“The world we have made as a result of the level of the thinking we have done thus far creates problems that we cannot solve at the same level (of consciousness) at which we have created them . . .We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humankind is to survive.” Albert Einstein
Positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health. Research has repeatedly shown that chronic stress impairs the healing process, and diminishes immune system activity. There is a connection between what you think and how your body responds to those thoughts. Literally, you are what you think.
Self-talk is the endless stream of thoughts that run through your head every day. If those thoughts are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist, someone who practices positive thinking.
Studies show that optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. Negative thinking leads to increased stress hormones, which are associated with lower immunity to disease. Positive thinking is a key part of effective stress management. Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s unpleasant situations. It just means that you approach the unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way.
Optimists generally have lower levels of stress hormones, signs of a healthier immune system, and are therefore at lower risk for chronic disease compared to pessimists. People who engage in positive thinking experience increased health benefits. Having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful effects of stress on your health. If negative factors like anxiety and stress can adversely affect a person’s physical well-being, then it follows that positive thinking has a reverse effect. Positive expectations, like the placebo effect, can greatly reduce pain and positive thinkers are more likely to get well faster during treatment for a physical illness.
Is your glass half-empty or half-full? Negative thinkers tend to magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. When something bad occurs, they automatically blame themselves and may automatically anticipate the worst. They see things only as either good or bad, black or white, there is no middle ground.
If you find your self-talk is mainly negative you’re not doomed to an unhappy or unhealthy life. You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it takes time and practice while you create a new habit. With practice, your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance. You may also become less critical of the world around you. Below are some ways to change your thoughts from negative to positive.
Ways to Use Positive Thinking to Beat Stress
- Check yourself occasionally through the day. If your thoughts are negative, try to put a positive spin on them. Practice positive self-talk.
- Become a ‘Glass is Half-full’ Person
- Seek Humor in everyday happenings. Laughter reduces stress! Give yourself permission to smile, especially during stressful moments.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle. Exercise at least three times a week to positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet.
- Surround yourself with positive, supportive people to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people, can increase your stress levels.
- Get involved. The positive energy of others will work wonders to dispel your stress.
- Hug more often!
- Assume the best!
Practicing positive self-talk will improve your outlook. When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you’re able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way. That ability can contribute greatly to the health benefits of positive thinking.
Joel and Michelle Levey, in their books Luminous Mind: Meditation and Mind Fitness andWisdom At Work state: “Both ancient teachings and modern medical research agree that one of the quickest, most direct routes to restoring harmony and balance in our lives is to foster gratitude and appreciation. The moment you shift from a mind state of negativity or judgment to one of appreciation, there are immediate effects at many levels of your being: brain function becomes more balanced, harmonized, and supple; your heart begins to pump in a much more coherent and harmoniously balanced rhythm; and biochemical changes trigger a host of healthful balancing reactions throughout your body.”
Medicine and positive thinking work wonders together. It is not believing in a false hope, but embracing the beauty of life despite its many setbacks. Positive thinking is not expected to be a miracle cure, but if you focus on living instead of on anger, sorrow, and self-pity, you may find yourself thinking your way to health and wellness. So when you’re sick, expect positive results. Visualize yourself recuperating from your illness; picture yourself in the prime of health. Laugh your way to recovery. That is the best medicine, after all, isn’t it?!