Our mind and body are connected, undeniably. But have you ever pondered over how your thoughts might hinder or help your physical well-being? In fact, our thoughts affect our health, like how we heal or get worse when we’re under the weather just based on if we’re thinking positively or negatively. Even for those of us with a lifelong disease, we can live a happy life, perhaps even longer than our prognosis, by staying positive. If you have trouble keeping a constructive mindset, we have some tips to help you out with that!
Positive Thinking and Health
Life loves throwing curve balls at us, so it’s not like we can stay positive all the time, but keeping a general positive outlook can help us stay healthy and kick illnesses in the butt! Researchers have found that positive thinking is linked to tons of health benefits, including increased life span, low rates of depression and distress, good cardiovascular health, and resistance to the common cold! Not to mention, optimistic people, even those with a serious disease like cancer, live longer lives than folks who tend to be pessimistic. The bottom line? Positive thoughts help us cope better with diseases and disorders, and help us live happy lives.
Negativity and Sickness
Positive thoughts can help keep us healthy and happy, but negative thoughts are just as powerful in the opposite direction. For instance, stress has been linked to headaches. Between the daily grind and unforeseen major life events, stress can pile up and literally make our heads hurt or make our headaches much worse. Another example of the mind-body connection is how people who tend to be anxious have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and stomach ulcers. Chronic negativity can really put a damper on our health. When you really think about it (see what I did there?) it’s not so surprising that our thoughts can affect our health.
Just remember this: it isn’t your fault when you do get sick. While our thoughts can sometimes have an effect on our health, life happens with or without our conscious consent. Still, it’s great to be optimistic and live as happily as you can! With that in mind, let’s look at some ways to keep a positive mindset.
Steps to Positive Thinking
In all honesty, it’s not always easy to look on the bright side, especially for natural pessimists (trust me, I know, I am one). But the more often you can stay positive, the better off you’ll be, emotionally, mentally, and physically. When you find your mind wandering into dark territory, use these steps, touted by experts, to reorient your mind into thinking positive, constructive thoughts:
- Watch how you talk with yourself. Throughout the day, make a conscience effort to listen to your inner thoughts. Are they mostly negative thoughts? This means it is time to redirect! Recall all of the good that has happened within the day and focus on those events.
- Be nice to yourself. A lot of doom and gloom can come from negative self-talk. Treat yourself kindly, remind yourself of all the things you’re doing right, and be encouraging.
- Focus on the CAN, drop the NOT. There are plenty of things the average person can’t do, so forget about those things. Focus on what your abilities allow you to do, and grow these abilities so you can achieve even more. Also, remind yourself of what you can have rather than brooding over what you can’t have.
- Believe! The power of simply believing that an outcome is possible makes it incredibly powerful. This is true for negative and positive outcomes. With that in mind, believe in your abilities and believe in what you can accomplish. When you believe you can, you do.
The human mind is incredibly influential. The way we think affects our health more powerfully than most people even realize. While staying positive can be a great way to stay healthy and happy, you’ll inevitably experience negative emotions throughout your life. That’s OK! You don’t have to be super positive all the time. It’s when negativity consumes us that it becomes dangerous to our health. Even then, know that becoming sick or being diagnosed with a serious illness is not you or your thoughts’ fault! If you want to work on being a more positive person, you can do it! After all, change is only a matter of believing that you can.
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