The Connection Between Positive Thinking and Health

When you hear that a friend or family member is facing a health problem, it’s common to react by encouraging him or her to stay positive. This piece of advice may seem general and not-so-helpful, but keeping an upbeat attitude could actually be super beneficial to someone dealing with a health issue.

Researchers have found that there is a link between positive thinking, or the habit of approaching situations with an optimistic view, and physical health. People who are optimistic tend to cope with diseases better and have an improved recovery from surgery. Why? Researchers aren’t completely sure, but it might be that optimism reduces inflammation related to heart attacks and strokes, lowers levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress, and improves the immune system.

Whatever the reason, optimistic thinking isn’t just good for people going through a health issue. General health benefits tied to positive thinking include:

  • Reduced risk of depression
  • Longer life expectancy
  • Better mental and physical well-being
  • Lower chance of dying from heart disease

It can be hard to always walk on the sunny side of the street, so try these techniques for thinking more positively in your everyday life:

  • Prioritize your health. Routine physical activity is useful in reducing stress and anxiety. Following a healthy diet and exercising regularly are two key lifestyle habits that promote good mental health.
  • Build yourself up. It may not always be easy to be positive when thinking about situations, but decide to respond to negative thoughts with optimistic words. For example, replace “I’m feeling so sick” with “I’m not feeling well right now, but I will be better soon.” Or “I’ll never be good enough” with “I’m worthy and able to do anything that is put before me.”
  • Make optimism a lifestyle. Maintaining a gratitude journal, focusing on your breathing in high-pressure situations and embracing life’s challenges as an opportunity for development and growth are a few ways to incorporate positivity into your everyday life.

What tips would you give someone who wants to be more optimistic? If you need some inspiration, check out these blogs:

Photo credit: Hsing Wei

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