Having a sunny disposition has proven to be good for not only your mental health but your physical health as well. Physical and mental health go hand in hand; when you neglect one, the other will suffer for it. Taking the time to learn how to have a positive outlook on life can be what helps you stay alive longer.
How Can A Positive Outlook Benefit Your Health?
Type 2 Diabetes
Researchers tested patients with type 2 diabetes using an online program that taught lessons on positive affect skills. Patients using this program had less depression than the control group who did not participate in the program. These online programs also showed to reduce the mortality rate and raise glycemic control in diabetic and healthy patients.
Patients practicing positive affect were more likely to participate in physical activities, healthy eating, and were less likely to use tobacco products. Being more positive has also shown to help patients adhere to their medication schedules more closely.
Researchers studied a group of patients who diagnosed with HIV. They found that patients who were practicing positive outlook techniques had lower amounts of the virus. Researchers suggest that the patients using positive affect methods are more likely to take their medication on time and are less likely to need anti-depressants.
Cardio Vascular Disease
Patients who had issues with their cardiovascular health were given a test to see how optimistic they were. The findings showed that those with a more positive outlook were in a healthier condition than those who were negative. These patients had better blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, BMI’s, healthier diets, engaged in more physical activity, and were less likely to be smokers.
It might not be that surprising that a positive outlook helps reduce the severity of depression. Considering that being more optimistic lowers stress hormones and triggers the reward system, it has shown that it can be a beneficial tool for those suffering from depression. Having a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and being mindful of medication are all side-effects of a positive outlook and all significantly reduce depressions symptoms.
Being optimistic can help you sleep better at night. In a survey where they asked subjects to document how they felt about their life as well as their sleep quality, they noticed the correlation between the two. In the two year follow-up, 63% of them were less likely to have sleep apnea, and 52% were less likely to have restless leg syndrome.
Studies have shown that people who are more optimistic have better cognitive responses. In a study that looked at MRI images on children doing math problems, they found that the ones who had a positive outlook on math had more activity in their hippocampus which is in charge of memory and learning. Meaning that the attitude you have towards learning can dramatically affect your ability to do so.
Research indicates that having a brighter outlook on aging can help you live longer. There are C-reactive proteins (CRP) that’s presence suggests levels of stress-related inflammation. Lower CRP has shown to give a lower mortality rate. While studying patients who have a positive self-perception of aging, they found that these patients had lower CRP levels.
How Positive Emotions Affect Your Health
Being positive doesn’t mean you can’t feel negative emotions. Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson explains that all feelings are adaptive in their own circumstance. While positive emotions expand our way of thinking, negative emotions are just as important when going through hard times. The trick to positive thinking is not dwelling on those negative emotions for too long.
Positive emotions trigger the reward pathway, which activates the ventral striatum. Researchers have made discoveries showing that people who have activation in the ventral striatum for longer have fewer stress hormones and have a better feeling of well-being.
With a positive outlook, it becomes easier to care for yourself, and the stress you endure is less damaging to your body. High levels of stress hormones can lead to illnesses such as depression or cardiovascular disease. There are many methods you can use to change your mindset. It might seem difficult at first, but just like working out your physical form, over time you will start noticing great results.
How To Get Positive
Writing is one of the best ways to get your thoughts on paper and make them a reality. There are several different ways that writing things down can help you practice a more positive way of thinking.
Writing Down Your Strengths
Take a minute to think about your strengths. Are you humble? Are you generous? Do you adapt to new surroundings quickly? Keeping a list of your strengths and then making a note of how you used them can help you recognize and appreciate your self-worth.
Writing Down A Positive Event
When something happens that makes you happy, don’t forget it! Talk to someone about it and live in that happiness, or better yet, write it down. Write or talk about what made you happy and why it was such a great experience. This can help you learn to appreciate the good moments in your life and take the focus off of the bad ones.
Start A Gratitude Journal
Making a list of things you are grateful for and keeping up with it can help you focus on more positive aspects of your life. It can change your perception of how down you feel when you have a long list right in front of you telling you how much you have to appreciate. Small things you might take for granted is the best place to start, being a great tool you can use against negative self-talk.
Write Down Attainable Goals
When you are completely overwhelmed by goals that you wish to reach in your distant future, it can make you feel like you aren’t getting anything done and that your time might be worthless. With no sense of accomplishment, it can be difficult to think positively. Setting up attainable goals and writing down your progress, especially when you achieve them, can help you feel that sense of achievement.
Write Down Small Anxieties And Fix Them
One of the most used therapies for people with anxiety disorders is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. One thing therapists ask their patients to do is to note their small anxieties or stressors and work through them with positive self-talk. Figure out why this stressor is making you feel the way that it is and what you need to do to fix it.
Stop being so mean to yourself. Would you tell someone that you love that they were terrible at something and they should never have tried in the first place? Give yourself the type of compassion you give to others or would like to receive from others. Changing the words that you say in your head can help form the way that you think. So next time you fail at a project, instead of beating yourself up, think about what you excelled at and remember that everything is a learning experience.
Practice Small Acts Of Kindness
A small act of kindness is when you go out of your way to do something for someone for no other reason than to make them smile or their life easier. We are social creatures built to help one another survive. Taking part in this practice will make you feel good and doing it daily can help you feel happier for longer making a positive outlook a lot easier.
Find A Positive Moment In Every Day
Even if it is just one moment, recognizing that you had a good moment in your day can help you start to realize them more as they happen. It is so easy to focus on the bad and the negative, but you can train your brain to make the things that make you happy stick out.
It is very easy to get caught up in things you need to get done, events that are going to take place, or memories that always come around to haunt you. Being stuck in the past or the future takes you out of the now, which is where the positivity is bred. Practicing mindfulness is living in the moment you’re in so you don’t miss it. It is being aware of your thoughts, your feelings, and your sensations in the moment and appreciating them for what they are or tending to them if they are in need.
When Your Brain Won’t Turn Off
When you have a mental illness that gives you intrusive thoughts such as an anxiety or depressive disorder, it can be challenging to practice positive thinking. Many people have a chemical imbalance that can feel almost impossible to fight, so they turn to medication as well as this positive therapy treatment.
The issues with many medications are the side-effects. If it’s not the right pill, it can make your symptoms even worse. This can be fatal for those with depression who are already having a hard time finding a will to live. Making their symptoms worse can result in self-harm or suicide.
Many people are turning to a more herbal alternative, medical cannabis. Full spectrum hemp oil or pure CBD oil has shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety without the side-effects so common with pharmaceuticals. They also pose no risk when it comes to overdosing, taking away a common temptation many people with depression face.
If you find that you genuinely want to start thinking in a new way, but you feel like your brain is holding you back, you might want to consider taking CBD oil. If you are already on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication and they aren’t working, talk to your doctor before you quit them. Quitting antidepressants cold turkey will make your symptoms worse, which is something we are clearly trying to avoid.