Did you know that your outlook on life — whether you tend to see the glass as half-full or half-empty — can impact your health? As The New York Times reported, “Studies have shown an indisputable link between having a positive outlook and health benefits like lower blood pressure, less heart disease, better weight control, and healthier blood sugar levels.”
While the correlation between a positive outlook and health is partly physiological (the NYT indicates that those in studies with positive viewpoints had lower levels of C-reactive proteins that signal stress-related inflammation that can cause illness), it is also partly psychological. Those who have a positive mindset demonstrate better stress management and decision-making skills with regard to their physical and mental health.
Plus, when you’re thinking positively, you’re avoiding negative thoughts and all the side effects that come with them.
“The emotions created from negativity can trigger the body’s stress response,” explains Arootah holistic health coach Erica Walsh. “Chronic stress can lead to health problems, like high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression. It can even weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. Getting a good night’s rest can be more difficult as thoughts race, making it harder to fall asleep, stay asleep, or achieve a restful state. Mental health is sure to take a hit as well, contributing to the development of depression and anxiety.”
So, how can positive thinking impact your wellness? Read on to find out and learn how to start thinking positive.
The Power of Positive Thinking
Positive thinking comes with a wealth of mental health benefits that, in turn, help you to make better decisions about your health. Here are just a few ways that happens:
Increased Confidence and Empowerment
With a more positive outlook, you gain confidence in yourself and your ability to overcome challenges and achieve goals. This sense of self-efficacy can be empowering, leading you to make decisions about your mental and physical healthcare with more confidence.
Reduced Stress and Anxiety
Gratitude and positive visualization reduce stress and anxiety, allowing you to manage negative thoughts and emotions and make clearer and more rational decisions.
Improved Resilience and Greater Overall Emotional Health
Positive thinking builds up your resilience and improves your overall emotional health, so you can make better decisions even when faced with adversity or setbacks. “Thinking positively increases the likelihood of feeling happy, optimistic, and hopeful,” notes Walsh. “These feelings are crucial when it comes to facing obstacles, handling stress, and fostering a positive outlook on life.”
Better Perception of Your Health
If your overall perception of life, including your health, is positive, you’re more likely to make good decisions, because you’re more confident those decisions will pay off in the long term.
“Your mind is incredibly powerful in shaping the way you see the world around you. With positive thinking, you’re more likely to focus on possibilities which could yield positive outcomes, allowing you to see opportunities and fully embrace new experiences,” says Walsh. “Positive thoughts impact your confidence. If you are thinking positively, you’re more likely to believe in yourself and your abilities. Strengthened confidence will help you take on challenges with an ‘I’ve got this!’ attitude.”
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Walsh adds, “When you’re in a positive mood, there’s less chance to give into emotional decisions like overeating or drinking one too many cocktails. You’re also less likely to make impulsive decisions that could be detrimental to your well-being.”
Attracting Positive Experiences
Like attracts like. If you demonstrate a positive attitude toward others, you’re more likely to draw positive people into your life, and those positive people are likely to experience their own health successes because of their own positive attitudes. This mutuality means you’re more likely to develop strong, healthy habits together.
“It could feel as though the entire world is working with you to achieve all that you are working towards,” says Walsh. “New opportunities will appear you might have overlooked with a poorer attitude.”
Cultivating a Positive Mindset
Of course, knowing all the benefits of a positive mindset is one thing, but actually developing one is more complicated. Here are a few techniques to get you started:
- Practice gratitude by writing down or voicing aloud what you’re thankful for each day
- Actively visualize success by imagining yourself working towards and achieving your goals
- Use positive affirmations you can speak aloud to yourself throughout the day, nudging your mind toward positivity rather than negativity
- Surround yourself with positivity by seeking out people, books, and other resources that promote positivity and personal growth
The Bottom Line
Incorporating positive thinking strategies into decisions concerning your health and well-being can improve your confidence, reduce stress, build resilience, and help you to foster a proactive approach to your overall health. In fact, if you’re thinking of pursuing a new health or fitness goal, then you can’t afford to not take on a positive outlook on life.
“Thinking positively promotes healthy decision making in a variety of ways,” says Walsh, “When you have a positive outlook, your motivation is sure to increase. Because you believe in yourself and your abilities, you will be more motivated to take action. If you’re about to embark on a new, challenging fitness journey, you can approach it with confidence, trusting that you’ve most certainly got this.”
Having trouble developing a more positive outlook or feel your decision-making or habit-building skills have room for improvement? Take our free health assessment to help identify areas for improvement and learn how you can take action toward achieving your health goals.