We’ve all been asked if the glass is half-empty or half-full, but have you ever thought about what your answer might mean for your overall well-being? The power of positivity isn’t just a catchy phrase; positive thinking can significantly impact your mental, physical, and emotional health. Once you know why positivity is so important, you can take simple steps today to begin incorporating more into your routines.
Positivity and Your Health
It’s not clear what the exact mechanism is, but study after study has shown that having a generally positive outlook on life leads to improved health outcomes. Johns Hopkins Medicine specifically points out the link between positive people and lower incidences of heart attacks – even among those with a family history of heart disease! While such findings aren’t definitive, they do highlight a pattern: having a positive attitude is one of the preventative measures that everyone should try. Some possible reasons for the link between positivity and health? There are three big ones: lower stress, a stronger immune system, and a better overall attitude toward preventative health.
Reduce Your Stress and Strengthen Immunity
The physical toll that chronic stress takes on your body can be high. The American Psychological Association points out that stress over time can lead to severe fatigue, chronic health conditions such as headaches, and the adoption of habits (such as drinking, smoking, over-eating, etc.) that can cause poor health outcomes. The good news is that positive thinking can directly reduce stress. The Mayo Clinic points out that people who are generally optimistic can more easily and quickly move through stress and on to other things. Beyond dealing with stress more easily, those who identify as optimistic often have stronger immune systems. These two outcomes are likely linked – when you’re able to get consistent sleep and nutrition, feel productive in your home and work lives, and successfully navigate obstacles, your body is better able to nourish itself and build a robust immune system.
Better Overall Wellness
Aside from the direct health benefits from positive thinking, there is an encouraging side effect as well: those who think positively (and focus on the best possible outcome rather than the worst) tend to take better care of themselves in general. Optimists don’t avoid preventative wellness out of fear, for example, and are generally eager to be more physically active among friends and family. They often look for opportunities to build relationships and connect with others to spread their joy, thus strengthening their support network should health events arise.
If optimism and positivity don’t come naturally to you, or you’re simply looking to add even more to your daily wellness routine, then start simple: focus on your self-talk. You can think of self-talk as the narration that runs through your head during the day; when something noteworthy happens, that voice gets louder, and you tend to listen to those thoughts more purposefully. Begin to shift your approach with this narration and focus more on the positives of the situation rather than the negatives. For example, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam on the way to work, try reframing the situation into something positive – you have time to listen to that podcast, or perhaps this is the only chance you’ll have all day for some silence. Positive thinking doesn’t mean ignoring problems or obstacles, but it does mean trying to acknowledge and focus on the potential upside as you work your way through. As you practice more positive self-talk, you’ll notice that it becomes natural!
Another simple way to introduce positivity into your life is by using a gratitude journal. Some days it feels like our attention is entirely focused on challenges and stressors; with a gratitude journal, you’ll get practice noticing the small things that bring hope and joy to your life. You can find pre-made gratitude journals in paper and digital forms, or simply buy a fun notebook and jot something down yourself every day before bed. This simple exercise will soon expand, and you’ll begin to notice positive things all day long!
Position Your Body
If engaging with your thoughts and your daily outlook seems too hard some days, then focus on your body instead. Your mind and body are intimately connected, and a strong, positive body position can help lift your emotional and mental state. Try to stand up straight with your shoulders back and chin up. Relax your jaw and lower your tongue from the roof of your mouth. Spread your arms wide once or twice to feel your strength and stability, and then smile. Feel proud and positive in your body, and your positive thinking will soon follow.
By incorporating these three simple steps into your routine starting now, you’ll quickly begin to notice a shift in your general outlook towards more positivity!