Health Benefits of Positive Thinking
During difficult times, having positive thinking can be more beneficial than you know. Whether you’re battling cancer, exhausted from pandemic fatigue or are just experiencing political anxiety, we’ve got some amazing health benefits that stem from some a good old fashioned positive outloook.
The Power of Positivity
Though the research is still a little unclear, what is known is there is a link between positivity and health. Researchers believe that:
- Positive people are less affected by the inflammatory damage of stress.
- Negative feelings can weaken the immune system.
- Positive thinkers make better life and health decisions and work toward long-term goals.
“People with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook,” according to Johns Hopkins Assistant Professor of Medicine Lisa Yanek, M.P.H. and colleagues.
Studies consistently show that positive thinkers handle stressful situations better. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and out of control, having a positive mindset helps you face challenges and devise solutions. The ability to handle stress has many health benefits. Did you know that higher levels of stress are linked to high blood pressure, diabetes and dementia?
Multiple studies point to a connection between mental and physical health. For example, people who are optimistic tend to have a stronger immune response, and less likely to catch cold and flu viruses. In addition, optimistic patients who face potentially terminal illnesses tend to see more significant and consistent benefits of treatment.
A 2019 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that spanned thousands of people and three decades showed that optimists live an average of 15% longer than pessimists. The results among male participants were slightly lower than among the female participants. The research suggests that optimists engage in healthier behaviors like exercise and healthy diets. They may also handle stress better and resist negative behaviors such as drinking and smoking.
Turn That Frown Upside Down
If you are struggling to feel positive in this year of unprecedented challenges, you are not alone. The good news is that you can train your brain to be more optimistic. Just like any other habit, with a little practice, it can be done. Try working on a few of these positive activities:
- Practice quiet self-care
- Connect or reconnect spiritually
- Practice gratitude
- Try some positive self-talk
- Participate in acts of kindness
- Focus on things you like about yourself
- Exercise for the endorphins
- Let go of grudges
Practicing positive behaviors like these may feel unnatural at first. But remember, the goal is not to let the negativity of your situation overwhelm you. When bad feelings start to take over, practice one of the positive habits above. You are building your mental and health when you do! Need more inspiration? Check out our blog Practicing Gratitude When Times Are Tough.