Positive thinking health benefits include a number of physical and psychological improvements. In fact, researchers have been on a continued exploration of how positive thinking and optimism affects our health.
Positive Thinking Health Benefits
It’s unclear why people who practice positive thinking experience better health. One theory is that having a positive attitude and outlook on life enables you to cope better when you encounter stressful situations. Being able to cope better when faced with stressful circumstances reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.
Researchers suggest the following list of positive thinking health benefits:
- Lower depression rates
- Better coping skills during hardships and stressful times
- Lower distress levels
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better physical and psychological well-being
- Increased life span
There’s also the tendency to think that positive and optimistic people are more likely to live healthier lifestyles. Those who practice positive thinking follow a healthier diet, are more physically active, and don’t smoke and drink alcohol in excess.
Identify Negative Thinking
You’re capable of learning how to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is quite simple. However, learning this simple process takes time and practice. In essence, you’ll be creating a new habit.
Here are some common forms of negative self-talk:
- Personalizing — When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. For example, you hear that an evening out with friends is canceled, and you automatically assume that the change in plans is because no one wanted to be around you.
- Polarizing — You see things only as either good or bad. There is no middle ground. You feel that you have to be perfect or you’re a total failure.
- Filtering — You magnify the negative side of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. For example, you had a great day at work. You completed your tasks ahead of time and received complements for doing a speedy and thorough job. Later in the day, you focus only on your plan to do even more tasks and forget about the compliments you received.
- Catastrophizing — You automatically anticipate the worst. The drive-through coffee shop gets your order wrong and you automatically think that the rest of your day will be a disaster.
Focusing on Positive Thinking
Here are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:
- Practice positive self-talk. Start by following one simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you. Think about things that you’re thankful for in your life.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle. Exercise can positively affect mood and reduce stress. Exercise for about 30 minutes on most days of the week. You can also break it up into 10-minute intervals of time during the day. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. In addition, learn techniques to manage stress.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
- Check yourself. Stop and evaluate what you’re thinking periodically during the day. If you find yourself predominately thinking negative thoughts, find a way to think positive.
- Identify areas to change. If you want to become more optimistic and develop a positive thinking attitude and outlook, first identify areas of your life that you usually think negatively about. Whether it’s a relationship, your job, or even your daily commute, start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way.
- Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to laugh or smile — especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh, you feel less stressed.
Practice Positive Thinking Every Day
If you have the tendency to have a negative outlook, don’t expect to become an optimist overnight. Nonetheless, with practice, eventually your self-talk will contain more self-acceptance and less self-criticism. You may also become less critical of the world around you.
An optimistic state of mind helps you to handle everyday stress better, and in a more constructive way. That ability contributes to the health benefits of positive thinking.