:

  • Increased life span
  • Decreased rates of depression
  • Better cardiovascular health

It’s unclear precisely how positivity impacts overall health. Popular theories include that a positive outlook engenders better coping skills and reduces the harmful effects of stress or that more optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles. While the exact nature of how your mental outlook impacts your physical well-being, there is sufficient evidence that it’s worth trying to maintain a positive mental attitude.

Positive thinking isn’t about ignoring life’s problems, it only means that the way you approach issues in a productive way. It means that instead of immediately focusing on the negative aspects of any given situation, yet take a step back and try to look at the whole picture.

Shift Your Inner Dialogue

An immediate way you can impact your stress levels is through the power of self-talk. If negative thoughts arise, try to catch yourself in the early stages of the downward self-talk spiral, the “I’m not good enough” or “I deserve to fail” or “good things never happen to me” and tell your inner voice to calm down while you think about things.

Shift Your Focus

Another way to foster a more positive attitude is to shift your focus. If you find yourself always magnifying the negative aspects and discarding the positive one, stop and evaluate what’s really going on. And take the time to create a gratitude log track all all the positive things that have happened to you today. The compliments you received, the nice things you read, the food you enjoyed, the beautiful weather, etc. Gratitude is one of the easiest ways to become more positive. [4]

Shift Your Body

Exercise can positively affect mood and reduce stress. Even short bouts of walking have been shown to have a significant impact on mood with substantial shifts toward a positive outlook. [5]

In conclusion, simply being aware of what is going on inside your head can make a big impact on the direction of your thoughts. Controlling your thoughts is the first step to gaining some control over negative emotions. You may not become an optimist overnight, but with practice you can become more positive.

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  1. Carver CS, Scheier MF, Segerstrom SC. “Optimism.” Clin Psychol Rev. 2010;30(7):879–89.
  2. Hernandez R, Kershaw KN, Siddique J, et al. “Optimism and Cardiovascular Health: Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).” Health Behav Policy Rev. 2015;2(1):62–73.
  3. Cohen S, Alper CM, Doyle WJ, Treanor JJ, Turner RB. “Positive emotional style predicts resistance to illness after experimental exposure to rhinovirus or influenza a virus.” Psychosom Med. 2006;68(6):809–15.
  4. Ekkekakis, Panteleimon, et al. “Walking in (affective) circles: can short walks enhance affect?.” Journal of Behavioral Medicine 23.3 (2000): 245–275.
  5. Emmons, Robert A., and Michael E. McCullough. “Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life.” Journal of personality and social psychology 84.2 (2003): 377.

Originally published at Brian Junyor.

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