Stress Management. Positive thinking reduces stress and perpetuates a healthy lifestyle. Is your glass half empty or half full? How you answer this age old question about positive thinking may reflect your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself and whether you’re optimistic or pessimistic. It also may even affect your health. Studies show that personality traits like optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well being. The positive thinking that typically comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. Effective stress management is associated with many health benefits. If you tend to be pessimistic , don’t despair. You can learn positive thinking skills.
Understanding positive thinking and self-talk
Positive thinking doesn’t mean you bury your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. It just means that you approach unpleasant situations in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen not the worst. Positive thinking often starts with positive self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be negative or positive. Some of your self talk comes from logic and reason. Other self talk can arise from misconceptions you create from lack of information. If these thoughts run through your head, your outlook on life will be pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive you’re likely an optimist.
As someone who practices positive thinking, I’m a very optimistic person and try to find something positive about each situation I encounter. Do some situations and people get on my nerves? Sure! No one is exempt. However, my positive mindset along with my faith in God keeps me moving and looking forward all the times. Like Paul in Philippians 3:13, “Forgetting what lies behind and pressing on to those things which are ahead!” My spirit leaps and soars when I read that scripture. God tells us in Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, whatever is right, noble, praiseworthy and of good report, whatever is lovely think on these things!” God even tells us what to think about. Researchers continue to explore the effects of optimism on health.
Health Benefits of Positive thinking
Increased Life span
Lower rates of depression
Lower levels of distress
Greater resistance to the common cold
Better psychological and physical well being
Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
Better coping skills during hardships and times of distress
Identifying Negative Thinking
- Filtering. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all the positive ones. For example, you had a great day at work, lots accomplished, very productive. You are even complimented for a speedy job and a job well done. However you dwell on the two things on the list you were not able to accomplish.
- Personalizing. When something bad occurs you automatically blame yourself.
- Catastrophizing. You automatically anticipate the worst. The coffee shop gets your order wrong and you immediately think the rest of your day will not go well.
- Polarizing. There is no middle ground. You feel that you have to be perfect or you’re a total failure.
Focus on the Positive
You can learn to overcome negative thinking. It does take time and practice. You are learning a new habit. Here are some ways to think and act in a more positive way.
- Identify areas to change. What areas of your life do you typically think negatively about? Whether it’s work, your daily commute, relationship, family issues.
- Check Yourself. Periodically during the day stop and evaluate what you’re thinking. If your thoughts are negative find a way to put a positive spin on things.
- Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh during difficult times. Seek humor in your everyday life. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle. Probably the biggest benefit of diet and exercise other than weight loss is stress reduction. Exercise at least three times a week to positively affect mood and reduce stress.
- Surround yourself with positive people. People can either boosts your spirits or bring you down. Which sounds more productive and fun? Make sure the people in your life are positive, supportive people yo can depend on to give you positive feedback.
- Practice positive self talk. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself, and when a negative thought enters your mind, quickly replace it with a positive affirmation or scripture. For example: The thought comes to mind that you will never loose the weight. Counter that with “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”
Verse of the Day: Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
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