How a Positive Outlook Affects Your Health
o you struggle with chronic pain or persistent medical problems? Does it seem like bad things just keep happening when it comes to your health? When you think about your health are you a glass half-empty person, or do you see the glass half-full?
It turns out, the way in which you think about what’s happening with your health can actually make a huge difference in how you feel. Research continues to prove that positive thinking has a tangible effect on our overall health and people who practice positive thinking nearly always come out ahead. There’s a bright side to looking on the bright side after all!
The Feedback Loop
How does it work? Positive thinking is just one element of your overall health, but it has the unique power to keep your momentum going on good habits and lifestyle changes.
Think about it–someone who exercises regularly not only gets the benefits of an endorphin boost from working out, but they are more likely to believe in the positive effects of their physical activity. That feeling may also lead them to make better choices when it comes to nutrition and diet. It’s a positive feedback loop that can work wonders when you’re trying to make changes to turn your health around.
Healthy Mind, Healthy Body
Other effects of positive thinking are even easier to measure. Doctors have found that optimists experience increased life spans, lower rates of depression, lower stress, better resistance to the common cold, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. How incredible that our moods can have such a powerful effect on our health!
While the science has yet to prove exactly how these health benefits come about as a result of positive thinking, the popular theory holds that a positive attitude enables us to better cope with stressful situations and health troubles, alongside the fact that optimists are more likely to lead healthier lifestyles overall.
Learning To Be An Optimist
If you’re struggling with a negative outlook or persistent negative self talk, the suggestion that you need to just buck up might just seem like an impossible hill to climb. But take heart, it’s easier than you think to become an optimist and it can definitely be done in baby steps.
Harness the power of positivity with a few of my favorite tips:
Fake It Till You Make It. Studies have shown that the act of smiling actually increases your sense of happiness. The muscles associated with smiling have a direct effect on your mood. Don’t believe it? Give it a try, even if you feel silly at first.
Laughter is the Best Medicine. Speaking of smiling, it’s difficult to see everything under a dark cloud when you’re laughing your head off. Pull up your favorite stand-up comedian on YouTube and take a breather. See if you feel better about your situation after a few giggles.
Be in the Moment. Mindfulness is all over the news these days, but it’s with good reason. Slowing down to feel your feelings, appreciate what you already have, and smell the roses will often show you things aren’t so bad. Next time you feel the negative feelings piling up, take a deep breath, feel your feet on the ground, and tune into your surroundings.
Keep a Gratitude Journal. Write down one thing you’re thankful for every day. This simple act is surprisingly powerful as it turns on the part of the brain that looks for the good in everything and everyone. Was someone particularly pleasant at the office today? Write it down. Were the leaves on the trees extra green for that moment the sun came out? Perfect. Once you start, you may find you are collecting more than one positive thing each day. If that’s the case, don’t hold back. There’s no daily limit on gratitude.
When Will It Start To Work?
Luckily you can usually feel the immediate effects of positive thinking in your mood right away, but incremental lifestyle changes also have a tendency to add up over time. If you’re dealing with chronic disease, make sure you’re helping your health along by looking at the big picture. Eat right, exercise, and give space for a little positivity in your day. And be thankful for the little things because sometimes a smile is more than just a smile.