Think about a time when you were particularly excited, sad, or nervous. How did your body respond? Maybe you tensed up, cried, or felt a surge of energy. That’s because your mind and body have a profound effect on one another.
Over time, chronic stress can manifest itself as physical symptoms. On the flip side, thinking positively can have numerous health benefits:
The Power of a Positive Mindset:
- Better resistance to illness: Negative emotions can disrupt your hormonal balance, deplete the chemicals that make you happy, and weaken your immune system. Happiness is the perfect preventative medicine!
- Reduced blood pressure: Anxiousness releases stress hormones that increase your heart rate. By learning to de-stress, you can help keep your blood pressure down.
- Improved heart health: Studies have shown that people who think positively versus negatively are 13% less likely to have a coronary event.
- Higher pain tolerance: Pain signals don’t just come from the injured body part — they also come from cognitive information that’s unique to each person.
- Resistance to stress-related inflammation: Positive emotions reduce stress hormone levels and the amount of plaque in your arteries.
- Ability to recover from serious conditions: Optimistic people are more likely to recover from a wide range of serious conditions, like cancer, brain tumors, and respiratory disease.
- Longer life expectancy: Research has shown that positive thinking can increase your lifespan by 15% and the odds of you living to age 85 or older.
How to Develop a Positive Mindset
Sure, it’s easy to have a positive mindset when all is good in your life. But how can you maintain a positive attitude in the face of life’s daily challenges?
- Smile: Even if you’re not happy! Smile anyway — it can reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. Better yet, search for funny videos or hang out with people that make you feel good.
- Focus on the good: Say you’re out to dinner and they screw up your order. Think about how fun it was to catch up with friends. Or maybe you’re stuck in traffic. Use the extra time to listen to your favorite tunes or an interesting podcast.
- Be grateful: Each day, write down all the things you’re thankful for in a gratitude journal. Not only will this help you focus on the positive, studies have shown it can help you sleep better.
- Don’t assume: Suppose someone declines an invitation from you, ignores you when you say hi, or doesn’t respond to your text. Don’t automatically assume it has to do with you.
- Don’t expect the worst: Have you ever missed your alarm, got stuck in traffic, spilled your coffee, and then expected the rest of the day to go downhill? Reframe your thinking and anticipate the best.
- Be resilient: When challenges occur, reach out to your friends and family for support, accept that change can be a good thing, and rather than complain about a problem, take action to resolve it.
Creating a positive mindset doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself. The more you practice, the easier it will get — and your body will thank you for it!